The Academy

Slaves: The Academy by Aaron Corr

It was a busy photo pit on the night of Slaves return to Dublin. Opening up the show was Murder Capital. It was my first time catching them and I was taken by how animated they were onstage. With the narrow pit and photographers brushing past each other, I kept thinking I’d get hit on the head by a wandering bass or guitar head. They are ones to watch and I’ll be seeing them again this very night opening for Shame.

Murder Capital

Murder Capital

Slaves were great to shoot, given how animated Laurie and Isaac are on stage. Laurie is easier to shoot given he is not surrounded by standing drums, and he takes to leaning over the stage to meet the crowd. There were a lot of strobes through the shoot time but it was still manageable to catch some good action in a burst of snaps. They were the complete opposite of the cheesy tunes they played for the crowd as their stage was set up, but the crowd lapped it all up.

Read The Thin Air review here.

Sigrid: The Academy by Aaron Corr

Sigrid is a star on the rise, so I made sure to get to her show to catch her on the smaller stage for GoldenPlec before she ends up playing bigger, and less intimate shows.  I only stayed for the three songs I shot so I can't really comment on the gig itself, but you can read all about it here.  I did have a giggle at the set list noting when to talk to the crowd, and what to say.  The crowd were going crazy for her on the night and I don't think the smile once left her face while I was taking photos.

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.

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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.  

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.    

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.  

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.

November Photos by Aaron Corr

ABC

ABC

Oops, I forgot to make an October update.  Did anything happen?  Let me think.  Oh yes!  I shot Jean-Michel Jarre and Death Grips, then went on holiday to Berlin and Prague.  I may post about the Death Grips gig in its own little blog as it was one of, if not the worst gigs I’ve ever shot.  I’ll leave those details til then.  Back to now, and by now I mean November.  What seemed like a lackluster month of shooting again turns out to be quite great in the end.  With everything crammed into one week that bled into December I just had it in mind that these all happened in the month of Christmas, and that ABC would be the only gig I’d shoot that month.  Not the case, so let’s begin. 

Martin Fry and ABC played the Olympia earlier in the month.  It was a finely lit show but the only problem is that Martin walked around loads.  Sure, it’s better than a boring front-man standing still and doing nothing interesting, but he’d go to the back of the stage where it wasn’t well lit, then at the front he mostly had the microphone right in his face (he is a singer after all), leaving few clear shots of his face when he was brightly lit.  The best band part to shoot was the interaction between the saxophonist and the guitarist.  

Brand New

Brand New

Later in the month I headed to the double whammy that was the Biffy Clyro, with support from Brand New.  Brand New were all over my social media pages when they last played in Vicar Street a while back.  It seemed like most people I knew were at it, or complaining that they weren’t.  I only really know that one song that was played loads on MTV2 years ago, back when we had music channels that mostly played music.  I expected dark stage and intermittent spells of light on the band and that’s what I got.  The guitarist on the right of the stage was the coolest member to shoot, as he flailed his guitar and hair around on stage. 

Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro

I had come for Biffy however.  Though I’m not a fan of them, I was looking forward to shooting their show.  I knew they’d be energetic, have great lights and leave me with some cool shots to use.  They didn’t disappoint.  The downside was the band’s own video cameras rigs in the pit, and how extra high the stage was to shoot.  It didn’t take a whole lot away from the shoot but the higher the stage, the harder it is to take in a cool shot of the band giving it their all on stage in a wide shot.  I expected Simon Neil to be topless throughout so lucky for me, and not for any admirers looking at the pictures, he had a long white scientist/doctor coat on throughout.  

Hinds

Hinds

Hinds are a band that were on my radar a while but who had yet to play Ireland.  I’d see cool pictures of them pop up in my Instagram feed by great photographers I follow so when I saw they were playing I put my name down for it.  It was quite last minute as it wasn’t well advertised, or at least nothing stood out to me that they were coming.  It was supposed to be The Academy but was moved to the smaller, basement level Academy 2 due to sales.  This made for a far better gig as the space was packed with an enthusiastic crowd, something that gets lost in a half empty, bigger venue.  The tour manager gave the go ahead for photos to be taken during the last 3 songs.  That left me and fellow photographer, Colm Kelly, triying to count the songs out from the napkin set list on stage, a short distance away.  The tour manager swung by again and said we could get 2 songs mid set as well.  I’d seen in images that they tend to crowd surf and realized only then that I should have brought a flash just in case, though we’re never allowed to use it for the regular first three/no flash shoots.  This may have been a different case.

The pit was tiny, which made for awkward to squeeze into position, with the singer, Carlotta, asking if she could grab her drink from the space before I tried squeeze by.  The lights never changed and the girls were well lit, but for each time I went into the pit I didn’t shuffle around too much for different angles in case I’d annoy fans at the barrier or the band.  We shot the last 2 songs, having miscounted, but the band discussed among themselves and did a three song encore.  The tour manager gave us the thumbs up to stay where we were.  I needn’t have worried about the flash for any crowd surfing.  The band opted not to, maybe because of the tight space between the crowd’s heads and the roof of the room.  You could tell they wanted to though, they seemed to like Dublin.

Bo Ningen

Bo Ningen

I was looking forward to potentially shooting Primal Scream during the month and thankfully the photo pass came my way.  I headed along early to shoot the Japanese support, Bo Ningen.  I figured it was going to be a mass of long hair waving every which way.  Combine that with dark red and blue/purple lights and it makes for a tough edit in Lightroom afterwards.

Primal Scream

Primal Scream

Primal Scream on the other hand can teach many a band a few things about stage lighting.  It was perfect, for the first and third song at least.  Straight from the start Bobby Gillespie was wandering the stage, doing his rock star poses, clapping and doing his thing.  It was hard to take a bad shot, though of course I did initially because all my camera settings were prepared for a darker stage and everything was blown out for the first burst of images.  That was quickly fixed.  I tended to stick with the 24-70mm on the Canon 6D and only used the 70-200mm zoom on the Canon 7D a little for the odd close up.  This is my standard practice but in this instance I wanted to capture the full stage and as much of the band as I could.  The set was laced with hits and the band were in top form.  More bands should take note of their use of stage lights.  Then again, that might make the job a little too easy.

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