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.

Click here for full gallery.

Slaves: The Academy by Aaron Corr

It was a busy photo pit on the night of Slaves return to Dublin. Opening up the show was Murder Capital. It was my first time catching them and I was taken by how animated they were onstage. With the narrow pit and photographers brushing past each other, I kept thinking I’d get hit on the head by a wandering bass or guitar head. They are ones to watch and I’ll be seeing them again this very night opening for Shame.

Murder Capital

Murder Capital

Slaves were great to shoot, given how animated Laurie and Isaac are on stage. Laurie is easier to shoot given he is not surrounded by standing drums, and he takes to leaning over the stage to meet the crowd. There were a lot of strobes through the shoot time but it was still manageable to catch some good action in a burst of snaps. They were the complete opposite of the cheesy tunes they played for the crowd as their stage was set up, but the crowd lapped it all up.

Read The Thin Air review here.

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.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Whelans by Aaron Corr

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, all the way from sunny Australia, made their debut Irish show in Whelans, and they brought the heat with them.  It wasn't even a sunny day but the heat was stifling in the venue.  It's been a while since I shot a show, though I've attended quite a few in the blog's downtime.  



Opening up the show was Melts, who impressed me a lot.  After just two songs of shooting them the sweat was dripping down my face, such was the heat in the not-yet-packed Whelans.  They didn't share the same drum kit as Rolling Blackouts, which brought a bit of change to the normal support set up, and gave a real closeness to the drummer shots.



Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

By the time Rolling Blackouts C.F. arrive on stage I was craving one of their beers with the heat.  Mine was long gone, and the place was getting even sweatier once they kicked things off.  The five piece were infectious from start to finish, with some great guitar solos and interplay.

At one point bassist, Joe Russo, broke a string and draped it over his head like an additional guitar strap and ploughed on through the rest of the song.  The band were in jovial form for their last night of the European tour before making their way to the USA.  Lighting wise, it was the usual Whelans set up throughout the night, some overblown colour LED's making editing afterwards a bit of a headache.

The band hung out afterwards to sign vinyl and chat to fans.  I for one went away with a signed record and a promise that they plan to come back again as soon as they can.  Vicar Street no doubt beckons them on their return.

Read the review of the show on The Thin Air, and here for more photos. 



Paul Draper: Workmans Club by Aaron Corr

I was a big fan of Mansun back in the day, still am.  Attack of the Grey Lantern was an album I came around to a couple of months after its release, and then Six blew me away and remains one of my favourite albums ever.  A desert island disc for me.  I had seen what turned out to be the band’s last ever gig, in Dublin in 2002.  It was a half-hearted run through ten songs, half older, half new, and guarantee of no encore.  I missed seeing them in their hey-day as a live band because they never came to Ireland properly.  Paul Draper’s eventual return as a solo artist was good to see and a date in Workmans Club where he was to play solo material, followed by a second set of Attack of the Grey Lantern in full was a must see.

The gig was packed, very sweaty and had loads of singing along from the crowd, even throughout the solo material.  I shot the show for MCD and came out nearly having to wipe sweat off the lens, it was that hot in the venue.  The lights were consistent and not too dim compared to the usual Workmans standards.  The constant promises to return to play Six in full had me leaving even happier than I would have been having just watched the gig itself.  Roll on Paul’s next visit here.  He can no doubt get a bigger venue next time around too. 

The Horrors: Tivoli Theatre by Aaron Corr

As we neared Halloween The Horrors returned to our shores.  I went to cover the show for The Thin Air.  They beat hurricane Ophelia to make it to Belfast the day before but the venue cancelled for safety concerns, making Dublin the only Irish date on the tour.  They brought two support acts to the Tivoli with them, starting with The Fontaines.  These guys were great.  I'd yet to hear their music but had seen their name pop up a lot lately on social media.  It was my first also my first experience shooting in the Tivoli.  The lights were fine for the openers.  However, I knew it wouldn't stay this way for the rest of the night.

Second up to the stage was Baba Naga, bringing with them louder and longer songs.  They were a strain to shoot, and were the midway point between the experience of shooting The Fontaines Vs The Horrors.  The singer/bassist was barely ever lit throughout, the guitarist had the most intermittent lights in his direction, while the drummer was sparingly lit with harsh colours and strobes.  The lights for their set and The Horrors made for some painful editing in Lightroom.

The Horrors came on around 10pm, which is quite late by Dublin mid-week standards.  The sound was a little bit muddy which is what I've come to expect from seeing them a few times.  Faris' vocals could have been a bit louder but they exuded quite a good bit of energy on stage, more than I've seen them do in past tours.  Joshua Hayward and Rhys Webb in particular were in flying form on stage.  

Although I knew what to expect going in to this shoot, the lighting and shooting conditions are best summed up by the band's notes to the venue, which I spied earlier in the night.  "Likes: strongly lit from behind, strong, deep colours, strobes (very important), smoke (not haze: haze is "smoke" for corporate gigs).  Dislikes: too much front light and white light."  The Horrors, ironically, make for a photographer's nightmare, particularly to try capture Faris' presence on stage but I'd like to think the mood of the band is captured in the photos regardless.  They played a good set of songs touching on all albums, bar Strange House, and left the crowd eager to see them return again and get deafened further.

Kate Nash: The Academy by Aaron Corr

When I completed my shoot of Brian Wilson’s show in Bord Gais Theatre I realised it was still very early and was thinking that I could have easily have shot the Kate Nash gig that same night, but usually there is no way of planning this and it working.  The Academy is on one of my routes home so I strolled past it at 8:45 and saw crowds of fans outside having a cigarette.  I chanced my arm and walked up to the MCD person working at the front door and asked if there was any spare passes to shoot.  As it turns out MCD’s snapper opted out of the shoot and now I had the pass to shoot my second show of the night.

I wasn’t long waiting before Kate Nash’s band took to the stage to play their intro before she took to the stage.  The set up on stage was busy with flowers, trees, streamers and clouds, the lights were heavy on purples, greens and blues and Kate was ready to reacquaint everyone with her debut album.  She stalked the stage left to right after teasing a verse & chorus of her biggest hit, Foundations.

This was the first show of the tour and the band were in fine form, with plenty of hair flicking and rock poses.  Kate, fresh from her success in starring in Netflix's GLOW, was bouncing around and by the last song of the shoot was down to the front row of the crowd to scream the words to Dickhead into the eager fans faces.

The usual Academy issues still applied, mainly being the harsh colours and the annoying efforts it takes to try fix them in Lightroom but I was happy to get shooting the show regardless.  Especially given the contrast to the fixed and distant position given to me in Bord Gais for the previous shoot.  

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.