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Gruff Rhys: Button Factory by Aaron Corr

Gruff Rhys is one of the most laid back, and charming frontmen His dry wit, and long sentences that take an forever to get out add to the enjoyment of seeing him live. He played two sets on this tour, with a full band rather than solo. The first set was the full Babelsberg album, the second set was a bunch of his past solo material.

Lighting wise it was very, very low, and consistently so. The ISO was turned up very high and shutter speeds as slow as I could manage. The shooting angles were also very limited since Gruff had two microphone stands in front of him. If you venture beyond the left side of Gruff to photograph him then you couldn’t see his face. From that same point if you wanted to catch Kliph Scurlock, ex Flaming Lips drummer, then his cymbals got in the way of snapping him in the darkness. So all the angles are pretty much the same, except for one from the balcony taken during the second set.

Click here for full gallery.

Pip Blom: Whelans Upstairs by Aaron Corr

I first caught Pip Blom earlier in the year supporting The Breeders earlier in the year in Vicar Street, and thought they were a deadly band. 8Radio championed them after that point so they kept in my mind, and I kept up to speed with what they were up to and awaited another Irish show. This finally came with one of the final dates of their own European tour.

Shrug Life

Shrug Life

Support on the night came from Shrug Life. Normally a three piece, this time Danny Carroll performing solo, and then a portion of the set with backing vocals by Naoise Roo.

Initially it looked like it would be a case of loud band playing to quiet crowd but people soon relaxed and got really into it. There may not have been moshing, but there was dancing by some, and enthusiasm with the whole room.

The lights were the same throughout, and were the usual pain in the arse to try and calm in the editing. After the show I hung around to try get a portrait with the band after they sold some merch. They were lovely and gracious in doing so. I took the portrait in the hallway between the room and backstage, using the ambient light. In shooting gigs I don’t bring flash with me, so you make do with what you got.

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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.

Rosborough: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

The GoldenPlec Plec Picks shoot with Rosborough was a last minute addition to my schedule of shoots.  The Derry man was in town to play the Paul McLoone Christmas show in the Workmans Club with Bitch Falcon and Otherkin.  The shoot would have to happen in or around the venue between soundchecks.  I was used to this happening with the GoldenPlec gigs that used to run every month in there, but the need to make the shoot not look the same as all the portrait shoots that has happened there is the tricky part.

I arrived to meet Glenn and set up my usual equipment, Canon 430 EXII Flash on a tripod lit through a soft-box.  I got him to stand and I took some portraits where I’d darken the background so that it is not visible.  There was some reflection of the flash in the doors that I removed or muted in photoshop.  We took some wider shots that takes in the main bar room of Workmans before I made things a little more portable to take photos on the stairway.

I used a portable soft-box, held in my left hand and tested this for a few shots while Glenn sat on the stairs.  I wanted to get a look with the yellow and red steps adding some muted colour to the shots.  We finished up with the same set up on the landing between the ground and first floor.  The look of there has changed since I took Orla Gartland’s portait there so I didn’t feel like I was retreading old turf by shooting there. 

I've seen Rosborough twice now, once acoustic, and the past weekend electric with his drummer.  His voice is incredible, and he really has the potential to have an amazing career.  If you get a chance to catch him live, do it.

Click to read the feature, click here to see my gallery.

Vulpynes: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

Vulpynes were the first band I shot for GoldenPlec's Plec Picks for 2018.  Maeve & Kaz hit upon the idea of using the Light House cinema in Smithfield as an interior for some of the shoot.  It was December, it was freezing and the options can be tricky.  We got the go ahead from the manager, and a time for when it wouldn’t be too busy in the halls while screenings were in progress.  The trick to this part of the shoot was balancing the ambient light with the strobe.  I wanted to get these wide shots, but the strobe sometimes would overpower the fairy lights.  While there was no one breathing down our necks to hurry it up, I knew we had to keep things ticking along and not take the piss, so I got to a point where the lighting felt like a happy medium.   

I took some solo snaps of each of the girls, leaving the strobe alone for these shots since being this close to the fairy lights wasn't working to balance the two.

We ventured out to the cold and had a look towards a pub that we hoped to use.  It was busy for a Monday so we nixed that idea.  We moved up towards the Old Woolen Mills area to see what the square there was like.  We shot a few portraits on staircase, I used my portable soft-box for this part of the shoot.

We moved on to a location I'd long had in mind to use.  It was just around the corner from where I live in Dublin 7 and was a corner of a traffic junction, previously a wall with posters on it, and now it's a section of a rustic garden.  I like finding places in the city centre that look like you are somewhere completely different.  I set up the strobe on a tripod with the soft-box and we took within five minutes to take some photos as traffic passed us by.  Maeve and Kaz were great to hang out with and I'm grateful for them to participate in some of the colder shots on the night.  

Click to read the feature, and here for my gallery.

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.

HMLTD: Workmans Club by Aaron Corr

I ran from Juanita Stein's show in The Grand Social and made my way in to Workman's Club (thanks to a Twitter win) and took some more photos for The Thin Air.  HMLTD are a band to be reckoned with.  A GoldenPlec colleague highly recommended them to many of us, saying the four shows he's seen (now five) were some of the best gigs he'd seen that year.  He described them to me as a mix of Fat White Family and Moonlandingz in terms of live spectacle.  

Technical glitches aside, they were brilliant and so much energy.  The half full venue all got into it and lapped it up.  There was no standing far back from the stage in embarrassment, everyone was up towards the stage jumping around.  With a pint in hand, I snapped a few pictures from my various vantage points and then took in the show.  Hopefully by the time they return they will have built a bigger audience to make it a gig to rival their English shows look.

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.