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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.

Growing Up Kurt Cobain: Press Launch by Aaron Corr

Nirvana changed my life.  I was 10 years old when they exploded, yet I missed that because we didn’t have MTV growing up.  It was Come As You Are that got on my radar, followed by hearing Nevermind on a trip with my cousins to the Aran islands.  It blew my mind.  By the time I got a copy of it I could remember every tune, there wasn’t a single dud on that record.  In two years’ time Kurt Cobain was dead.  His death still lingers and his influence on me remains.  Nirvana completely changed my mind set, especially for the music I was listening to. 

The combination of Newbridge Silverware hosting items of Kurt’s a year ago jarred me.  Then again I had no idea that they had a Museum of Style Icons.  It began to make a little more sense.  It was funny seeing clothes of Kurt’s nearby to Princess Diana’s dresses, Marilyn Monroe’s clothes and the like.  When the news broke that his mother, sister and daughter were all going to come to Ireland to open a new exhibition, Growing Up Kurt Cobain, I leaped at the chance to cover it for The Thin Air.  I never in a million years thought I would get this close to Kurt.  A few years ago I met Chad Channing and I thought that was my lot.  To meet photograph Kurt’s daughter, Frances Bean, mother Wendy O’Connor, and sister, Kim was a true privilege. 

I photographed the second day of press, which was for Irish media.  The previous day saw the family do interviews with news media, this day they conducted the interview with Dave Fanning for press to take their soundbites from.  I was initially told I could shoot without flash, and that I would get time to take photos of the family after the q&a.  This didn’t get to transpire in the end, and my non-flash photos had to rival press who used flash throughout.  I can’t complain, I have photos that I’m happy with, though a portrait of the family would have been the icing on the cake. 

At the same time I got to listen to them discuss Kurt, his growing up, the effect he had on them and people they meet.  It was very interesting to hear and not something I ever thought to hear his family talk about in person, and then meet them!  Amazing day for me personally, and a great exhibition for Nirvana fans.  I’ll be passing through it again before it’s gone.

Click to see the full gallery for The Thin Air.

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.

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.

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.    

Green Day: Royal Hospital Kilmainham by Aaron Corr

GoldenPlec sent me to cover Green Day in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.  It was a very wet and rainy night in Dublin, in between all the nice weather we had been having, which was unfortunate.  I had just one camera cover to do me as I used two camera bodies to shoot the gig.  I didn't know which was better or worse, having it to keep one dry, or to just do without it as it kept getting in the way of me accessing buttons.

There was two songs to shoot from the pit but the band gave ample time with these two tracks to catch them in action.  During the first song Billie Joe Armstrong pulled a fan to the stage and got her to stage dive after a bit of singing and hugging.  He moves around so fast on stage that you were constantly having to move, focus and readjust, trying to be careful to not bump into security or other photographers.  When Bille Joe went out to the platform, we couldn't go further out to shoot a nice wide angle of him with the stage as the background from the side I shot at.  The grey/white cloudy skies were also an uninspirational backdrop compared to a sunny day or some cool looking clouds.  

By the time the second song was started into the cameras were struggling even more to focus through the rain.  I've some great shots that are wasted as a result of this, though one or two others had a cool, near bokeh effect but still not worthy of using overall.  Another missed opportunity was the pyrotechnics which went off every now and then when I wasn't expecting, and when Bille Joe was out towards the crowd on his platform.  So because I was shooting him while he was near me I missed those shots.  It was a quick enough shoot and unfortunately I couldn't stay to watch the band, but the prospect of going home, getting dry and going to see Baby Driver in the cinema was just as good an opportunity at that stage.  31 years going and the band have still got it though.

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.

Click an image to see the full gallery.