Olympia

The Best Gigs Of 2018 by Aaron Corr

2018 saw some amazing gigs come this way. My absolute best gigs of the year, one, two or three of which are up there in the list of best I’ve ever experienced, I was in attendance but not shooting. So to begin things I’m going to take a look at the best gigs this year that I photographed. Not to be mistaken for the best shows to shoot, these are the best gigs I saw, heard and experienced in all their glory.

Part 1: Best gigs I shot.

Wild Beasts: The Olympia

The band announced their impending split toward the end of 2017, bowing out with three final shows in the new year, one of which was a final Irish show on February 15th in the Olympia Theatre. It was their second last show ever and it was everything you would want from a Wild Beasts gig. They played a selection from all their albums split out over two sets. If you were at a festival and they played either of these sets it would have been brilliant, never mind getting both fully rounded out, and well conceived set lists in one night. There was no support, the whole night was devoted to them and saying goodbye. It sent shivers up my spine at times, and the crowd sang along and reacted like I’d never seen before at one of their shows. They truly ended on a high.

Click here for the full gallery.

Paul Draper: Workmans Club

I have to add this to the best of 2018 list, if not for it being great to finally see Paul Draper return to playing gigs, because Mansun’s epic Attack of the Grey Lantern was played in full to mark it’s anniversary. This was an album I came to late in it’s own promotional cycle. I got in to Mansun on time before they ultimately came back with Six, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. Like Wild Beasts, Paul’s gig was comprised of two sets; the first being his solo material (which the crowd lapped up) and then Grey Lantern. It was an incredibly packed and sweaty gig. Paul could let the fans sing as much of the album as needed. It was a fun show. Here’s to when he comes back to pay Six in full.

Click here for full gallery.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: 3Arena

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are not a band that swing by Ireland very often. I missed them back around 2002 when they played in the High Stool in Limerick. They seemed happy to just play a festival here every once in a blue moon, and the only times I’ve caught them were at Electric Picnic in 2006 and Longitude in 2013. On this night they were more a co-headliner with Beck than mere support. They were touring the anniversary of debut album Fever to Tell, but this was not just a nostalgia show or a run through the album from start to finish. Karen stalked the stage, singing and screaming to songs from all through their career. They played for a good 1hr 15mins, and given Beck’s delays to get onstage, they may have just pipped him to the post with a longer set. While I enjoyed Beck’s set, the first half was flawless while the second half lagged. That’s why I’m highlighting this as Yeah Yeah Yeah’s show to steal.

Click here for full gallery, and here for The Thin Air’s review.

Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever: Whelans

I am still getting used to saying their name right. Even as I typed the header I got it all mixed up. The Aussie’s brought the heat with them on this night as they gave Whelans a very hot and sweaty August gig. They have just been announced to support Idles in Iveagh Gardens in 2019, turning an already great gig into something extra special. There’s not much else I can add to the review below so just take my word and get an Idles ticket if you haven’t already.

Click here for full gallery and here for The Thin Air’s review..

Julien Baker: Vicar Street

This gig took me by surprise. I was a last minute addition to the list to shoot this show, and I can’t say I’d ever heard a track of Julien’s before that night. Her set was extraordinary, her voice is incredible and the guitar sounds were gorgeous. The gig made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up many a time.

Click here for full gallery, and here for GoldenPlec’s review.

David Byrne: 3Arena

One of my biggest gig regrets was leaving the front of the Electric Arena when David Byrne & St Vincent were to take to the stage, to go to the Main Stage to see another band I loved play an alright set. Everything I heard about the show I missed was that it was an “I was there” moment, and I missed it. Finally getting to see him playing a host of classic Talking Head songs and solo material, while putting on an amazing visual performance on stage in the 3Arena made up for it. The atmosphere with the crowd was one of pure joy, with everyone out of their seats and dancing for the majority of the show. Seeing Slippery People, Naive Melody and Road to Nowhere live will stay with me for a very long time. If he brings the show to a Broadway residency I’ll be booking my tickets first thing.

Click here for full gallery.

Interpol: Olympia Theatre

For the first time ever I went to see a full three night residency of a band in the Olympia. This wasn’t entirely planned on my part, but it’s the way it worked out and I’m all the more delighted for it. Over the three nights they relied on the same foundation of a set list but changed up a lot of tracks on each show. Over three nights they played all but Obstacle 2 from Turn on the Bright Lights.

Click here for full gallery.

Part 2: Best gigs I didn’t shoot.

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Arcade Fire: 3Arena

Seeing Arcade Fire “in the round” was an experience. It brought you closer to the band, the band rotating around the stage so you got different vantage points from the one spot, and the light show topped it off. The set was brilliant, and thankfully didn’t throw in any of the weaker tracks from Everything Now. The show was designed to bring the band and audience together and they succeed completely.

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Kilmainham

This show goes down as one of the all time best I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Nick Cave at festivals a few times over the year, and he is truly one of the best, and most passionate performers you’ll ever see. I wondered how he would bring the intimacy of his smaller Skeleton Tree shows to a large outdoor show but he effortlessly pulled it off. Emotions ran high in the crowd during songs like Into My Arms and Distant Sky, and many tears were shed. He still brought the darker songs out for a run through, as well as bringing many fans to the stage during the murderous Stagger Lee. The gig was epic and unforgettable. Not only is this my gig of the year, I think it has safely secured a place in my top five shows of all time.

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The Killers with Franz Ferdinand: RDS

I love a good double header of a gig, especially if it happens to be outdoors and the sun is shining bright. Franz Ferdinand opened the evening for The Killers, and played a shorter version of their Olympia set from earlier in the year. The Killers came on and played a killer set (pardon the pun) and kept the crowd in great form, singing along to all their hits. Brandon channeled an Elvis look in the encore, coming out in a gold suit to finish the night in Las Vegas style.

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Idles: Button Factory

This show goes head to head with David Byrne to battle for my second place for gig of the year. I was happy to not shoot it and just take it all in, especially since it turned out to be dark lighting conditions, and full of strobes for the most part for shooting, and you could barely move an inch with all the jumping and moshing in the crowd. I ended up on stage at one point, jumping around with a bunch of other fans while the band played and in the crowd at the same time. They have provided the album of the year and their show does everything in it’s power to try win it’s place as gig of the year. They’ve got two Dublin shows already in line for 2019, both of which I will be there yelling Danny Nedelko at the top of my lungs.

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.

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.

April Photos by Aaron Corr

Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa

I have been a little slow to update the blog in the last few months.  Between moving house and getting settled, while working and covering gigs, life got the better of me.  Time to get back in the habit.  The first April gig I covered was the first of Dua Lipa's two sold out Olympia shows for GoldenPlec.  Although I didn't stay to watch, the first three songs more than showed that she was a heck of a performer.  The photo pit was busy that night but the lights were so good that it made up for all the bumping of cameras in the pit.  For the first time in a pit I had someone bash the back of my head with their camera.  

Click here for my full gallery.

Dowry

Dowry

I expected to see more live music on Record Store Day this year but they all began in the late afternoon, the weather was superb and I had a BBQ that needed cooking back home.  As a result I just managed to catch Ena Brenna performing as Dowry in Freebird records.  I'd yet to catch her solo so took this opportunity.  

Lyla Foy

Lyla Foy

The only other April gig I photographed was Mercury Rev for The Thin Air, which saw the band celebrating the anniversary of Deserters Songs.  Support came from Lyla Foy.

Mercury Rev

Mercury Rev

The show was a great performance of stories mixed with stripped back versions of their classics, with a Pavement cover thrown in for good measure.  It felt a little like watching a VH1 songwriters show and was very heartwarming.  The songs sound as beautiful as ever, especially in the intimacy of Whelans.

Full gallery here.

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.

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. 

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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