Blossoms, Barfly Camden 26th March

Now here’s a band to get excited about!  I’ve had Blossoms‘ “Cut Me and I’ll Bleed” as a constant earworm for the past month or so (which isn’t a bad thing), so in the hope of potentially expunging it from my noggin I went to see them at Camden Barfly last week.

We bought tickets a while ago and weren’t surprised to see that it had sold out a week or so beforehand.  Plenty of kids attempting to buy tickets on the door were disappointed (*smug face*), even though it wasn’t uncomfortably packed when we got up there.  We missed the support band (sorry guys!) but there was only one band who we wanted to see that night.

I bought along my Canon 7D and my trusty (small and light) 50mm 1.8 in the hope of snapping a few pictures, which I managed to do quite easily.  Love it in the Barfly, they always have decent lighting and it’s so small you can’t NOT get a decent photo.  I need longer arms however; Blossoms have some tall fans…

Great gig – they have the tunes, the stage presence and the look, even managing to keep the crowd entertained after a technical issue with a drum pedal.  Tom seems like a proper lovely Northerner (managed to meet him after the gig) and the whole band are total pros, considering they’re so young.

A few pictures of their set below.  Highly recommend you get along and see them before they start selling out bigger venues!

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Welcome Pariah, The Winchester (photoshoot + live), Bournemouth 7 March 2015

Well I had a great time down south a couple weeks ago!  I headed down for the Bournemouth leg of March of the Mods, curated by the eternally awesome Cool Britannia crew.  Loads of bands (I mean loads – 7 in total), loads of excellent DJs and loads of dancing.  Oh, and a few photos.

Luckily enough the lovely Welcome Pariah lads were on the bill so we decided to meet up and take a few band shots around the back streets of Bournemouth.  It was fairly gloomy outside so we made the best of what we had and got on with the shoot in a few different locations, before heading back to The Winchester for another drink and to watch their set.  And to take live shots!

Great night had by all as far as I could tell (remember?!).  We were still there in the wee hours dancing ourselves silly in the back room to whichever tunes Cool Britannia were lining up.  Must have been a good workout as the next day my abs/sides/calf muscles were the sorest they have ever been… Who needs the gym?!

Some photos of the day below, enjoy.

The Shtooks, The Enterprise Camden, 20 February 2015

Just a quick one as I forgot to post these photos previously!  One of my lovely friends Claire suggested we go along to see The Shtooks at The Enterprise the other week, so we went along for a few drinks and a dance.  I bought my camera with me, only kitted out with the 50mm 1.8 as I didn’t want to lug everything around, and took a few photos.

Difficult to use the 50mm in such a small room but managed to snap a few close ups and was happy with how they turned out.  Black and white though – pesky red lighting strikes again!  My friend Claire makes a cameo in one of the pictures…

Always fun to see new bands and have a dance in Camden on a Friday night.  Great band too – they clearly have a fair few fans judging by the amount of people singing along to their tunes in the tiny upstairs room.

Enjoy!

Baby Strange, Dolomite Minor, Hyena at Elecrowerkz 5 February 2015

Not my first gig of 2015 (Viet Cong had that honour – just didn’t take any photos while I was there, it didn’t feel right!), but this was the first one that I whipped the camera out for a few shots.  All three bands were brilliant, and would definitely see them all again.  Shame about the teenagers in the crowd pretending they were drunk and falling all over people (was it a 16+ gig or a 12+ gig?! Yeah, not so sure…) but you couldn’t fault the bands.

Funnily enough, Slaves were there to watch the bands so I took a sneaky undercover snap of them… playing foosball 🙂

Slaves

 

Another NME gig coming up this week with Palma Violets, Fat White Family, Slaves and freshly announced The Wytches (YES) to replace The Amazing Snakeheads who have had to pull out.  No photos this time, just plenty of drinking!

2014 – The best of the best

Another year has nearly come to a close so it’s high time I got sorted and posted my ‘best of the year’ lists.  This list is MUCH easier to do with the help of Last.fm – if you don’t have an account then I suggest you get one!  I’m a big fan of stats and music, so I’m on there regularly checking which bands I’ve been listening to more than others.  The ‘top artists/top tracks’ isn’t exactly a true reflection of what I like the most, but it’s a pretty good guide.

So without further ado, here’s the listicles.

TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2014

  1. The Courteeners – Concrete Love.  I was never a big fan of these guys until photographing them at Shepherd’s Bush last year.  Found it hard to not listen to this album at least twice a week since it was released.
  2. The Heartbreaks – We May Yet Stand a Chance.  Another corker from these guys, just missing out on the top spot (it was a REALLY tough choice).
  3. Interpol – El Pintor.  Did not expect Interpol to be in my top anything this year!  They’re back and as good as they’ve ever been (as good as their early stuff anyway).
  4. The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader.  Finally got to listen to an album from these guys after banging on about them all through 2013.  Did not disappoint.
  5. DZ Deathrays – Black Rat.  These guys make me proud to be an Aussie 🙂
  6. Royal Blood – Royal Blood
  7. Eagulls – Eagulls
  8. Johnny Marr – Playland
  9. The Orwells – Disgraceland
  10. Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business
  11. The Family Rain – Under the Volcano
  12. Maximo Park – Too Much Information
  13. The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads
  14. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
  15. Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit
  16. Wampire – Bazaar
  17. Bass Drum of Death – Rip This
  18. Liars – Mess
  19. Howler – World of Joy
  20. White Lung – Deep Fantasy
  21. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
  22. Temples – Sun Restructured
  23. Hookworms – The Hum
  24. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love

Honorable mentions: Meatbodies – Meatbodies and Cheatahs – Cheatahs

TOP 25 TRACKS OF 2014

  1. Absolved – The Heartbreaks.  An easy number one this year.  Incomparable.  These guys know how to write a pop song.  If they had a bit more exposure it could have been a Christmas number one!
  2. Leave This Island – Maximo Park.  Another band from the 00’s coming back this year with some brilliant stuff.  This track will always remind me of my birthday in Edinburgh at the start of the year.  Lovely stuff.
  3. How Good It Was – Courteeners.  Summer in one song.  Hard not to sing along to.
  4. Continental Shelf – Viet Cong.  This is why you don’t do your end of year lists until at least mid-December.  Only heard this track about three weeks ago and it’s been an earworm ever since.  Formed from the ashes of Calgary band ‘Women’ (who were also brilliant), no doubt their album is going to be in my top 10 next year.
  5. Easy Money – Johnny Marr.  Is this not the most catchy song you have ever heard in your life?!  Pretty much.
  6. Anywhere – Interpol
  7. Reflective Skull – DZ Deathrays
  8. Where’s Your Car Debbie – Slaves
  9. Come on Over – Royal Blood
  10. So Now You Know – The Horrors
  11. Mess on a Mission – Liars
  12. XXX – The Bohicas
  13. Money – Life
  14. Tied up in Nottz – Sleaford Mods
  15. Trainwreck 1979 – Death from Above 1979
  16. So Oh – The Charlatans
  17. Here it Comes Again – Amazing Snakeheads
  18. Nerve Endings – Eagulls
  19. Dirty Sheets – The Orwells
  20. Let’s go to War – Manic Street Preachers
  21. Istanbul – Morrissey
  22. Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic – Slug
  23. Bad Attitude – Wapire
  24. Lawman – Girl Band

Honorable mentions: Wanderlust – Wild Beasts and Drown the Monster – White Lung

TOP GIGS OF 2014

  1. The Orwells – The Fleece, Bristol.  Expect little and be surprised.  Could not believe how good these guys were live, pushed it as far as they were physically able.  Super entertaining.
  2. The Heartbreaks – The Lexington, London.  Hard not to enjoy a gig by these guys these days.  They have such lovely fans as well – learning the dance moves to the ‘Absolved’ video clip, much to the delight of the band.
  3. Eagulls – Electrowerkz, London
  4. Amazing Snakeheads – Electric Ballroom, London
  5. The Courteeners – Brixton Academy, London
  6. The Cribs – East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
  7. Her Parents – The Monarch, London
  8. Menswear – Queen of Hoxton, London
  9. Manic Street Preachers – Huxley’s Neue Welt, Berlin
  10. Twilight Sad – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London

FAVOURITE PHOTOS OF 2014

This blog wouldn’t be complete without a list of my favourite photos that I had taken at gigs in 2014.  Still pinch myself that I’m lucky enough to get in the pit at gigs these days.  Long may it continue!

Enjoy your holidays if you have any, and I’ll see you in the New Year!

Jx

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Bass Drum of Death/Crows/Yak, The Shacklewell Arms 13 November 2014

Once again The Shacklewell rolls out three incredible bands in one night – how do they manage to get it right so often?!  (I suspect Bad Vibrations had a big part in all of this…)

My main purpose of heading to the gig was to see Bass Drum of Death but decided to head there early to catch Yak.  Knew nothing about them until they started playing, and I still don’t know anything about them apart from the fact that they are remarkable live.  Definitely seeing them again at some stage.

Seeing as Yak were so fantastic, odds on the next band, Crows, would have to be crap, SURELY. Nope, another remarkable band and another remarkable performance.

And then there was Bass Drum of Death.  By that stage the crowd was packed in like sardines and the mosh pit was like a whirlpool, sucking everyone in.  Almost lost my balance up the front a few times but couldn’t stop laughing because everyone was just having way too much fun.  Not the best shots of these guys due to no flash/being jostled constantly, but I gave it a red hot go.

Managed to not break the camera and the 24-70 survived to tell the tale… just.  Black and white shots again because red lighting is just NO FUN when you’re trying to take photos without a flash.

If you can, check out ALL the bands in this post, live.  It’ll be worth your while!

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The Heartbreaks, The Lexington 5th November 2014

The pointy end of the year is almost upon us, which means that, as always, there are a shedload of gigs occurring in November. I didn’t get around to buying The Heartbreaks tickets when they were released as there were so many other gigs going on around the same time, and I’d pretty much seen these guys every time they had toured London.  After much thought on the morning of the gig I decided that I would most surely regret it if I didn’t go along, so tickets were bought and I started to get really, really excited.

Of course after the gig I thought that, had I known how brilliant they were going to be, I WOULD have regretted not going.  The Lexington didn’t feel packed to the rafters up the front, but that’s probably because of your standard ‘Lexington bottleneck’ at the stairs, whereby everyone is too English and too polite to move further into the crowd and therefore stand awkwardly in front of the bar, getting in the way.  We were right up the front so no problems with dancing like a maniac, and everyone was just lovely – singing, laughing, dancing and having a great time.

Call of the night came from a guy standing behind us who shouted “Lovely ol’ job!”.  It was indeed.  The crowd down the front managed to pull out some choreographed dancing during Absolved, and some people were having SUCH a good time that Matthew had to comment on it at one stage – females screaming and all sorts!

I know I say this every time, but it’s shocking that these guys aren’t more well known in the UK.  They have released one of the best albums of 2014 (if not THE best), and I still spin their debut album every few weeks.  They’re all so bloody lovely as well, no airs and graces, humble and very witty.  If I could recommend any band from this year (or the last three years even) that you should listen to right now it’s these guys.  Do yourself a favour 🙂

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The Phoenix

Thought I’d write a quick update on what’s been occurring in my photography world recently.  It’s been a pretty quiet summer as far as gig photography goes, plus I’ve been studying outside of working full time, and doing a bit of travelling, so I’ve not had time to get up to much gig going in any case!

I was recently asked by the lovely people at The Phoenix in Cavendish Square to take some photographs of their refurbished downstairs area to share on their website/social media.  They now have an amazing mural on the wall that extends from street level to the bottom of the stairs which is a fantastic addition, and the fixtures and new art pieces on the walls are just perfect.  The place looks almost unrecognisable to what it was – get down there and have a butcher’s if you can, as it’s ace!

I got the chance to use my new lens that night as well – the Sigma 15mm 2.8.  She is LOVELY.  Great for getting absolutely everything in shot, which came in really handy for inside The Phoenix.  Will be using it again for club night photos as well, provided it doesn’t stretch people’s faces out too much 🙂

I’ve also taken live shots of some bands that were playing there a couple of weeks ago.  It was a last minute thing but really enjoyable.  The bands were all great and the celeb spotting in the crowd was much fun!  Penguins Rising were fantastic (Zac Starkey’s ‘new band’ – although singer Sharna Liguz completely stole the limelight), and The Valves are definitely a band that I’ll be going to see again.  Great line up and a really enjoyable night.

Have even MORE travelling to do in November which may or may not involve taking photos of bands.  Cambridge for Royal Blood, Nottingham for Kasabian and The Orwells in Bristol.  Oh, and Courteeners at Brixton Academy, but that travelling only involves one train stop from home.

Lots of other local gigs coming up as well so stay tuned!

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Menswe@r at Queen of Hoxton, 9 August 2014

Just between you and I, I was a big fan of Menswe@r in the 90s.  They were easily in the top 5 of my most favourite Britpop bands ever (because everyone loves a list) and I religiously collected their (very snazzily designed) CD singles on import in Australia when I was a teenager.  I never understood the flack they got back then, and I was always proud to say I was a fan.

I guess people say it’s a nostalgia thing going to see your most loved bands from when you were a teenager and to some extent it is.  When the band you’re seeing has been revived with a new line up and fresh energy, it’s all about going to see a bloody brilliant gig.

The only thing that marred the night was a few ‘lads! bantz! pints!’ guys in the crowd who at their age should really know better, but fortunately that didn’t take away much from the overall experience.  Johnny Dean and the new Menswe@r line up clearly love playing together as they put on a fantastic show and seemed to really enjoy themselves.

My only regret is not bringing a zoom lens with me (for fear of it being confiscated by security!) and having to make do with my 50mm 1.8, which I hid in the arm of my jacket on the way in (don’t try this at home kids).  The shots were all quite close as a result… live and learn!

If you were a fan of Menswe@r in the 90s, or even if you weren’t, I can highly recommend you go check them out if you can.  If you don’t get a chance though, here’s some pics so you can pretend you were there.  Enjoy!

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Teleman, Islington Assembly Hall, 20 May 2014

My first time shooting at Islington Assembly Hall last week, and in fact the first time I’d actually been there for a gig.  Gorgeous venue, and one I hope to go back to at some stage.  They’ve been putting on some great acts recently so I’m sure I’ll be back there before too long.

Teleman were great, very chilled.  For some reason I was disappointed with the shots I took after I left the venue, but when I processed them they seemed to turn out alright.  I’ve been playing around in Lightroom a bit more recently and have come across much easier ways to remove red lighting from pictures where the end result does’t make the artists look sallow skinned and ghost-like!  I had to apply this to some of the Teleman photos and I’m pretty pleased with the results, compared to the originals.

The pics on Shout 4 Music are here, or check them out below.  Enjoy!

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COOKING ON A BOOTSTRAP

by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'

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