the workmans club

The Best Gigs Of 2018 by Aaron Corr

2018 saw some amazing gigs come this way. My absolute best gigs of the year, one, two or three of which are up there in the list of best I’ve ever experienced, I was in attendance but not shooting. So to begin things I’m going to take a look at the best gigs this year that I photographed. Not to be mistaken for the best shows to shoot, these are the best gigs I saw, heard and experienced in all their glory.

Part 1: Best gigs I shot.

Wild Beasts: The Olympia

The band announced their impending split toward the end of 2017, bowing out with three final shows in the new year, one of which was a final Irish show on February 15th in the Olympia Theatre. It was their second last show ever and it was everything you would want from a Wild Beasts gig. They played a selection from all their albums split out over two sets. If you were at a festival and they played either of these sets it would have been brilliant, never mind getting both fully rounded out, and well conceived set lists in one night. There was no support, the whole night was devoted to them and saying goodbye. It sent shivers up my spine at times, and the crowd sang along and reacted like I’d never seen before at one of their shows. They truly ended on a high.

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Paul Draper: Workmans Club

I have to add this to the best of 2018 list, if not for it being great to finally see Paul Draper return to playing gigs, because Mansun’s epic Attack of the Grey Lantern was played in full to mark it’s anniversary. This was an album I came to late in it’s own promotional cycle. I got in to Mansun on time before they ultimately came back with Six, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. Like Wild Beasts, Paul’s gig was comprised of two sets; the first being his solo material (which the crowd lapped up) and then Grey Lantern. It was an incredibly packed and sweaty gig. Paul could let the fans sing as much of the album as needed. It was a fun show. Here’s to when he comes back to pay Six in full.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs: 3Arena

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are not a band that swing by Ireland very often. I missed them back around 2002 when they played in the High Stool in Limerick. They seemed happy to just play a festival here every once in a blue moon, and the only times I’ve caught them were at Electric Picnic in 2006 and Longitude in 2013. On this night they were more a co-headliner with Beck than mere support. They were touring the anniversary of debut album Fever to Tell, but this was not just a nostalgia show or a run through the album from start to finish. Karen stalked the stage, singing and screaming to songs from all through their career. They played for a good 1hr 15mins, and given Beck’s delays to get onstage, they may have just pipped him to the post with a longer set. While I enjoyed Beck’s set, the first half was flawless while the second half lagged. That’s why I’m highlighting this as Yeah Yeah Yeah’s show to steal.

Click here for full gallery, and here for The Thin Air’s review.

Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever: Whelans

I am still getting used to saying their name right. Even as I typed the header I got it all mixed up. The Aussie’s brought the heat with them on this night as they gave Whelans a very hot and sweaty August gig. They have just been announced to support Idles in Iveagh Gardens in 2019, turning an already great gig into something extra special. There’s not much else I can add to the review below so just take my word and get an Idles ticket if you haven’t already.

Click here for full gallery and here for The Thin Air’s review..

Julien Baker: Vicar Street

This gig took me by surprise. I was a last minute addition to the list to shoot this show, and I can’t say I’d ever heard a track of Julien’s before that night. Her set was extraordinary, her voice is incredible and the guitar sounds were gorgeous. The gig made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up many a time.

Click here for full gallery, and here for GoldenPlec’s review.

David Byrne: 3Arena

One of my biggest gig regrets was leaving the front of the Electric Arena when David Byrne & St Vincent were to take to the stage, to go to the Main Stage to see another band I loved play an alright set. Everything I heard about the show I missed was that it was an “I was there” moment, and I missed it. Finally getting to see him playing a host of classic Talking Head songs and solo material, while putting on an amazing visual performance on stage in the 3Arena made up for it. The atmosphere with the crowd was one of pure joy, with everyone out of their seats and dancing for the majority of the show. Seeing Slippery People, Naive Melody and Road to Nowhere live will stay with me for a very long time. If he brings the show to a Broadway residency I’ll be booking my tickets first thing.

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Interpol: Olympia Theatre

For the first time ever I went to see a full three night residency of a band in the Olympia. This wasn’t entirely planned on my part, but it’s the way it worked out and I’m all the more delighted for it. Over the three nights they relied on the same foundation of a set list but changed up a lot of tracks on each show. Over three nights they played all but Obstacle 2 from Turn on the Bright Lights.

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Part 2: Best gigs I didn’t shoot.

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Arcade Fire: 3Arena

Seeing Arcade Fire “in the round” was an experience. It brought you closer to the band, the band rotating around the stage so you got different vantage points from the one spot, and the light show topped it off. The set was brilliant, and thankfully didn’t throw in any of the weaker tracks from Everything Now. The show was designed to bring the band and audience together and they succeed completely.

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Kilmainham

This show goes down as one of the all time best I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Nick Cave at festivals a few times over the year, and he is truly one of the best, and most passionate performers you’ll ever see. I wondered how he would bring the intimacy of his smaller Skeleton Tree shows to a large outdoor show but he effortlessly pulled it off. Emotions ran high in the crowd during songs like Into My Arms and Distant Sky, and many tears were shed. He still brought the darker songs out for a run through, as well as bringing many fans to the stage during the murderous Stagger Lee. The gig was epic and unforgettable. Not only is this my gig of the year, I think it has safely secured a place in my top five shows of all time.

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The Killers with Franz Ferdinand: RDS

I love a good double header of a gig, especially if it happens to be outdoors and the sun is shining bright. Franz Ferdinand opened the evening for The Killers, and played a shorter version of their Olympia set from earlier in the year. The Killers came on and played a killer set (pardon the pun) and kept the crowd in great form, singing along to all their hits. Brandon channeled an Elvis look in the encore, coming out in a gold suit to finish the night in Las Vegas style.

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Idles: Button Factory

This show goes head to head with David Byrne to battle for my second place for gig of the year. I was happy to not shoot it and just take it all in, especially since it turned out to be dark lighting conditions, and full of strobes for the most part for shooting, and you could barely move an inch with all the jumping and moshing in the crowd. I ended up on stage at one point, jumping around with a bunch of other fans while the band played and in the crowd at the same time. They have provided the album of the year and their show does everything in it’s power to try win it’s place as gig of the year. They’ve got two Dublin shows already in line for 2019, both of which I will be there yelling Danny Nedelko at the top of my lungs.

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. 

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.

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.