Music

First Aid Kit: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This is the second time I’ve shot First Aid Kit in the Olympia Theatre, this occasion was for The Thin Air. Opening up for the band were The Staves, who I had also shot previously in Whelans. First Aid Kit had a curtain covering most of the stage, so the Stave sisters were very much set up towards the front of the stage. With the height of the Olympia stage it very much felt like most vantage points led to shooting ‘up the nose’ as they say, which isn’t the best angle or flattering. Combine this with the mic stands and equipment they had set up for sampling their vocals, the angles were narrow and tricky and I can’t say there is a photo I particularly like from this set.

The Staves

The Staves

First Aid Kit’s set I thought would be a better shoot. The hindrance was the colours used on stage, which can be a frustration when editing, particularly when they are used as low light while the Soderberg sister’s hang towards the back of the stage for a portion of the first song. They are a great band to shoot but if I was to compare, my first experience with them in the Olympia was a better experience.

The other frustration during their set was that they were lit well for a good portion of the set but the lights that were lighting them from front on were causing lots of microphone shadow on their faces, as seen of the next photo of Klara. I ended up focusing on her less because her mouth and chin were lost in the photos as she stood singing. Johanna sang less during those songs and therefore was standing back a little more, making her a better performer to photograph.

Their set was good and their singing perfect, however I did prefer their set and energy on stage at All Together Now in the summer. Their latest album is one of my favourite albums of the year.

Haim: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

I went along to catch Haim for GoldenPlec.  This is the second time I’ve shot them live and this time restrictions were put in place to shoot from the sides of the venue only, when the last time it was a pit shoot as normal.

First up was support from Maggie Rogers who was in constant movement, dancing and flicking her hair around the stage.  When you could get a look at her face she rarely had the microphone lowered, leaving her face obscured for most of the first three songs.  The lighting was great and I loved how animated she was.  There was some great moments to capture, but also many moments that would have looked amazing, but ruined by some motion blur due to Maggie’s constant movement.  

Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers

The restricted vantage points for shooting Haim proved to be annoying.  It’s very cramped at the sides and corners where seven photographers were allowed to be, a lot of tall people in the crowd, people coming and going from the bar meant you could never fully settle for taking shots.  I mixed it up by taking the lesser chosen side first for one song, then running to the more popular side.  I think I preferred the first side’s results, when I was shooting from the right side of the stage. 

Click here for the GoldenPlec review.

Wild Beasts: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

It was sad to see Wild Beasts call it a day, but boy did they bow out with an amazing show and set list.  The gig was split into two sets, either of which would make any Wild Beasts fan happy if they were to experience it at a festival.  This is the third time I’ve caught them live since the release of Boy King, the first was just for a few songs at NOS Alive in Lisbon, before I legged away to see The Kills (I think).  When I saw them play at Indiependance before the Manic Street Preachers, I had a weird feeling as the crowd thinned and never filled up the tent for their blistering set.  It then came as not a complete surprise when they announced their impending split.  While I can’t say low crowd numbers like this at certain shows would be the reason, it did play on my mind.

As they bowed out with three final UK and Ireland shows they played through most albums equally, their first album perhaps getting the raw deal.  I never felt a lull in either set, and the emotion and adoration in the theatre was high and incredible.  You could see how chuffed the band were on stage and couldn’t help but think “maybe they will change their minds”.  With a show like this, they ended their career on a complete high.

From a shooting perspective I presumed it would be very dark, barely usable silhouette shots from dark blues/purples and pinks/reds like I’ve experienced at their shows in the past, but to my surprise they were pretty well lit for at least a song or two.  The deep blues did arrive but it didn’t completely make things tricky for the shoot. 

Juanita Stein: The Grand Social by Aaron Corr

It's been just over 10 years since I saw Howling Bells play a show in Limerick's Dolans.  I was a fan of the album at the time but after their live show I loved them even more.  I never saw them live again, and I am not sure if they ever did return to Ireland to tour so I was happy to see Juanita Stein announce a tour.  Juanita's Dublin show fell on a miserable Friday night in Dublin.  Support came from Navan's Chinese Newspaper.

As much as I looked forward to seeing Juanita's solo show, something crept up that I was well advised not to miss, HMLTD in Workman's Club.  So unfortunately I stayed long enough to shoot a few songs from Juanita's set and ran to see and take some photos down the Liffey at Workos.  Sometimes Dublin is like that, just like the weather outside that night when it comes to bands in town, when it rains, it pours.

Kate Nash: The Academy by Aaron Corr

When I completed my shoot of Brian Wilson’s show in Bord Gais Theatre I realised it was still very early and was thinking that I could have easily have shot the Kate Nash gig that same night, but usually there is no way of planning this and it working.  The Academy is on one of my routes home so I strolled past it at 8:45 and saw crowds of fans outside having a cigarette.  I chanced my arm and walked up to the MCD person working at the front door and asked if there was any spare passes to shoot.  As it turns out MCD’s snapper opted out of the shoot and now I had the pass to shoot my second show of the night.

I wasn’t long waiting before Kate Nash’s band took to the stage to play their intro before she took to the stage.  The set up on stage was busy with flowers, trees, streamers and clouds, the lights were heavy on purples, greens and blues and Kate was ready to reacquaint everyone with her debut album.  She stalked the stage left to right after teasing a verse & chorus of her biggest hit, Foundations.

This was the first show of the tour and the band were in fine form, with plenty of hair flicking and rock poses.  Kate, fresh from her success in starring in Netflix's GLOW, was bouncing around and by the last song of the shoot was down to the front row of the crowd to scream the words to Dickhead into the eager fans faces.

The usual Academy issues still applied, mainly being the harsh colours and the annoying efforts it takes to try fix them in Lightroom but I was happy to get shooting the show regardless.  Especially given the contrast to the fixed and distant position given to me in Bord Gais for the previous shoot.  

Take That: 3Arena by Aaron Corr

My April was spent getting ready for a work trip that I was extending into a long holiday, taking in Orlando, Miami and the Bahamas.  I purposefully held back from shooting too many gigs in advance, however I did have one gig on the calendar for the day I came back and that was this one.  Take That have always put on huge shows with creative visuals for their fans and I didn’t want to let some jet lag get in the way of what would be a fun shoot.

I knew the shoot would be from the middle of the crowd and that a telephoto lens was pretty much all I’d be using.  This doesn’t matter as much with a show of this nature since it’s all about getting the scale of what is on stage.  What I found out after the show was that the best was yet to come, and the first three songs was essentially an empty stage by comparison.  My sister was at the gig and told me how the show kept getting bigger, busier and better, complete with rain which fell in patterns and shapes, band members being raised up to the rafters.  I was there to shoot the three lads in action and I got that, but given the chance to shoot the rest then it would have been icing on the cake.

Bar the distance from the stage to shoot, the only other obstacle was when the crowd got to their feet by the second song.  This meant a lot of dodging and moving to try get the angle I wanted and without people’s heads, hands or phones in the way.  It wasn’t always achievable and either resulted in a little of them getting in the shot or not being able to capture the image at all as planned.  The band moved around the stage quite a bit and were only in the same frame when zoomed in at a handful of times.  The rest of the time they would be separately wandering the circular stage to see other parts of the crowd and give them some face time.

Regardless of how tired I was from my overnight flight and lack of sleep over the last two days, if I was offered a seat to stay I would have been very tempted to stay and see the rest of the show they put on.  As much as they would have been laughable when I was growing up, listening to grunge, Britpop and everything else, they have aged gracefully ( both as a band as well as musically) and are as strong as a three man group and not showing any signs of losing quality for it.

March In Photos by Aaron Corr

March was one of the busiest months I’ve had in quite a while.  Make hay while the sun shines and while the music is good.  I started with Hamilton Laithauser (minus Rostam, ex-Vampire Weekend, who he had made his new album with) in Workmans Club.  I’d seen the Walkmen a few times before but I never realized how tall he was, it took me by surprise as he came out and towered over the small stage in Workos.  It was an hour set and was brilliant from start to finish.  I’ve always loved his voice in The Walkmen, and his solo songs were a lot more personable, and laced with a bit more story, given a humorous background preceding them.  I made sure to get a vinyl signed by him after the show as he drank a pint of Guinness.

Full gallery here.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats were on town before St Paddy's Day to play the Jameson Bow Street Sessions in the Academy for competition winners.  The night before they played a private acoustic gig, streamed live on YouTube and other sites, in the newly refurbished distillery.  GoldenPlec had the chance to interview him and have some behind the scenes photos taken.  I had asked if this brief opportunity would afford me the chance to take a proper portrait but it was just to be for BTS shots, so I left additional flash gear at home and shot with the natural light in the room.  

He was a cool and charming guy.  It was nice to mingle with him and the band after the show.  I had won a Jameson prize last year which still was reaping me benefits this year, so as a result of that I was on the list to go see him do his proper show the next night.  They were fantastic, full of enthusiasm and great stage presence from everyone on stage.

Full gallery here.

When I saw that Rick Astley had sold out the Olympia and that the job was for the taking at GoldenPlec I knew I should do it for the craic.  It’s become a funny talking point in chats with friends since, everyone asks “well, how was the tune live?” but unfortunately I opted not to stay since I had 8 gigs to shoot in 2 weeks and many of the others were gigs I would be staying for the full show.  I did hear one hit song of his in my three song shoot so I was happy with that.

It was a busy photo pit.  Light wise he was very well lit, as you would hope and expect.  The frustrating part is that the rest of the stage can’t be accounted for in many shots otherwise I’d risk over-exposing his face.  Rick was the man of the evening so the camera settings had to be dictated by how he was lit, therefore the rest is underexposed.  He moved around a lot, making sure to cover all sides of the crowd.  Once I’d many a nice shot set up he’d move on quite fast.  Still, it was a fun one to shoot and it’s good to see him enjoying it so long after his initial fame.

Full gallery here.

Ride came to the Olympia Theatre the night after Rick.  I've never, ever listened to them, but I decided to do it given the hullabaloo about them reforming and talk from folk online being very excited for them at previous festivals I'd been to.  It was a busy photo pit again that night, many of whom were big fans of the band.  As the pictures prove, there was lots of purple and blue lights (a pain to post process when over-saturated).  Again, because I had a busy weekend ahead of me I decided not to stay on for more of the gig.  The time it can take to edit would mean I'd be behind before the weekend begins if I don't crack on and begin that night.  

Full gallery here.

On the Friday of the week was the big gig for me.  The Moonlandingz.  They brought Goat Girl along for the tour with them.  I had just missed the opening set by Vulpynes, who were chosen by the band when they put out a call for female bands to apply to support on the tour.  

I was looking forward to The Moonlandingz show since it was announced.  Fat White Family played Whelans the year before and it was one of, if not, my gig of year.  It was mayhem, it was a gig that stands out from everything else and this was my hopes for Lias Saoudi's other project, and I was not disappointed.  They opened with three of their biggest songs, the type that you would have expected nearer the end of any other band's show.  Immediately the crowd was going nuts for them.  From a shooting perspective (I didn't shoot the FWF gig) it seemed a bit easier of a shoot than the Fat White's show but it was still mayhem and a mad experience at the front of the crowd, with no photo pit, and battling against the current as everyone moshed.  The lights were consistent, the only time I'd change settings was when Lias jumped into the crowd.    

Lias, or Johnny Rocket as he is known in this venture, was wrapped in cling film, with a roll of kitchen paper tucked inside, smeared with oil/Vaseline and black painted eyebrows.  He writhed around on stage, jumped into the crowd, crawled around the stage and clung to Rebecca Lucy Taylor during their duet on the Strangle of Anna.  It was a spectacle and another gig the likes of which you rarely see these days.  If you've not seen them yet, then what are you waiting for?  Go!!

Full gallery here.

I had the desire to shoot Austra again in the Button Factory but I hadn't got around to sorting it out versus just going as a punter.  The day before the show I got asked to cover it for The Thin Air so the stars aligned perfectly.  I love this band and Katie Stelmanis' voice.  Exhausted from The Moonlandingz show and the late night that followed, and armed with a fractured finger from the night, I again faced no photo pit and a squeeze through the crowd to shoot the band.  I unfortunately missed the support from Pixx, which looked like a great set to shoot.

Full gallery here.

The Sunday of the weekend left no rest for the wicked but at least a more chilled affair to shoot.  Warpaint in Vicar Street with support from Æ MAK.  I'd yet to see them live, so when I saw their name last minute as support I legged it from my apartment to the venue to be there on time.  The duo who front the band danced their way in sync through each song and provided some cool shots in the process.  

I last shot Warpaint from the aisles of the National Concert Hall last year, so now I got to get up close to shoot from the pit (finally a pit this weekend!!) for The Thin Air.  The lighting conditions were not as ideal as the last time, heavy, low lit blues, purples and smoke drenched the stage.  The harsh colours washed over most of the shots that it made editing another nightmare to get through.  The band had some fairy lights draped over potted plants behind them, which would have made a nice background, however this had limited effect in the results.  The band were great and wound down my weekend perfectly over a pint, watching from the balcony.  

Before I had time to get too settled on the couch after work on a Monday evening I had to get back out there and cover the Car Seat Headrest gig in The Academy.  Traams were the support and played a blinder.  The three song shoot was a lengthy one due to how long their songs went.  I ended up with far more photos than I typically do for a support act, mainly because they were cool to shoot.  I far prefer these results to the headliner's shots.

Car Seat Headrest came on to a dimly lit, and more smoke filled stage than what had preceded them and kicked straight into it.  The guitarist was the most interesting band member to shoot on stage but he was in a shadow a lot of the time.  It wasn't too bad a shoot overall but I don't think anything really pops out for me.  As the gig drew on and I took to the balcony to watch, they kept breaking strings and having to swap guitars and re-string where they could.  It still made for a good gig.

Full gallery here.

After a day's rest from shooting I got back to it for Stormzy in the Olympia Theatre.  I had no idea what to expect since he had not toured in six months and this was his first show back in action.  The crowd was very young and chanting ahead of him taking to the stage.  Annie MAc was in the balcony to watch the show.  The anticipation was huge.  

As he took to the stage and kicked into it, he would stride across the stage in the dark, dim reds and blues barely lighting him.  It was panic stations in the photo pit.  Thank god for the few minutes he took to chat to the crowd in between the second and third song.  This was where we could snap away while he was lit.  The third song thankfully had better lighting and provided some further shots of him in action.  Overall it was not the easiest of shoots and I did think I came out with nothing to show from it.

Full gallery here.

The final gig of March was going to be a belter of show.  Run the Jewels with support by The Gaslamp Killer, once again in the Olympia Theatre.  It was hard to judge when the three song shoot would be over, I shot and left within five minutes.  Although he was cool to shoot, there is still not much variety in shooting a DJ.

Run the Jewels were epic.  It sold out in no time and the venue was buzzing.  Killer Mike and El-P were brilliant to shoot, they barely stop moving on stage but at least when one passes you by, the other isn't far away.  The lights were definitely not of the Stormzy variety which was a relief.  The pit was busy with photographers once more, but this time the band had a videographer shooting with a unit to steady the camera, which proved another obstacle to avoid.

I leave a busy March to have a quiet April.  It's been a busy month with personal stuff and I'm planning a big trip with work that I'm morphing into a holiday in which I will be gone for 15 days, my longest trip away ever I'd say.  So with that I may be quiet for a little while but on my return I hope to bombard the blog with pictures from Orlando, Miami and the Bahamas.  Until next time, adios.

Full gallery here.

December Gigs by Aaron Corr

Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals made their long awaited return to Dublin to play Fuzzy Logic and Radiator in full in the Olympia Theatre.  They've been sorely missed and seeing them back on the stage was one of the brightest musical moments of a dark 2016.  I was covering it for The Thin Air.They came on to a smoky stage in their white laboratory jumpsuits and blasted into God! Show Me Magic.  From the pit we had some elements to battle, the smoke, the low lights and harsh lights and how they reflected off the jumpsuits.  Fuzzy Birds brought with it some deep blues on stage.  The one element that was hardest to catch was when they'd hold up a sign for "Side One" or "Applause" as they'd never light the stage in between songs, along with the animal stage props to the right hand side by Bunf.  With a brighter stage it would have been great to have caught all elements of their show better.

The rules for the show were a little different in that photographers could shoot the last two songs as well as the first three.  This meant we got to catch the band in their Yeti outfits.  The lights still didn't get any better but there was flashes of house lights on stage as the band wrapped up The Man Don't Give a Fuck.  These moments were my favourite in trying to capture the band at their most fun.  Great gig, great albums, great band.  

Teenage Fanclub

Teenage Fanclub

Teenage Fanclub turned out to be my final gig of the year.  I had my name in the hat for Red Hot Chili Peppers in the 3Arena but I took my name out the day before after deciding to see Rogue One for a second time in IMAX 3D.  The following day they cancelled their Dublin dates so it was never going to be.    

The last time I saw them was in Dolans on their Greatest Hits tour, and I felt really young in the crowd then.  It wasn't that feeling this time around unfortunately but the band haven't lost anything over the years, especially their harmonies.  The lights were pretty consistent and the band well lit which made for an easy shoot.  The tighter Academy pit with five photographers getting in and around each other was the only obstacle, however there were some late comers who didn't make the first two as the band were on that little bit earlier than listed.  There's no amazing shots in the set but for the most part it was a well lit, easy shooting experience.

Guns 'n Roses Slane Press Launch

Guns 'n Roses Slane Press Launch

I did my first press launch for a major gig announcement.  The rumour mill was big that this would be Guns 'n Roses, would it be Croke Park, would it be Slane?  Maybe it was something completely different.  Either way I knew it would be big so I put my hand up to attend for GoldenPlec and see what came of it.  The GnR hunch was right and a few of us there were giddy at the thoughts of a band member being there in secret to announce it and give us an amazing photo opp but it wasn't to be.  Lord Henry Mountcharles offspring were there to announce it an pose for the photos.  There was a lot of media there and experts at pushing people aside and shouting for them to look their way.  It was a bit of a cattle mart and a little outside my comfort zone but still worth doing.

Click any picture to see the full gallery.