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.

Metronomy Photoshoot by Aaron Corr

At the end of June The Thin Air gave me a great assignment to photograph Joseph Mount of Metronomy.  I'm a big fan of theirs and photographed them live on the main stage at Longitude last year.  They do that thing for me that LCD Soundsystem used to do every time I'd see them live, they'd make me giddy with happiness.  I don't know what it is but it's a rare thing for me to get at every show by one band, even with those who are my absolute favourites.

Joe was in Dublin for the bones of a day to promote the release of their new album, Summer 08, jetting in early that morning for a day of interviews before taking off again that night for more promo in Paris.  We had a half hour slot with him, meeting up in the Dean Hotel in Dublin city centre.  Myself and my Thin Air colleague, Eoghain, agreed to split it as 20 minutes interview, 10 minutes photoshoot.  This gave me quite a tight slot, especially when I did not know what I had to work with, where would be best to do the shoot in the location or how busy it would be with people, given the time of day it was happening.  

At the venue I decided upon using the smoking area on the ground floor as it had fairy lights on one wall, a tiny bit of natural light and a fireplace with multi-coloured glass and fire logs behind it.  The door to the smoking area is so close to the bar that you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for a staff door, which was to my advantage as it was empty inside, save for a guy on a video conference call on his laptop that left minutes before the shoot.

I tested the natural light with my camera and tried my pocket wizards with the flash, using Warner's very helpful rep as a stand in model, to see how it looked in the room.  Ideally I would have brought a bigger set up (tripod & a soft-box for better portrait lighting) but I sacrificed bringing too much for fear of over complicating things within the time constraints.  To get the natural light in the room I had to use a higher ISO than I would have preferred, combined with a slower shutter speed.  

Joe was taller than I expected.  The fairy lights would have made a nice backdrop for a straight on portrait but they were not high up enough on the wall to accommodate the look I wanted, so I asked Joe to sit on a chair so I could feature them in the background.  The first thing I noticed at this point was that he looked very tired.  This was emphasised more as I looked at the previews on the camera display.  This was completely understandable given all the press he had been doing.  To combat this I asked him to look slightly off camera, over my shoulder, up at lights on the ceiling or through a window depending on where I stood him for the shot.  I used photoshop afterwards to help ease things around the eyes.  I did three quick set ups with him.  

  1. As described above. 
  2. I stood him in a position where the one little gap in the wall that let in natural light, and cigarette smoke out, so I could use it to light him while again keeping the fairy lights behind him.  This is the main shot used for the feature.
  3. In front of the fireplace, making use of the lights overhead and the colours behind him.  This proved tricky in not trying to catch myself in the mirror's reflection, particularly in shots where I tried using off camera flash.

I was told that if I needed the extra few minutes that I could continue but I chose not to keep him any longer as he still had more interviews straight away, and a radio show to go present on TXFM before hitting the airport, so I decided to stick with my allotted time.  He was great to deal with, I chatted briefly with him in between shots about his visits to Ireland and such.  As we were saying our goodbyes I quickly remembered that I meant to ask for a quick photo with him.   I asked this of him & frustratingly said "Can I get a selfie?"  Nooooo!!!  Why??  I hate that word.  He graciously obliged and I took a quick snap on my phone and thanked him for his time.

Click here to read the interview with The Thin Air from that day and click any photo above to see the full gallery I posted.