canon 7D

Arctic Monkeys: 3Arena by Aaron Corr

The Thin Air sent me to the 3Arena to shoot Arctic Monkeys with support by The Lemon Twigs. Or The Lemon Twig I should say, as only Michael Daddario was available to play due to Brian being sick. It took away from the dynamic of shooting both brothers on stage but Michael still provided enough hair flicks and poses to make things look a little interesting.

Shooting Arctic Monkeys was cool but as lavish and well lit as their stage display was, there was still frustrations to ruin wider shots, hence why my favourite shots are mostly close ups. They opened with Four Out of Five, with Alex taking to the microphone doing his best lounge singer impression, before moving further back to the keyboard.

As they kick into Brianstorm they strobe lights kick into full gear. Looks great but getting a good focus alone never mind framing during it was the battle. The lights were more reliable during Snap Out of It, but then the overhead display was moved upwards and lights off, which took away from the initial set dynamic that was interesting to shoot.

Click here to read the review of the show.

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.

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.

St. Vincent: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

After beginner her tour that week in the UK to rave reviews from critics, but mixed reviews from Twitter punters, St. Vincent returned to Ireland to play two shows in the Olympia Theatre.  Annie Clark was allowing photographers to shoot four songs in the middle of the show, catching her last two songs performed in the first set, and the first two songs of the second set.  This meant I got to take photos of her in two different outfits she wore for the show which mixed up the look of the whole photo set.

The feedback from the Dublin shows was phenomenal, the was no mixed reaction like in the UK to her appearing solo, there was no screams of "glorified karaoke".  The show highlighted how great a voice she has and even more so highlighted what an amazing guitarist she is.  Wielding her many coloured variations of her signature Ernie Ball guitar, she out shined many a guitar hero and put herself up there with the best.

For the first set she wore a pink PVC/leather outfit with knee high boots and sang from different areas of the stage for each song, sometimes barely visible from my vantage point in the crowd, hidden by speakers.  The lighting was a photographer's dream so when it came time to the shoot the lighting mixed between good strong lighting on Annie, to some strobes, low lights and light smoke. 

For the second set she worse the silver dress and the background was now giant screens.  My only gripe on that front was that, although the background colours and images were fantastic to use, the lines across the screen and moiré that would appear on the shots take a little bit away from the final result.  For the solid colour backgrounds I did contemplate giving it a bit of a blur to get rid of the effect but let them be since I couldn't do it for all of them.  While the results may be cooler from the last few tours with her band , I must say that overall this was one of my favourite shows to shoot, ever.

LCD Soundsystem: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

LCD Soundsystem

This is going to be a lot different from the usual blog posts.  In this one I'm going to vent a little, the kind in which I’ve worn the ears off of many friends in many pubs many a time.  LCD Soundsystem were one of my favourite bands of the noughties.  The announcement that they were to split was expected on their third album cycle, it was an inevitability, but the sadness was replaced with delight in knowing that James Murphy chose to end LCD on a high with three great albums, rather than potentially taint their overall discography later in their career.  Many bands don’t consider this, and their importance & greatness fades with the bland music that they generate long after their heyday.  The decision made a welcome change from legends being made out of death, drug overdoses, or whatever other clichés the rock n’ roll life brings with it.

Some of my best gig memories were from LCD shows, be it their own headline gigs or at festivals, and with that comes my biggest problem with LCD Soundsystem.  They reformed.  Within the time it takes many big bands to follow up an album, James Murphy decided to resurrect LCD.  So much hullaballoo had been made about their final show in Madison Square Garden; Saturday nights out were abandoned to stay in and watch the live stream, we went to the cinema to watch the documentary/concert film Shut Up & Play the Hits, we bought the expensive vinyl package and DVD tie ins.  I knew he would still release music under the LCD moniker, and that was fine, but to go back on this bold move felt like a con.  I like my rock stars and artists to have commitment and integrity, but with this choice I didn't see either.  It detracted from my love of their past glories, and even in Primavera 2016 I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to just let it go and enjoy the show.  When the songs come on shuffle now I tend to skip them.  I wanted to love them still, but I struggled to rekindle my love for them.

Now there is a new album, of which some songs have been tempting me to come back and join the party.  It’s not perfect, it’s not their best album and it’s nothing revolutionary.  It is simply LCD doing what they do well.  With the new tour off the back of this album I had a desire to shoot their show but it was looking like I’d missed the boat to get my name down for it.  A last week change to The Thin Air roster for their Olympia show was to my advantage and I got to go shoot them.  I looked forward to capturing the hanging disco ball lighting them up as I’d seen many cool photos of this from Electric Picnic.  I had a two song limit, which wasn’t too bad since they’ve long songs.  The issue during the shoot was that the lighting was pretty crap during the first song.  Lighting improved during the second song but the disco ball never was used to our advantage.  It was still tough to get well lit close ups of Nancy Whang, Al Doyle, and to a lesser extent Pat Mahoney.

I stayed for the rest of the show of course, and I did enjoy it a lot more than my experience as “the grumpy one in the crowd” at Primavera.  The band drank far more on stage than I’d ever noticed before, getting wine top ups from roadies mid-song, James flipped though lyric sheets to the side of him.  Things have certainly changed, but they still sound as good as they did pre-split and I guess that should be the most important thing.  Maybe slowly but surely I’m coming back around, but it will never be the same.      

Click here to see full gallery, and to read a better review of the show than I can express check out my mate Bernard's GoldenPlec review.

Pet Shop Boys: Bord Gais Energy Theatre by Aaron Corr

Pet Shop Boys

The Pet Shop Boys played two sold out nights in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre on September 5th.  I covered the first of the two shows for The Thin Air.  I honestly didn't think photo passes would be granted, I was told by another photographer that they denied them on their last visit.  I was allowed to shoot the first four songs, which gave me a chance to do two songs from each side of the theatre.  It was to be a Front of House shoot but there is no access to FOH due to the seating set up in the theatre.  

The band had good visuals in the background but the head-wear was a little distracting when trying to get a shot of them at the right time.  By the fourth song Chris Lowe removed his headpiece and this gave me a last minute or two to try and catch him in action.  At that stage they were lit by red lights which is never a favourite.  All in all it was another classic band added to my list of photographed bands, which is never a bad thing.

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.