Canon photographer

Interpol: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This was my second time shooting one of my favourite ever bands, Interpol, and the fourth time I’ve photographed Paul Banks officially. The Dublin leg of the Marauder tour consisted of three nights in the Olympia Theatre, one of their favourites it seems. I shot the opening night for MCD and was just one of three photographers. This made for great space in the photo pit for us. On their last tour for El Pintor the band were quite darkly lit, but the backdrop of the red hands from the album cover behind them led to some shots I really liked. That time I didn’t come out with any great shots of Daniel Kessler, and pretty much none of Sam Fogarino, at the back of the stage on drums. This tour was definitely a better shoot.

Nilüfer Yanya

Nilüfer Yanya

Opening proceedings on the three nights was Londoner Nilüfer Yanya. She was a far calmer and easier support to photograph than Health on the last tour.

Interpol opened with Untitled, and this time Daniel Kessler was better lit and easier to photograph than Paul Banks through the song. I spent a good portion of this song shooting Dan and Sam. I was delighted to get good shots of Sam finally, since he was doing a DJ set on the day of their final show, and I wanted to get a shot of mine signed. I managed to get his signature on the above shot.

The lights and dry ice were a mixed bag throughout the three song shoot, but there was enough time with the songs they played to capture all members of the band well. The biggest frustration were the egg shaped lights between the PA at the front of the stage. It really hindered the vantage points for wider shots. They had a disco-ball overhead (I know right? Interpol and a disco-ball) which was not used to much effect until the last few shots I took. After the three songs, certain songs in the set used it heavily, and it looked fantastic. But while it looked cool, the colours during those songs would have been a nightmare to shoot, and edit, so I’m happy with how the shoot turned out. I went to all three nights and loved every minute of it. They’re still one of the best.

Click here for full gallery, and here to see the set from El Pintor tour.

Julian Casablancas & The Voidz: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

I was surprised to get a photopass for this show, purely because I figured the man himself wouldn’t be too fond of press at shows. When I got the pass I thought to myself “the lights will be shite”, and sure enough, they were.

Promiseland

Promiseland

Support came from Promiseland, a Tasmanian devil onstage, who couldn’t keep still between running to his decks/samplers and jumping off stage and into the crowd. He came on twenty minutes later than expected. The lights were brutal and the constant movement didn’t help. The most still he was through the shoot was during this shot as he stretched his back on stage.

Then we get to Julian Casablancas and the Voidz, half an hour later than listed time and just as in the dark as Promiseland. Julian takes to the stage and sits on the drum riser, head in hand for a moment before he began to sing. Within a minute he comes to sit at the front of the stage to face, or not face the crowd. While the stage is lit bad, he was completely in the dark and the lighting guy showed no interest in fixing that.

Myself and fellow GoldenPlec photographer, Colm Kelly were the only two photographers in the pit and were at either side of Casablanas, facing the same struggles. The camera couldn’t focus because it was so dark. I’d switch to manual focus and it still wouldn’t shoot. I swapped lens to a f1.8 50mm and still it struggled to find a focus point. The only hope was catching him while people in the audience snapped him with their phones. Never more so was I happy that people at a gig kept their flash on. This is the only reason I’ve anything usable from the show.

His guitarist wore clown make up and even he was constantly in bad lighting. The below shot may look like things weren’t as bad as I’m making out but this was the best I got in the bunch. He would also veer too far forward on the stage away from whatever light there was and I struggled to get him in any action shots, particularly while side by side with the second guitarist.

Overall it felt like a waste of time but if you’re going to have a shit shooting experience it may as well be with someone of note. I can’t call it the worst shoot I’ve ever done as the audience saved some shots. Band’s like Beach House still hold that honour.

Click here for more photos.

Gary Numan: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

My initial thoughts of shooting Gary Numan would be that he would have many a pose and would make for a cool picture.  I didn't factor his heavy use of smoke and strobes on stage when I headed to the Olympia for The Thin Air.  This made things quite tricky, particularly given how much Gary moves around on stage.  He doesn't stop, and when he does the microphone obscures most of his face as you try catch a break between the flickers of light.  Add to this some dark green lights during one of the three songs covered.  

I had my second camera (Canon 7d) on me with a 70-200mm, as usual for an Olympia Show, but this was rarely used for close ups because of his constant movement.  I think there is only one shot I bothered with when it came to editing which you can see below.  Even at that, it is slightly overexposed.  He was still worth shooting, just a tricky subject to photograph.

Franz Ferdinand: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

Franz Ferdinand have a knack for playing Sunday night shows in Dublin.  The last time they played a few years ago I had just returned from a heavy stag weekend in Sligo and was a little worse for wear.  I was in better shape on this February night for The Thin Air and was looking forward to catching Fontaines D.C.  for the second time.  Alex Kapranos later remarked on stage how Hurricane Laughter was one of his favourite tunes of recent times.

Fontaines D.C.

Fontaines D.C.

I had mixed feelings about how Franz were going to play out.  The singles were ok but I hadn’t kept going back to them like singles of old.  Any album b-sides I heard or saw performed live on TV or web were not hitting the spot either.  Somehow it all clicked at this gig and I was won over and digging the newly rejuvenated Franz Ferdinand.  I've already my tickets in hand to go see them again with the Killers this Summer.

It was still not the most brilliantly lit show I’ve ever shot, much like their last show in the Olympia, but it still was enough to get some cool shots of Alex jumping.  They have a cool backdrop that was never well lit at the same time as the band.  The third song, Evil Eye was complete darkness except for the background, with Kapranos’s constant movement on stage it made it not even worthy of a god silhouette shot.  So pretty much all the best results from this set are from the first two songs. 

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Conor McGregor Portrait by Aaron Corr

Conor McGregor

A huge surprise landed my way near the end of October when I got asked to do a photo shoot with Conor McGregor for Virgin Media Ireland for their Play magazine.  He would be doing press for his documentary film Notorious.  I immediately felt a sense of pressure, a good pressure.  You know the type, the one you get when you're about to photograph probably the most famous sports star in the world right now.  The biggest question I asked myself was "How much time will I have with him?"  As the days neared I set the expectation that maybe five minutes could be my maximum time since it was a press junket.

The shoot took place on Halloween during the day in the Merrion hotel.  As I waited in the press room Conor popped the head in to say a quick hello to those of us waiting before returning to his room for more interviews.  My designated time was to follow TV3’s Lisa Cannon's interview with him for Box Office and the Play mag.  As I waited I learned that I didn’t have a set number of minutes, as soon as I got the picture I'd be done.  No pressure.  I had all my equipment with me, tripod, softbox and flash triggers.  I quickly set up my mini softbox that is more portable, but more tricky when holding it with my left hand while taking photos with the right.  

Conor McGregor

When the interview wrapped I was allowed in.  People leaving took selfies as they were saying goodbye to Conor and I surveyed the darkened room, lit mainly by the large studio lights for recording the interview.  In that moment I made the decision to abandon my impromptu flash set up and take advantage of the lights already set up.  Before I had time to think any further Conor was introduced to me, and he asked where I wanted him standing.  A standing position would have been ideal, but my decision meant I had to ask him to sit for the portrait since the lights set up at a lower level.  I took a test image, updated my settings and took the portrait you can see above of him smiling.  I asked him for a ‘power pose’.  He raised his fists and I took three more snaps.  He motioned to get up from his seat and I knew that in his mind I was to just there to get a picture  There were many people in the room, and not wanting to cause any delays I knew to wrap things up.  Lisa requested a quick photo with him while I was there.  A big part of me wanted to get a selfie myself, but the way I looked at it was that if I could afford the time to take a selfie, then I should have used that time to get another portrait as option. 

Conor was a gent to deal with for the short space of time I had.  I must have had a total of one minute, resulting in four photos.  I was reminded of the photography episode of Abstract on Netflix, when Platon notes at one point how he was under restriction to take just one portrait of a particular world leader.  So, I guess I didn't have it that bad by comparison.

Conor McGregor

The Best Gigs of 2017 by Aaron Corr

Cage the Elephant: The Academy

The year got off to a flying start with Cage the Elephant making their long awaited headline show in Ireland, in The Academy.  Not only was it an amazing gig to shoot, thank you Matt Shultz for being one of the best front-men of any modern band, but also because the music and the atmosphere.  It was genuinely electric.  I've only been a casual fan to this point yet the gig gives me shivers to think of it.  The setlist, fucking hell it was unreal.  I can’t think of how any one person could come out of the gig with anything but “gig of the year” on their lips, and it was only bleedin’ January!!  It could have been all downhill from there, but thankfully not.  

Read the GoldenPlec review and see all my photos here.

Hamilton Leithauser: Workmans Club

I was not prepared for how great Hamilton Leithauser's gig in the Workmans Club would be.  I heard the singles from his current album with Rostam, but hadn’t yet given it a spin.  The Walkmen had always sort of disappointed me live,so I felt like I could potentially take it or leave it with this gig.  This was a completely different ball game to a Walkmen show, the tunes were all fantastic, and I loved his banter and tales in between songs.  He did a stunning rendition of In A Black Out, finger picking the acoustic guitar and holding the crowd in the palm of his hands with his signature voice.  His story about the origin of the lyrics for The Brides Dad was a fun wedding tale ahead of playing said song.  Often singers can bore you by over-explaining but Hamilton nails it, and it makes you pay more attention to the lyrics.  The gig was under an hour and it left everyone wanting more.  I can’t wait until he returns, however long that will be.

See the full gallery here.

The Moonlandingz: Whelans

After seeing Fat White Family early in 2016, and it being one of my favourite gigs of that year, I couldn’t miss Lias Saoudi’s return to Whelans with The Moonlandingz.  They may not have built up the hardcore fanbase of FWF yet but that has changed now that they’ve played our shores.  Their debut LP was released that Friday, so the band and crowd were well up for a mad show.  Lias, aka Johnny Rocket, arrived out with black make up on his face and cling film wrapped around… kitchen roll(?) to his midriff, swinging beers and a bottle of wine.  They started with their three most popular & well known songs, a brave move for any band, and yet the gig got better and better as it went along.  The duet with Slow Club’s Rebecca Lucy Taylor for The Strangle of Anna was both strange and brilliant.  The band barreled towards the end with some b-sides and yet the momentum kept rising, with only one song providing a bit of respite for the crowd before Man in My Lyfe near tore Whelans apart.  They were a band to rival Cage the Elephant for best performance of the year. 

Click here for my full gallery.

Metronomy: Body & Soul

When I took Joseph Mount’s portrait last year it looked there was to be no touring at all for the album.  Thankfully he broke that sabbatical in 2017 for a handful of dates, followed by full on festival schedule in which they came to Ireland for Body & Soul.  It was my first time at the festival and, I must admit, they were the band that swung it for me to go.  They headlined the first night and they were as brilliant as ever.  Photographers managed to be granted 4 songs to shoot, possibly in the confusion of all the initial songs segueing into each other.  They kept the momentum going and barely let it up, even debuting a new song, which is still in my head.  They always look like they are having a blast on stage while lashing out their unique brand of pop brilliance.  I can’t recommend seeing them live enough.  Even my GoldenPlec partner in crime for the weekend, who previously wasn’t convinced by them, was completely won over. 

Click for GoldenPlec's review and click here for full gallery.

HMLTD: Workmans Club

HMLTD were recommended to many of us at team GoldenPlec by Niall, who moved to London last year and has caught them a few times, citing them as quickly filling the top spots for his favourite gigs of the year.  While we may not have got the full London experience, with a half busy but very enthusiastic crowd mixed in with some technical issues for the band, it was still a solid display of their potential.  My GP friends and I all looked at each other and agreed that HMLTD would be the perfect band for a Halloween night.  They are in line with Moonlandingz/Fat White Family for a raucous gig experience, full of showmanship, sweat and catchy tunes.  The unusual twists and turns to songs like To the Door keep things interesting, mixing glam, psych rock and electronic all in one.  Broken guitar strings and faulty PA meant we were denied an encore but the next time everyone in the room will be back with friends in tow to experience them.

Click here for full gallery.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: The Academy

The return of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has to make my list for this year, particularly since they started their first tour in quite some time in Dublin.  I got to see the guys soundcheck some of their new material ahead of the show, in which they played a good amount of new songs from their upcoming album, Wrong Creatures.  Usually a band playing a fair chunk of new material can be off putting when they have an extensive back catalogue of favourites to work through, but I enjoyed hearing the debut of these tracks live.  The gig also had the BRMC trait of being very loud indeed.   The boys & girl are back, Pete might be grayer but they are still sounding mighty.

Click here for full gallery.

BNQT: The Button Factory

BNQT is a ‘supergroup’ consisting of Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Fran Healy (Travis), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) with Midlake as the core band.  On this date of the tour we were minus Alex & Ben but it didn’t take away from a mighty and fun gig.  Everyone on stage is having the time of their lives, running through choice favourites from each band in between cuts from BNQT’s debut album.  They also peppered the gig with some classic covers of Neil Young, The Beatles and finished with Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down.  I went in to this gig tired, half thinking of leaving a few songs after I shot the show, but left with a bit of pep in my step and a big smile on my face for what I got to witness.  Their name isn't well known, so it was to a smaller crowd than any of these band members would normally get in their own gig which added to the ‘you had to be there’ vibe of the show.  If HMLTD were Halloween, then this band were Christmas. 

Click here for full gallery.

The best gigs that I didn't shoot this year were...

Interpol: Alexandra Palace

I couldn’t miss Interpol playing Turn On The Bright Lights from start to finish for its 15th anniversary tour.  They announced they were to do the set at Electric Picnic, but I’ve retired from going to EP.  A trip over the water to London was in order to see them play in Ally Pally.  The buzz about the night was great, the weather was sunny and people were handing out Interpol related samples of the book Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman to those queuing.  Bar someone getting sick beside us fifteen minutes before they were due onstage, the night was a treat.  They launched straight into Untitled, played the whole album and capped the main set off with Specialist, one of their best tracks which just missed being on the album.  They returned to play a ‘greatest hits’ set, even playing a new song which is not in their tendency to do since they toured TOTBL.  I was envious of the photographers shooting the show, the lights were so much better than when I got the chance to shoot the band on their last Irish visit.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper: The Olympia

Buying the ticket to Alice Cooper started off as a laugh.  I couldn’t be more happy for that spur of the moment decision because it was one of the most entertaining and fun shows I’ve ever seen.  To think I very nearly could have photographed the show too near kills me.  Missing out on The Thin Air asking for people to cover this show is my biggest regret of 2017.  At least I was there and didn’t let an amazing show pass me by.  He played all the hits I knew, and everything I didn't know entertained the hell out of me as well.  It was a bit cheesey at times watching the guitarists in near competition with each other to throw as many plecs to the crowd as they could, but it's just all a bit of fun and showmanship while they are playing killer leads on guitar.  The pyrotechnics and theatricality of it was a hoot.  Alice Cooper, what a legend.

Depech Mode

Depeche Mode: 3Arena

This was my second time catching Depeche Mode on this tour, the first time being at NOS Alive in Lisbon.  I really hoped to photograph this show and had my name to it but to get into why it didn’t happen would lead to a rant and who needs that, right?  This is about the show, and it was way better than Lisbon and possibly the best show I’ve seen of Depeche Mode out of the four times I’ve seen them. The set list was incredible, while focusing on their more recent noughties and later nineties output through the first half, they showed how after all this time they still have great songs and are not content to stick around as a nostalgia act.  

The latter half was a blitzkrieg of classics which didn’t let up until it was time for them to leave.  Martin Gore’s ‘acoustic’ moments were the best I’ve seen yet, with A Question of Lust and Strangelove getting an airing.  Dave Gahan has more energy now than most front-men under half his age. He controls the crowd like we are puppets and he is the master, no better is this visible than during Never Let Me Down as he  gets the signature famous crowd wave going midway through the song. This always gives me shivers down my spine to participate, and to look around at the view.  God knows how it feels from their vantage point. Once again, they are unreal.  

London Grammar: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This is my second time photographing London Grammar live, this time for The Thin Air.  My first experience shooting the band was in the Academy and midway through the second song their tour manager came out to tell photographers to stop moving in the pit.  From that point on we had to stand still where we were, which left me at the far side, away from singer Hannah Reid.  This was unfortunate, and the lighting was tricky at that show.

This time in the Olympia they were more prepared and had tape along the ground in which no one, not even security were to pass.  It wasn't the worst restriction I've had placed on me at a show, the only downside was that the right side was crap to shoot from.  Hannah had her back turned or was obscured by the keyboards & synths for the most part.  When Dominic moved to the drums he was that bit too obscured, a bit more reach would have done the trick to catch a better photo but the line was right there to stop me.  The results of the show were nice and the edit after was one of the quickest to go through since light was near consistent, which is always a bonus.  This turned out to be a nice tour to shoot.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: The Academy by Aaron Corr

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club kicked off their new tour ahead of the release of their new album, Wrong Creatures, in Dublin's Academy.  For the I don't know how many'th time they chose to come here on a Monday night.  These guys are in good need to give Irish fans a good Friday or Saturday night gig.  Either way they had no problems selling the place out and making the crowd jump around for them.

The last time I got to photograph the band in this venue they had lights underneath them that gave them a warm glow throughout, even as strobes would go off and when the stage got darker.  That wasn't the case this time around.  They opened with Little Thing Gone Wild, and tore tore the eardrums off of everyone.  They played a great set, debuting many new songs throughout.

The show was at times tricky to shoot.  There were walls of amps/PA at either side of the stage, obscuring a side vantage point to shoot at, Pete had some drums set up to his left which obscured all that one side of him.  Pete was mostly in the dark through the set, with Rob getting the most lighting in waves, hence why most photos are of him in the set.  Leah, doing incredibly well since her brain surgery and having re-learned the drums, was often lit in dull reds and surrounded by smoke for most of the three songs.

Earlier in the day I got to watch the band soundcheck and meet them afterwards, and I brought with me some of my photos to get signed.  I had a photo of Pete framed on my wall and it looks cooler now with his signature on it.  I've long meant to put one up of Robert and Leah so when I move house soon that is very much going to happen.  The photo was taken on my phone and was the only shot in the burst taken that wasn't as blurry.  Rob had just moved position to where they'd let fans pose with them and as I stood a little to the side of him he pulled me in to get closer to them, making me look a tad awkward in the process.