Ben McKelvey and Scouting for Girls at The Great Hall, Exeter - 13/11/2017

I'm Back!

Yes, it's been a while since I posted here on The Unplugged Blog.  I've been working on a number of exciting photography projects but I'm pleased to be back on the blog.  I'm even more pleased that I'll be sharing images featuring Ben McKelvey and Scouting for Girls.

So let's great straight into it and let's take a look at those images.

Ben McKelvey

Scouting for Girls

So there you have it.  It was a cracking gig.  I'd never seen The Great Hall so busy so early on and Ben did an amazing job getting the crowd going with his set.

Just a brief blog from me but hopefully you've enjoyed the photos.  Remember that MusicMuso will be posting up a review of the gig really soon.

Bye for now!

 

 

Geezer and Stubb at Exeter Phoenix - 27/06/2017

It's been a few weeks since I last posted on the blog but I'm just back from shooting Geezer and Stubb down at the Exeter Phoenix and I just had to share some images with you. 

I can go on and on about how good they both were and how the guitar and drum work was amazing but you should wait for the MusicMuso review for that. Instead I'm going to share with you some of the images from both bands.  Enjoy!

Stubb

Geezer

A bit of a short blog post for you, but I hope you enjoyed all the images. I'll be back again soon on the The Unplugged Blog with more quality live music photos!

Record Store Day at Phoenix Sound - 22/04/2017

I've covered Record Store Day with MusicMuso a few times now and it's now rapidly turning into one of my favourite events to cover each year. I spend a lot of time in the pit shooting various musicians and bands but I don't really get a chance to connect with people. I might just manage a short chat over the roar of the music but you can't really hold a conversation.

So I was very excited about joining Steve from MusicMuso to cover Record Store Day this year at Phoenix Sound in Newton Abbot.  However, my excitement seemed to diminish a little when the alarm went off at 6 am. It's not that I'm not used to getting up early but I had a late finish yesterday after shooting coastal landscapes in Cornwall. Anyway, it was nothing a strong cup of black coffee wouldn't fix!

I don't know Newton Abbot that well so I wasn't sure where exactly Phoenix Sound was but as I turned the corner at Queen Street and saw the extensive queue I knew I had the right place. Time to get to work!

Over the next couple of hours, I took pictures of the shop, the vinyl on sale and those eager vinyl fans. There is no doubt that some of those shoppers, who started queuing at 3:30 am, are a passionate and fun bunch. Despite most of them probably having even less sleep than me they were more than willing to discuss their purchases and their passion for vinyl.   It was just good to engage with and photograph so many dedicated music fans.

Anyway, expect a full write-up of our trip to Record Store Day at Phoenix Sound in Newton Abbot over on MusicMuso really soon, but in the meantime here are some of the shots that I took...See you next time on The Unplugged Blog.

 

 

Ferocious Dog and Sam Green & The Midnight Heist at Exeter Phoenix - 14/04/2017

What's not to love about a Friday night?  For most people, it's the end of the working week and chance to unwind.  If you were lucky enough to be at the Exeter Phoenix last Friday night your evening would have been made even better with some live music courtesy of Sam Green & The Midnight Heist and Ferocious Dog

On paper, this was destined to be a great night of music so when my friends over at MusicMuso asked me to photograph the gig there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to cover this one.  Having photographed Ferocious Dog previously I was confident that the huge levels of energy that these guys deliver on stage will make for a great night of photography.  So I passed on my Friday night glass of wine, grabbed my camera and headed eagerly off to the Exeter Phoenix.

MusicMuso will be posting up a full review of the gig shortly, so as usual here on The Unplugged Blog, I'm going show you some of my best images from this awesome gig.

Sam Green & The Midnight Heist

Ferocious Dog

Shooting Challenges

Photographing live music is rarely without its challenges and Friday night was no different.  For those of you who have had the pleasure of seeing Ferocious Dog before will know that their gigs can be a little "lively".  The band have some quality fans who love nothing better than to have a good mosh and jump about.  It's great to witness and really adds to the atmosphere of the gig.

My challenge for this gig was finding a good spot to shoot from.  Normally there would be a pit so I could freely move up and down the length of the stage, but in this instance, I wasn't going to have that luxury.  So, to get the photos I was going to have to get in there with the crowd.  I would need to pick my spot carefully though.  Too far off to the side the photos would be dull, but to close to the middle and it would be unlikely that I would be able to keep still enough against the surging crowd to take pictures.

Fortunately, I did manage to find a spot that would allow me to capture some good images.  I wasn't able to move sideways so I could adjust my composition, and I did get wet from some flying booze, but I did seem to pick just the right location as I was able to use the camera without getting jostled too much.  Obviously I would have liked a pit area, but some of the fun of live music photography is working through the challenges! 

So that's it for me this week.  In my next blog post I will be covering Record Store Day, so be sure visit The Unplugged Blog again to see the images from this cracking national event.  If you want to know exactly when that blog post goes up be sure to follow me on my Facebook page, Instagram feed, and Twitter feed.

You Me at Six, Tonight Alive and Black Foxxes at Plymouth Pavilions - 05/04/2017

With the promise of three energetic rock bands taking to the stage, there was a tangible sense of excitement as we drove the A38 towards the Plymouth Pavilions.  Joining me on the short journey to Plymouth was my journalistic pal from MusicMuso, Steve. Not only were we excited by the prospect of a good night of music, but we were very pleased to see that local band Black Foxxes would be supporting.  We've covered the Black Foxxes a few times and we knew how good they are to see and to photograph. 

Steve will, of course, be writing up a full review of the gig over on MusicMuso really soon but in the meantime here are some of my photos from the night.

Black Foxxes

Well, I hope you enjoyed those images.  Remember you can follow me on all the normal social channels.  Just check out the social buttons at the bottom of this page.  I'll see you next on The Unplugged Blog.   

 

 

Mad Dog Mcrea, Noble Jacks and Biere De Luxe at Exeter Phoenix - 11/03/2017

After my excursion to Plymouth earlier in the week to cover Elbow, the weekend saw me returning to one of my local venues, the Exeter Pheonix, to cover the Mad Dog Mcrea gig.

With three bands on and a packed crowd enjoying a Saturday night out it was sure to be another great night at the Exeter Pheonix.  However, I'm not going to wax lyrical about the gig, I'll leave that to my friends over at MusicMuso who will be posting up a review really soon.  Instead, I'm going to focus on the images I took so let's great straight into them!

Biere De Luxe

Up first on the night were Biere De Luxe.

Noble Jacks

Cranking it up a notch or two were Noble Jacks.

Mad Dog Mcrea

And putting on a quality show, as usual, were Mad Dog Mcrea.

Another quick blog post from me but I hope you enjoyed the images.  Hopefully, it won't be long until the next one, but until then remember to click on those social buttons at the bottom of the page to follow me across the web!

Elbow and C Duncan at Plymouth Pavilions - 09/03/2017

I always like shooting at the Plymouth Pavilions.  The venue hosts some big name artists and bands, the lighting is generally good, and the large capacity means that there is always a good atmosphere.  So when I got a short notice call from MusicMuso to cover Elbow on Thursday night I was more than happy to jump in the car and head along the A38 towards Plymouth.

 

As always my friends over at MusicMuso will be posting up a full gig review shortly, but in the meantime, as I always do, here is a selection of the images I took on the night.

C Duncan

Supporting Elbow for their spring 2017 was C Duncan.

Elbow

Elbow put on a quality performance to the packed and eager crowd of the Plymouth Pavilions.

Well just a quick post from me today, but I'll be back really soon on The Unplugged Blog with another set of live images!  In the meantime remember to click on those social buttons to connect with me so you can see images as I post them live from the gig!

Kate Nash and Gothic Tropic at Exeter Phoenix - 16/02/2017

After a short break from concert photography, I was back at the Exeter Phoenix with my friends from MusicMuso to shoot Kate Nash.  She was sure to put on a good show so I was excited to be covering the gig, but nothing prepared me for the energy of her set!  It was one of those gigs where it is just a pleasure to shoot.  Her experience and talent shone through as she blasted out her songs and worked up the crowd.  Both Kate and her band gave me plenty to work with! 

If you want to read a full review of the gig my friends over at MusicMuso will be posting one up on their website really soon, so make sure you check it out when it goes live.  It was an action packed gig and they will have plenty to write about!

Here on The Unplugged Blog though, I'm going to show you some of my favourite images from the night.

Gothic Tropic

As with most great gigs, there is also a great support band.  Gothic Tropic did not disappoint and they delivered a quality set.

Kate Nash

Normally I would post two or three images from a band, but I was spoilt for choice with Kate Nash, so I'm just going to post all of my favourites!

So there you have it.  That was probably one of the best gigs I've shot at the Exeter Phoenix.  Experienced and energetic artists make my job so much easier and it was a real pleasure to shoot.

So if you liked those images and want to see more be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and of course here on The Unplugged Blog.  Till next time....!

My 10 Favourite Images of 2016

It's that time of year again when I share with you my favourite 10 images of 2016. These are my personal favourites. Images that I love because they have emotion or capture a special moment. 

Looking back at my images for 2016 I soon realised I had a lot of great images to pick from. This is always a good position to be in!

So Let's get straight into it and let me show you my 10 favourites.

As you can see It was a bumper year for me.   I got the chance to photograph some of the biggest artists on the planet as well as some of the most interesting new bands out there. If 2016 is anything to go by I can't wait for 2017. 

Want more?  Why not check out My 5 Favourite Bands of 2016 or look at My Top 10 Images from 2015 and My Top 5 Bands of 2015

My 5 Favourite Bands of 2016

Every year I get to photograph lots of bands and artists covering all sorts of music genres.  My primary focus at those gigs is to get great photographs but when the 3 song limit has been reached I normally get to watch the rest of set.

So in this blog post I'm going to tell you about the 5 bands that had the biggest impact on me in 2016.  These are the bands that I personally enjoyed.  In most cases I knew of the band but it wasn't until I saw them live that they really captured my attention.  That's the power of live music for you!

It was a real year of musical discovery for me.  I'd never really considered Mumford & Sons and Years & Years before but their shows at The Radio 1 Big Weekend in Exeter blew me away.  I guess sometimes you have to see a band live to appreciate them.  Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer was one of those acts that just make you smile and enjoy yourself.  Tiny Folds are one of the best local (Teignmouth) bands about.  They are epic live!  Last but not least is Chvrches.  With wonderful vocals and a great electronic sound they are never too far down my playlist.

So there you have it.  2016 was a great year for music.  Do you want more though?  Why not check out My 10 Favourite Images of 2016 or look at My Top 10 Images from 2015 and My Top 5 Bands of 2015

Glenn Tilbrook with Steve Smith at Exeter Phoenix - 26/12/2016

For what is probably my last gig of 2016 I ventured out in amongst the Christmas party goers of Exeter to see Glenn Tilbrook.  The man from Squeeze was playing to a festive filled Exeter Phoenix. As always I'll let my friends over at MusicMuso do a full review of the gig and I'll concentrate on sharing some of images with you.

Steve Smith

Up first on the stage was Steve Smith.

Glen Tillbrook

So just a short post from me this time. I'll be spending some time writing a couple of year end blog posts over the next couple of weeks. I'll be doing my top 10 images of 2016 and my top 5 bands of 2016. I've already had a quick look at my catalogue of images for 2016 and I think I'm going to be spoilt for choice this year.

So stunned to Instagram, Twitter and of course The Unplugged Blog for those year end posts. Hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

Gangstagrass with Rodney Branigan at Exeter Phoenix - 24/11/16

With winter nearly upon us and the dark nights getting longer we all need something to put us in good spirits.  And that's exactly what I found when I turned up to the Exeter Phoenix last Thursday night.  Meeting up with my old buddy from MusicMuso we were expecting a warming and uplifting night of music from Gangstagrass and Rodney Branigan.  They did not disappoint and MusicMuso had plenty to write about and I had plenty to shoot.  

As usual check out MusicMuso for a full review, but in the meantime here are some of the images I took.

Rodney Branigan

Gangstagrass

It was yet another great night of music at Exeter Phoenix and it was great to photograph artists who are doing something a little different.  I don't think I've ever photographed someone playing two guitars at the same time!

I'll be back again soon on The Unplugged Blog with another set of hot images straight from my editing desk.  See you then!

Deacon Blue at the Plymouth Pavilions - 19/11/2016

With Storm Angus dumping huge amounts of the wet stuff on the land, any sensible person would have avoided driving to Plymouth last Saturday night.  However after having so much fun shooting Wet Wet Wet earlier in the year there was no way that I was going to miss the opportunity to shoot another legendary Scottish band.  So with windscreen wipers set to blurry I headed off to Plymouth Pavilions to shoot Deacon Blue.

Deacon Blue

The stormy conditions outside did nothing to deter the crowds though and they flooded in (excuse the pun) through the doors to what would be a great gig.  My friends over at MusicMuso will be posting a full review up soon but in the meantime here are some of the images I took.

It was a challenging shoot due to the low light for the first few songs but if you know your camera there were still plenty of shots to be had.  It was certainly worth the journey but I really needed a boat and not a car to get home the roads were so flooded!

I've got a few more gigs to shoot before the end of 2016 so be sure to keep an eye on The Unplugged Blog for even more photos.  See you next time!

 

Black Foxxes with Big Spring and Magpies at Exeter Phoenix - 29/10/2016

I've been lucky enough to shoot local rock heroes Black Foxxes a couple of times now including their epic set at the Radio One Big Weekend earlier this year.  Aside from the fact that they are a kick ass band they are fantastic to photograph.  The sheer energy they put into their performances makes my job so much easier.  My only complaint is having too many pictures to pick from!

So when my friends over at MusicMuso asked me if I could cover their sell out gig at the Exeter Phoenix there was no way I was going to miss it.  It was sure to be a awesome night of music with some quality support bands.  

Here are some of the photos I took...

Magpies

First up on the stage were 4 piece rock band Magpies.

Magpies

Magpies

Big Spring

Turning it up a notch were Big Spring...

Black Foxxes

As I expected the mighty Black Foxxes did not disappoint as not only did they play a great set but they also gave me plenty of great shots.

There you have it.  I hope from the images you get an idea of what a great night of music it was.  If you are looking for a full review of the gig my friends over at MusicMuso will be posting one up soon.

On a technical note....

You may have noticed that all of my images on this blog post were black and white.  Ask any gig photographer how they will process their images when there is very poor light (in photographic terms) and they will tell you they will go black and white.  The gig was actually upstairs in the Voodoo Lounge at the Exeter Phoenix.  It's a fantastic room and it really allows the crowd to get up close and personal with the bands.  However, it's a really challenging environment for photography as there is very little in the way of lighting.

With flash photography generally being frowned up I really had to push the limits of my Nikon D750.  At a minimum I had the camera set at ISO 6400 but often pushed it to ISO 12800.  This was in addition to the camera being set at f/2.8 and 1/125 sec.  With the ISO so high the images had a lot of noise, and to combat that and the prominent pale blue lighting, I opted to process the images as punchy black and whites.  Despite those technical challenges, I like the results.

See you next time!!!

 

Feeder with Reigning Days at The Lemon Grove - 21/10/2016

I had a busy summer this year with a few big festivals to cover, but after a short break I was back at The Lemon Grove in Exeter to cover the Feeder gig.  I have fond memories of Feeder as they were one of my favoured artists when I was road tripping around europe.  I clearly remember driving the French alps in my BMW convertible listening to Feeder on CD.  Just the wind in my hair, lovely weather, and Feeder blasting out as tore around the hairpins.

I no longer have the car (I have a family now instead), but when my friends over at MusicMuso asked me to shoot the gig I didn't hesitate for a minute.

Reigning Days

First up were local band Reigning Days who have been supporting Feeder across the country on this tour.  It was a bit of a homecoming gig for them and they certainly delivered.  I went back stage with MusicMuso to take some images for an interview so remember to check out MusicMuso's website for that one.  Should be good.  

Here they are on stage:

Reigning Days

Reigning Days

Reigning Days

Reigning Days

Reigning Days

Reigning Days

Reigning Days

Reigning Days

Feeder

Reigning Days did an awesome job of warming up the crowd so when Feeder took to the stage the crowd were well up it.  I'll leave the band review to my friends over at MusicMuso and instead I'll give you some cracking pictures to look at instead.

Next time...

Feeder was an epic gig and both bands were a joy to shoot.  I'll be back next week in my old stomping ground of the Exeter Phoenix to shoot Black Foxxes which should be an awesome one.  Stay tuned to my Twitter and Instagram feeds to images live from the gig.  I'll back here in the blog with all the photos from that gig sometime next week.  Till then...

Glas-Denbury Festival - 15th and 16th July 2016

When I shot Glas-Denbury last year it was one of my photographic highlights of 2015.  A great line up, awesome crowd and fantastic weather.  Well, I'm pleased to say that Glas-Denbury 2016 had all those elements and then some!

As usual my blog post is going to focus on the images I took but if you are looking for a full review my good friends over at MusicMuso will be posting one up really soon so keep an eye out for that.

So, let's get straight into those images...

Friday

Saturday

The People

 

So there you have it.  What a festival!  Shooting festivals is always challenging as you are constantly going to from stage to stage, but with that comes variety and excitement.  So yes it's hard work but I've ended up with a great set of images that I hope you have also enjoyed.

I'll be back in a few weeks time with another special festival blog post so tuned to The Unplugged Blog.  Remember though if you want see some images as they are shot live from the gigs follow me on Twitter and Instagram!  See you next time!

 

Radio 1 Big Weekend at Powderham Castle, Exeter - 28th and 29th May 2016

When I heard that Exeter was going to host this years Radio 1 Big Weekend music festival I soon cleared my calendar.  There was no way I was going to miss shooting some the worlds most biggest artists while they were only a few miles from my doorstep.  Normally I'd have to travel a little further for this kind of shoot.

I'm really excited to share these images so I'm going to save the rest of my thoughts for later on in the blog post and get straight into the photographs.

BBC Introducing Stage

In New Music We Trust Stage

Main Stage

Saturday

Sunday

The Crowd

Gear

I hoped you liked the images, but in case you are interested I'm going to talk a little bit about gear.  Aside from plenty of spare batteries and memory cards this was definitely a two body, two lens job.  The ability to switch between telephoto and wide quickly is really important as the action can be happening in front of you on the stage or behind you in the crowd.  For this gig my chosen gear was a Nikon D610 with 24-70mm f/2.8 VR and a Nikon D750 with 70-200 f/2.8 VR. Both are wonderful combinations to shoot with.

Aside from the camera gear though some essential items are sunblock, water and food.  Shooting a gig like this can be very busy.  Jumping between the press tent and three stages makes for a busy weekend and you don't want to be battling hunger, thirst and sunburn if you're going to take the best of images.  

The Experience

So what is like to shoot a big event like Radio 1 Big Weekend?  If I could describe it in three words they would be exciting, hectic, and fun!   There is no doubt that shooting festivals can be hectic.  With three stages and barely any gaps between an artist finishing on one stage and another starting somewhere else, you have to have a daily plan.  Without some sort of plan you will either burn out or miss someone you need to shoot.

It's also very exciting.  I still get a thrill as I enter the pit at the main stage and start shooting.  You can prepare by watching YouTube videos of the artists to see how they behave on stage, but every performance is different so you need to stay on your toes.

It's also fun.  After all, I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it.  I was located in the BBC Pictures tent and despite myself, the other photographers and the BBC staff being exceptionally busy everybody was enjoying themselves and there was always good chat while we walked between stages.

And finally...

My friends over at MusicMuso have written a full review of the Radio 1 Big Weekend and you read it over here.

My next festival will be Glas-Denbury in July.  As I did with this event I will be posting images live as they happen so remember to check out my Twitter and Instagram feeds.

See you next time on The Unplugged Blog!