musician

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.

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Kurt Vile: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

Kurt Vile can be a tough cookie to photograph at a show. With his hari covering his face for the most part, it’s like trying to photograph cousin IT from The Addams Family in a foggy haze. The last time I shot a show of his it was in Whelans on his solo acoustic tour. This was quite a different experience and was tricky during the first song or so.

Kurt managed to show his face a little and from there it was just a battle with the low lighting and dry ice. Some of the colours were really washed out when editing but converted really nice to black & white.

U2: 3Arena by Aaron Corr

Here was a show and a band I was really looking forward to shooting. I saw their last tour for Innocence & Experience in the 3Arena and it was a great show. I remember seeing great photos from those show my peers, and these were what I had in mind when my opportunity came up. Let’s see what Bono and the boys give me to play with. They had very specific directions for where you had to be for certain songs throughout the show. In my mind this meant the optimal angle to shoot from for how they want to be represented, and the lights should be fantastic.

This was not the case unfortunately.

The first song to shoot was the third in the set, I Will Follow. I got to watch the first two songs from the red zone, which fans pay a couple of hundred Euros for the privilege. During the second song, Bono asked the crowd for some light, so they shone their phone’s torchlight throughout the song. The band took to the stage while Bono remained on the cage platform dividing the crowd. He was facing the thousands of fans, a starry background and it looked amazing. But I couldn’t raise my camera to capture it. My fellow photographers on the night looked at each other, sickened to know what a great shot was being missed out.

Bono came back to the main stage to join The Edge, Adam and Larry and kick in to I Will Follow. Camera were drawn and we got to shoot at the same level as everyone else, fans raised their hands in the air and I did my best to try get above this for clear shots and some with them for an “in the thick of it” effect. Some good moments were ruined by a stray hand, covering a kicking Bono in action. The lights were shining directly down on the crowns of their heads, making their faces be in shadow for the song. These pictures are obviously the better portion of the set, some I’m happy with, some are just tricky. The Edge was so far away from us that he couldn’t be given focus during it, and Larry Mullins was obscured by drum stands from where I stood. This was the closest I was going to get, and I was warned by a photographer who shot the night before, that it only got worse.

Mid set we made our way to an aisle to the right of the arena and set up a fold out step to get an extra bit of height over the crowd. It had very limited effect. We were not allowed to move around due to fire wardens directions. The last row of people were mostly sat on their chairs in front of me to give them extra height to see the show. This removed any possibility to take an arena wide shot of all fans surrounding the band. I had to snap these three songs between heads, arms and hands again. The lighting was poor to shoot in from this distance. The max zoom I had was on my 70-200mm. Bono either was in shadow or had his back to us, facing the other side of the arena. There aren’t many shots I feel happy to show off when saying “I shot U2!!”

Later in the second half of the show, we were ushered back into the arena to shoot New Years Day, as the band performed in from of a European Union flag. We were more centred than the mid gig part of the shoot, but again the lights were not great from that distance, and there was still people stood in front of us which affected how shots were taken. Below is an example of how far away I was shooting from. Once again, no picture from this part of the set makes me feel proud.

The band put on a hell of a show from what I saw between being ushered in and out of the arena, but overall I am a little disappointed by the photos.

Boy Pablo: Button Factory by Aaron Corr

I headed to catch Boy Pablo for GoldenPlec on a Bank Holiday Sunday befoer Halloween. I planned to stay for just the three songs as I was tired but the songs were short, catchy and with their penchant to throwing a few pop hits in between to get the crowd going further, I figured I should stay. It was a fun gig and I was surprised by the fandom already on display. I’d never heard of the guy a week previous.

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David Byrne: 3 Arena by Aaron Corr

This will not only go down as one of the best gigs of the year, but on of the best gigs 'I’ve ever been to. As a life long fan of Talking Heads it was a delight to finally see, and photograph David Byrn in the 3Arena for The Thin Air.

I got to shoot the show from the left and right entrance points on the ground floor. This meant having to avoid all the people coming in with their pints to get to their seats, getting in the way of shots. But this didn’t matter. The lights were solid and perfect for shooting, especially at long range. There was barely any photos deleted from this set, they were all so sharp and lit well.

David started on stage with a table and a brain for the first song. I shot from the left side for this and the second song before legging it over to the right hand side for the third song, I Zimbra. When I was done shooting the band began to play Slippery People and I rushed to get my camera lenses detached and packed away so I could run back to my seat and enjoy the full song on time. The show was a joy to watch from start to finish and I want to see it all over again. Let’s see if it goes to Broadway like the stories suggest.

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First Aid Kit: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This is the second time I’ve shot First Aid Kit in the Olympia Theatre, this occasion was for The Thin Air. Opening up for the band were The Staves, who I had also shot previously in Whelans. First Aid Kit had a curtain covering most of the stage, so the Stave sisters were very much set up towards the front of the stage. With the height of the Olympia stage it very much felt like most vantage points led to shooting ‘up the nose’ as they say, which isn’t the best angle or flattering. Combine this with the mic stands and equipment they had set up for sampling their vocals, the angles were narrow and tricky and I can’t say there is a photo I particularly like from this set.

The Staves

The Staves

First Aid Kit’s set I thought would be a better shoot. The hindrance was the colours used on stage, which can be a frustration when editing, particularly when they are used as low light while the Soderberg sister’s hang towards the back of the stage for a portion of the first song. They are a great band to shoot but if I was to compare, my first experience with them in the Olympia was a better experience.

The other frustration during their set was that they were lit well for a good portion of the set but the lights that were lighting them from front on were causing lots of microphone shadow on their faces, as seen of the next photo of Klara. I ended up focusing on her less because her mouth and chin were lost in the photos as she stood singing. Johanna sang less during those songs and therefore was standing back a little more, making her a better performer to photograph.

Their set was good and their singing perfect, however I did prefer their set and energy on stage at All Together Now in the summer. Their latest album is one of my favourite albums of the year.

Negative Gemini: The Grand Social by Aaron Corr

Straight off the back of my long overdue holiday, GoldenPlec offered me two assignment for the day I returned. No rest for the wicked. Shooting this show was the second of the two shoots I had that day, and boy was it a challenge!

The Grand Social can be tricky to shoot in sometimes due to the lighting and this was definitely one of those cases. Lindsey French, aka Negative Gemini, took to the dark stage and leaped around in a black coat and tinkered with her samplers and keyboard to either side of the stage. A screen projected images along to her songs but this largely created a large white light when trying to expose for Lindsey in the dark corners. Focusing was tricky on it’s own, never mind keeping the shot from blurring due to long exposures combined with the high ISO in use.

After the show I approached Lindsey to ask if I could grab a quick portrait with her. With the video projector still in use on the stage I decided to use that and light her with it. I took five quick snaps and said my goodbyes. I love the psychedelic nature of how they turned out.

Check out her interview with GP and review of the show. Click any image for the full gallery.

Julien Baker: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

GoldenPlec sent me to shoot the Julien Baker show in Vicar Street. They had featured her quite a bit in advance, with an interview on the site ahead of the show. I didn’t manage to listen to her much but I came out captivated by her songs, her voice and her power on stage.

Becca Mancari

Becca Mancari

Support came from Nashville’s Becca Mancari. She was to be with another guitarist but had to go solo due to a Ryanair issue. She was funny and charming on stage, and the lights were perfect for capturing her performing.

Becca Mancari

Becca Mancari

Julien Baker

Julien Baker

There’s not much I can say about Julien Baker’s performance that hasn’t been said in the GoldenPlec review. What I can say was that, much like the support, the lighting conditions were excellent and the spotlights in particular adding to the effect. So much so I made sure to take more wider shots to incorporate them highlighting her on stage. The only distraction was the keyboard set up which got in the way when shooting from the left side. Not a big deal in the overall scale of things. It was a amazing performance by an artist I look forward to hearing a lot more from.

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