Oct 172014

Jim Jones RevueA roadtrip, three gigs in 2 evenings and a spot of sightseeing  proved an exhausting but exhilarating weekend in and around Glasgow for Voice photographer Julie Thompson.

It might seem a bit of a hike to head for Glasgow for a small gig but it WAS the last ever show in Scotland for the Jim Jones Revue. Combine this with The Undertones the following evening and it made the trip even more enticing.

So, a hotel was booked – not in Glasgow but a bit out of town on the seafront in Helensburgh, just a short drive from Loch Lomond, meaning we could add a spot of sightseeing to the weekend. There was no enticement to hit the city during the day – I’m not one for shopping.

So, early Friday evening we arrive at Òran Mór, the venue for the first gig. We’re early – and hungry – so we head for the bar to grab a bite to eat, bumping into a couple of well known faces on the way in, who are also down for the gig. The food was OK, basic, but tasty and very hot. Just what was needed.

Checking the time, we have to dash for the door and head down to the basement for the support, which was partway through the first song when we arrive so it was a bit of a mad rush into the pit for some photos before heading to the bar for a drink and a listen.

John J Presley (no relation, I think) were playing – a 3 piece consisting of 2 guys (lead/guitar & drums) and a girl (keys). Mellow, bluesy music with driving guitar from the lead. Bass tones come from the keys section along with the interesting addition of a Harmonium. We actually had a long discussion – and some internet searching – with Jim Gellatly, a familiar face from the festival circuit, about what the instrument was actually called.

John J PresleyÒran Mór itself as a venue was actually pretty good. There are layers to this converted church. Food is served upstairs, where there is also a function room, there was a wedding going on somewhere and the basement was the live music spot and separate doors take you to the different spots. A very versatile place.

The popular A Play, A Pie and A Pint thing that comes to The Lemon Tree every so often, has a home here. Starting in 2004, they do lunchtime sessions and now put on 38 new plays a year.

Of course, we were here for the Jim Jones Revue. They recently announced that they were stopping recording and that this was their last tour – the ‘Last Hurrah’ tour in actual fact – so we had made a special effort to make it down for this – their last ever gig in Scotland.

By now they will have finished their tour ending back where they began, in London, but leaving a lot of disappointed fans behind.

They began their set as they meant to go on – at 100 miles an hour – blasting out their old school rock and roll like it was going out of business. We had a mad 10 mins in the pit (the length of the first 3 songs) before squeezing into the crowd to watch the rest of the gig. It was hot, sweaty and bouncy, even that early on.

Up on the stage there was a lot of thrusting guitars, splayed legs – in fact, all the moves you’d expect to see. The crowd wasn’t much different except they were thrusting their mobile phones into the air.

I spent a bit of time trying to figure out who Jim Jones reminded me of. Then it came to me – he looked a bit like Alan Rickman (except he was packing a guitar and yelling into a microphone) in Dogma. Well, it made me smile.

Not having seen Jim Jones Revue before, I was totally unfamilar with their work. I’d heard they were worth catching live and they really were. I am very glad to have had a chance to see them before the end.

Before we’d left Aberdeen my gigging partner, G, had spotted that a band we’d been wanting to catch were playing their last residency gig at Broadcast in the city centre. It was a late gig, so the timing was perfect for us. We’d decided to wait and see how we felt after Jim Jones Revue before deciding whether to head down for our second gig of the evening.

Just across the road from Òran Mór is the Botanical Gardens, where we had parked, and walking back to the car we spotted a food van. The aroma captured us as we wandered past – we were hungry again after bouncing about for a couple of hours. We didn’t have the advertised Scoobie Snack (1/4lb burger, sausage, cheese, bacon, egg & potato scone, all in a burger bun – for £3.40) but we did demolish a cheeseburger each.

Laura St JudeReplenished and re-energised we headed off down the road to Sauchiehall Street for a spot of Baby Strange, arriving shortly before their support, Laura St Jude, was due on stage.

Broadcast is a small, low ceilinged space in the basement of a bar, across the road from The Garage (where we would be the following night) and accessed via a spiral staircase. It’s pretty dark and red lit, not the best place to be with a camera and no flash but we’re always game for a challenge.

We had time for a drink and a sit down before the music began. Laura St Jude is a bonny girl – all dark hair, long eyelashes, high heels, long legs and a lovely voice. Mellow tunes strummed on her guitar, supported on lead guitar by a familar face to anyone who has seen The Amazing Snakeheads (who recently played The Lemon

Dale Barclay is a lot more restrained (and fully clothed) here. In fact, Laura has also been known to hop up on stage with The Amazing Snakeheads for a couple of songs – as she in fact did at The Lemon Tree just a few days ago.

The mellow music is a nice break from the fast and furious pace we’d just experienced and the place gradually began to fill up as the set progressed.

We’d last heard Baby Strange from a distance at the Wickerman Festival but I’d previously seen them in Inverness at the GoNorth music festival and had been hoping to catch them again. Here we got up close and personal with them and a very bouncy crowd – literally bouncing off the ceiling at times.

Baby StrangeThey’ve been doing a residency here at Broadcast for a while – playing here regularly and building up a following at the same time. It’s an interesting concept that some Aberdeen places could think about trying. Anyway, this is their last night of residency and they went out with a bang.

It was hot and sweaty and very lively, we had great fun here and G was pleased to finally have seen Baby Strange. They have a new fan and we hope they make it to Aberdeen sometime soon.

It was pretty late (early if you prefer) by now, so we went back to the car and began the drive back to the hotel. it was mostly motorway and pretty quiet so we made good time. I seem to remember faceplanting onto the bed and being off to sleep pretty quickly.

Morning found me a bit bleary but in need of sustenance. A walk along the seafront found a hot food shop where a bacon roll was gratefully accepted. I also managed to begin my Christmas shopping on the way back. Then we went for a drive up to Loch Lomond.

Heading north along the western shore we were disappointed by the lack of places to stop. There were lots of private no access roads until we got a bit further north. Then we hit the roadworks.

I’d forgotten the road got washed away some time ago and they are still fixing it. The queue northbound was maybe a half to three quarters of an hour waiting time. When we finally got to the head of the queue, the stop/go sign man let two lots through from the north with a long gap between where both ends had to wait (moving roadwork vehicles I guess), leading to a man in a car behind getting out to remonstrate with him.

We finally got through the fairlt hefty road workings only to find about 2 cars waiting to go south. We counted around 80 waiting to go north when we went back through a little later on.

Loch LomondHeading to a hotel/pub at the tip of the Loch we had a look in – it was dead and the car park was full of signs effectively saying ‘Don’t park here unless you’re going to spend money’ which put us off.

So we decided to get lunch elsewhere.

We stopped at one point and managed to get down to the Loch shores and had a wander along the banks.

There was so much rubbish there I spent some time picking up bits of emergency tape, old batteries and other nasties to dispose of properly. Not the reason we wanted to be there. All in all we found Loch Lomond a bit of a let down.

We found some information about the Loch Sloy hydroeletric scheme (the largest conventional hydroelectric power plant in the UK, begun in 1945, completed in 1950, built partially by German prisoners of war, 21 men killed during the construction) in the Inveruglas Visitors Centre and found our lunch in Luss, before heading back to Helensburgh to change and collect the gear for our next gig.

We were heading to The Garage – handily located across the road from Broadcast, so we were familiar with the area.

Supporting tonight were Esperanza – a fast 7 piece ska band, which struck me as a strange warm up for the Undertones. However they did a sterling job, and the place was busier than might have bee expected so early on.

The UndertonesThere was some jovial banter – ‘Hey Robert, where’s your hat’ – from a crowd who were obviously familar with them.

Their bass player is a tiny female, who was only slightly taller than her bass, sporting a batman belt buckle. Later we spotted her right in the middle of the lively moshing and having a whale of a time.

Ah, The Undertones. Tunes from my teenage years. I remember my first kiss – it was a guy called Nigel who cringed whenever a certain popular The Undertones tune came on the radio. Oddly enough, this was the show opener.

They have lost the distinctive vocals of Feargal Sharkey of course, but Paul McCloone provides a lively replacement.

Post photo shoot, we joined the crowd just on the edge of the moshpit. A few songs in, the bloke in front turned around and said ‘I apologise for what I’m about to do’ and with a giant grin he launched himself into the fray gone wild as ‘I’ve Got Your Number’ began.

The encore was 5 songs long, bringing the set list to 29 songs in total – and even then people did not want it to end.

Post gig, we located a fish and chip shop for some late night supper (bumping into one of the Security folk we’d seen in the Garage). G asked her for a funny story while we were waiting for the orders – she mentioned some of the things found when they searched people on the way in; a breast pump; one guy had some condoms, to which his girlfriend said ‘why have you got them, we don’t use them…’ – and so to the car and back to the hotel for bed.

Stirling CastleWe headed home cross country on the Sunday, the last day of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, joining the M9 at Stirling, stopping for lunch in a lay-by close to Stirling Castle while enjoying the view, before heading finally for home.
So back to my original thought – it might seems a long way to go just for a gig, but if you plan a little, you can turn it into something so much more. Why not?

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Jun 242014

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

walk_onOn the 31st of May & the 1st of June, a group of around 70 people walked nearly non-stop from Fraserburgh to Aberdeen.
This was no mean feat for the participants.
The purpose was to raise funds to help learning disabled people, for items such as musical instruments, movies, arts & crafts materials, and so on.

Earl Solomon was one of the walkers; here are the photographs he took.

walkers_assembleAll Shapes And Sizes (ASAS), the charity behind this walk believe that people with learning issues need more than just ‘care.

The charity’s Facebook charity page can be found

Many of  the walkers work with people with learning disabilities, young and old.

Here is a video filmed on the day of the event.

2 North 4 South from Frederick Sarran on Vimeo.

2 north 2 south on the roadASAS sets out its principles on its website:

“Our vision is to enhance life of Adults with Learning Disabilities/Difficulties (ALD) and mental health issues by promoting social inclusion to those individuals and to raise awareness & understanding to the public. 

“By enhancing their lives & sense of wellbeing is to become a valued member of society via inclusion in all things.

 “We aim to use a person centred approach directly to one individual and/or within a group, in order to aid & help facilitate crafts, arts, outings and other future activities within Balnagask Court (Aberdeen) and in the wider community.


“To enhance a sense of personal well being is to educate with a therapeutic approach and fun means, this results in building trust and confidence.

“Our values are to treat all individuals with respect and courtesy regardless of colour, gender, religion, etc… We act with dignity & care in a non-judgmental way towards all individuals, no matter of the level of difficulties they may have. Those values also apply towards each other members of All Shapes And Sizes.

  “Our goals are to branch out and liaise with other charities sharing our values, for the good of all Adults with Learning Disabilities/Difficulties and mental health service users within the wider community. We aim to introduce further activities and continuous improvements to Balnagask Court communal area.”

There is a Facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/237388926444110/

It’s not too late to donate, either; further details on the facebook page.

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Jun 132014

Julie Thompson continues her series on photographing bands in and around Aberdeen and the Shire taking in local and touring bands – far too many to list here – and concludes her chat to local music photographer Dod Morrison.

sex_pistols_experience (1)

The Sex Pistols Experience – Credit: Julie Thompson

So, it’s been a while. I’ve been keeping busy and with the festival season on the way, I kicked it off by visiting Inverness for Brew at the Bog.

This was a fun day with many great acts, including local band, The Little Kicks, who played the main stage early in the afternoon before having to dash off on a train southbound. You can see my review of it here.

Another thing I’ve been doing was to join forces with Still Burning, of Flares n Seagulls and to try and get into writing reviews a bit more.

This has been hard work and has not left a lot of time for much else – but I’m hoping that will calm down a bit once we have proper workflows in place.

So, gig-wise, what’s been on my radar since my last musings?

stanley_odd (1)

Going back to April there was the much better than I’d expected The Sex Pistols Experience on the newly expanded stage at The Moorings Bar, a very lively Pulled Apart by Horses at The Tunnels, and the fantastic The Temperance Movement at The Lemon Tree – a gig I’d been impatiently waiting for.

A review of The Temperance Movement by Suzanne Kelly is here. My review of that is on Flares n Seagulls.

Kicking off May was the bouncy rapper, Stanley Odd at The Tunnels and the ever-popular UK Subs playing a sold out show The Moorings Bar – a busy 3 days was topped off by The Brew at the Bog festival, where Stanley Odd and Admiral Fallow headlined.

The Media Whores played The Moorings bar the following weekend, and mid-May brought the Mickey 9’s to The Moorings Bar.

A week later the American foursome The Octopus Project played The Tunnels – a tricky low lighting gig with a very colourful backdrop and very catchy music.

peaceMost recently, I had a trip down to Dundee to catch Peace at Fat Sams.

That was a good gig with a very bouncy crowd.

Just around the corner from Fat Sams is Buskers, another music venue. Playing there were Fat Goth, who were launching their new album.

Just in that small area of Dundee I could hear live music coming from multiple buildings – I was really surprised by the amount. Dundee is not so far away for this sort of night out – we drove down leaving Aberdeen around 4pm, went to 2 gigs, had some takeout food then drove home, arriving around 12:30.

Dod Morrison has also been keeping busy, with The Rebellion punk festival and recent trip to America.

I asked him what he is most proud of in his music photography career so far:

“I’m proud of my Scottish music photo of 2013 winning pic http://thepopcop.co.uk/2014/02/the-best-scottish-music-photographs-of-2013/ . But have quite a few that I like but the Rebellion punk Festival mini magazine probably pips all the rest.”

Festivals – yeah or nay? Any favourites?

“Fooking yah, Rebellion festival without a shadow of a doubt the best festival anywhere in the world.. Where I do both sides I take photos and run the photo side of and get all the requests for passes, so I know how some PRs do feel.  And Glastonbury too… Great festival.”

Finally, any tips for those just starting out?

“Not to compare to other Photographers , we all have different styles…  and that when you apply for photo pass it really is only for the main band and does not include the supports, this has luckily only happened to me a couple of times once at the SECC Glasgow and most recently at the Music Hall Aberdeen. Also if you want to watch the bands you also should purchase a ticket-  in some cities you will be asked to leave and not see the show if you don’t have a ticket.”

Thanks Dod!


The Manic Shine played The Moorings Bar on the 6th June. I first came across this band at the Fat Hippy studios last year.

the_manic_shine (1)I was suitable impressed – so much so, I went home and bought their first album. They crowd funded their second album, which you can listen to in full on their website here.

Mid June takes me to Northallerton in Yorkshire for 4 days of festival fun at Willowman Festival where I’ll be shooting for Flares n Seagulls. Headliners are The Wailers and Craig Charles.

The Blockheads and Ruts DC are also playing, along with many other tasty treats.

Pretty sure I’ll be knackered after this and tied to my PC for a very long time processing photos – but it will be worth it.

It is inevitable that these musing will come to an end, certainly in their current form – after a very intensive ‘apprenticeship’ and with my experiences levelling off in the main, anything new I have to tell is limited.

Rather than repeating myself, ad nauseum, I am debating either ending the series or changing their nature to a roundup (maybe monthly) of live music in and around Aberdeen and the Shire.

the_octopus_project (1)What has been and how it was and what is to come.

Some things I mention may be even further afield, like the festival on my to-do list for June.

For the live music scene to continue and grow it needs people to attend.

Maybe I can help a little by informing people what’s on out there. Anyway, comments are enabled – let me know what you think.


May 162014

Three years ago, a new one-day music festival began, managed by Northern Roots Events, up near Inverness and hosted at Bogbain Farm. Sponsored by Brewdog, Brew at the Bog took shape.

Brew at the Bog ( http://www.brewatthebog.com ) is a festival which was created to showcase emerging Scottish music. Local craft beer and gin are also part of the attraction. This year it was a sell-out, and Julie Thompson went up there to see what the fuss was about.

admiral_fallowComprising four stages, the venue was compact and easy to navigate.

The Main Stage was obvious with its large arched frontage.

The other stages were smaller: the Barn stage is inside one of the stone buildings surrounding the Main Stage area.

The Gin Stage was accessed through the Barn Stage and became almost impassable when an act was performing in the Barn. Luckily there were only a few acts on in the Gin Stage, mostly in the afternoon. The Pond Stage was around the back of the buildings.

Food was varied; there was the inevitable burger van, with pretty good burgers in fact, but there were also tents providing more varied street food.


There was an ice-cream seller too, who proved popular as the day was quite warm and sunny until late afternoon.

Headliners on the Main Stage were Admiral Fallow and Stanley Odd, but to be honest, the whole day on the Main Stage was pretty strong, from the very entertaining Shiverin’ Sheiks, perfect for a lazy afternoon sitting drinking beer, through to Kid Canaveral, who had the place singing along and dancing.

I came across a few new (to me) acts that I will make a point of catching again in the future.

King Creosote kicked off the day on the Barn Stage, which was crammed. Along with their set, they showcased a new archive footage film which was shown on a large screen behind them.

Later on in the afternoon, Fatherson turned out to be the secret act that had been widely discussed.

Roddy Woomble, originally planned for the Main Stage, but swapped with Friends in America, played on the Pond Stage. Jo Mango stoically played though dripping water as the stage was leaking badly by this point, and Miaoux Miaoux closed the day.

king_creosoteSadly, with events on the Main Stage and the Pond Stage clashing, and the Barn Stage being impossible to get into if you were not there as soon as the last act ended, I was a bit limited in what I could catch. I did manage to see all the Main Stage acts, as well as King Creosote and some of the Pond Stage acts; and I had an excellent, if very long and tiring day.

It’s very easy to get to Brewbog and it can be managed as a day trip, although some people did camp on the small camping area adjacent to the car park.

Both these areas are, at most, a five minute walk from the entrance to the venue, which is wheelchair-friendly.

batb_stanley_oddThe portable toilets were restocked through the day and were remarkably clean, for a festival, from what I saw.

There was also a portable loo with wheelchair access.

I chose to start early and drove up from Aberdeen. Gates opened at 11:45 a.m. and the last Main Stage act was playing when I reluctantly left at around 11:30 p.m.

I left, well-fed and very happy, and looking forward to seeing what they have to show me next year.

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Mar 182014

Julie Thompson continues her series on photographing bands in Aberdeen taking in The Beards/Massive Horse, The Answer/Estrella and Federation of the Disco Pimp/Kagoule/Marionettes at The Lemon TreeThe 1975/The NBHD/Wolf Alice at The Music Hall, and chats to local music photographer Dod Morrison.


The Beards – Credit: Julie Thompson

It seems somehow appropriate to be interviewing Dod Morrison, given that we both recently paid a visit to The Lemon Tree to photograph The Beards.

Dod sports a fairly substantial beard himself, although arguably not as luxurious as those attached to the band.

The Beards, a novelty band over from Australia were here to entertain us, along with their support – Massive Horse. Massive Horse are a couple of rappers, who use a projection screen to show videos, filmed to go with their songs.

These sorts of thing can be useful props when photographing bands – although getting the right moment for the image you’re after can sometimes require patience and a lot of luck.

Beard stroking commenced when The Beards came on. They stroked their own, they stroked each other’s. They even stroked the beards of members of the crowd.

The Beards base their act around the fact that all of their songs are about beards, but that aside, they are actually pretty good. Mostly rock but with some slower numbers, they entertain between songs with banter and some set pieces such as the band taking a break – the singer & lead guitarist had a chat over a beer while the bassist read a book about beards – leaving the audience to carry the chorus.

One track in particular tickled my funny bone; Shaved off his Beard . You can watch them perform on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJkLH4uZ73M

All in all, it was a fun night.

The bearded (and often Mohicaned) Dod Morrison has been shooting gigs for some years – about half of them with professional gear – since getting the bug when he first took photographs of Hayseed Dixie on his wee camera back in 2004.

His biggest frustration is a fairly typical one, as I have found from reading other music photographer interviews:

‘PR companies messing ya about or be replying or forgetting to add you to list and the restrictions you get put on you when everyone in the crowd has a camera anyway.’

It does seem that people spend more time watching gigs live through a phone than actually looking at the band these days. It can be a problem for us when we are limited to shooting from the sound desk up at the back – all you can see is a sea of arms and hands with phones in them.

So, what bands has Dod found the most fun or exciting to photograph?


Dod (bottom right) at The Temperance Movement – Credit: Julie Thompson

‘The Adicts are the most exciting, along with Cock Sparrer and Rancid.’

He singles out the Adicts because he went on a 21 cities tour of America with them from coast to coast (New York to LA and back) including the House of Blues in Los Angeles. This was the furthest, to date, that he has travelled to shoot gigs.

The most famous names under his belt include U2, Iron Maiden, and Katy Perry and on that note we’ll stop for a while. The second half of this interview will continue next time

I’ve been busy photographing other gigs between my last Musings and this, but I never got chance to write them up before a chest infection, exacerbated by some smoke machines at The Music Hall, knocked me out of commission for a couple of weeks. I’ll quickly mention some of them and there are photos linked below for anyone interested.

In late January, Federation of The Disco Pimp arrived at The Lemon Tree, along with Kagoule and supported by local band Marionettes.

We arrived at The Lemon Tree to find the usual photographers pit missing – a new one to me at this venue. It did mean, after some discussion with security, that we had a bit of a free rein on shooting, as long as we didn’t get in the way or annoy anyone.

The local band, Marionettes, kicked off the evening. The band consists of 5 mostly local lads (some hail from Glasgow) and were actually good fun, sparring with the crowd and producing some nice bouncy music.

Next up were Kagoule, who are a very young (17 years of age) three piece grunge/post punk band – 2 lads on drums & guitar/vocals and a lass on bass and are already proving to be an exciting new addition to the music scene. In a departure from my normal gig routine, another photographer and I had a short back stage shoot with the band.

FOTDP are a seven-piece funk band – 2 saxophones, a trumpet, keyboards, 2 guitars and drums make up this ensemble. No vocals as such so finding the focal point for shooting was tricky. However, concentrating on the instrument lead at the time seemed the way forward. They were a pretty good band – if you like to strut your funky stuff, try and catch them if they come again.


The 1975 – Credit: Julie Thompson

The 1975, supported by The NBHD and Wolf Alice, played the Music Hall in early February.

When I arrived, there were young folk queuing into Golden Square, and some of those at the head of the queue were wrapped in blankets after being waiting for some time.

First up was Wolf Alice, which is a four-piece alternative rock band with a female lead. The lights were really down low for this band, giving me a challenge.

The NBHD (also known as The Neighbourhood) are an alternative rock band from California, formed in 2011. The crowd at the Music Hall seemed pretty familiar with this second support act. For this band and the next, there were strobes and smoke machines – not my favourite combination.

Headlining the young trio of acts, The 1975 hail from Manchester and are an up and coming alternative/indie foursome whose debut album hit number 1 in the UK Album charts back in September last year.

Fronted by Matthew Healy, sporting a floppy Mohican, it was a surprising accomplished performance with Matthew having the stage presence you’d expect from the lead. They are no boy band and they don’t stick to single instruments – swapping between guitar & keyboard, or adding in a sax solo and they seem to enjoy what they do – which shows in their performance.

Their highest charting single, Chocolate, reached 19 in the charts last year. They will be playing at T in the Park along with The Isle of Wight, Reading & Leeds festivals in the summer.

Later in the month was The Answer at The Lemon Tree – signed to the same Agency as The 1975.


The Answer – Credit: Julie Thompson

The Answer is an Irish rock & blues band, formed in 2000 and, as well as supporting the likes of Deep Purple & Whitesnake, they toured with AC/DC in 2008/2009.

Their most recent album, New Horizon, was released last year.

They were supported by Scottish band Estrella, originally from Thurso but relocated to Aberdeen. They play 80’s style rock and have the look to match – entertaining and fun to shoot.

Coming up next – the second part of the Dod Morrison interview, along with Indian Red Lopez at the Peacock Visual Arts Centre, Kid Canaveral at The Tunnels and March of the Mods.



More Photos:

Federation of the Disco Pimp (FOTDP)
The 1975
Woof Alice
The Answer
The Beards
Massive Horse

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Mar 062014

Peacock Visual Arts to host a moving exhibition documenting histories, stories and memories of military conflict in Northern Europe.

Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 2012 500

© Marc Wilson Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 2012.

Terry O’Neill Award winner Marc Wilson is bringing his stunning series of photographs ‘The Last Stand’ to Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen. The exhibition will open to the public on Friday 28 March 2014 at 6pm.

So far 53 of the 80 images in the series have been photographed, focusing on military defence structures that remain and their place in the shifting landscape that surrounds them.

Over the years many of the wartime defence locations have disappeared from view, either subsumed or submerged by the changing sands and waters or by more human intervention. At the same time others have re-emerged from their shrouds.

Marc has so far travelled over 15,000 miles to 109 locations to capture these images along the coastlines of the UK, The Channel Islands, Northern France and Belgium. He has recently spent 8 days photographing in Orkney and Shetland and is soon to visit the Western coast of France down to the Spanish border, Holland, Denmark, and Norway.

This poignant exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts follows on from shows at The Anise Gallery, London and The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. The work has been featured on BBC online, TV and Radio and The Guardian.

The objects and zones of defence Wilson photographs serve as ‘a visual marker to the shadows of conflict’ (Wayne Ford) and are as such an important part of the fabric of our recent histories and memories.

Over the intervening years some of these ‘markers’ have been lost to the passage of time and shifting sands. Very recently on the Northern coast of France, at Wissant, the vast wartime defences were pulled apart and removed by the authorities. Marc was lucky to have photographed these defences last year but today there is nothing but the sand and tides in this place. No physical reminder of the past remains.

Yet at the same time in late 2013 some defences along the coast of the UK have re-emerged from the dunes after an extreme storm. These defences, although often submerged by waters or subsumed by sands are never really lost to us.

The exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen will show a selection of 22 images from the series, including those from locations in Scotland, The Northern Isles, Northern France and England.

Exhibition Runs: 29 March – 10 May 2014.
Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 – 5:30pm
Exhibition Opening on Friday 28th March, 6 – 8pm.

Free entry. All welcome.

Feb 042014

Julie Thompson continues her series on photographing bands in Aberdeen taking in Terry McDermott & The Bonfires, Amy Sawers, Craig John Davidson & Innes Cardno at The Lemon Tree, Toxik Ephex at The Moorings, and Iron Broo at The Beach Ballroom.

Craig John Davidson - Credit: Julie Thompson

Craig John Davidson – Credit: Julie Thompson

The last of my three Lemon Tree events between Christmas and New Year was to shoot Terry McDermott and the Bonfires, along with his supports Amy Sawers and Craig John Davidson with Innes Cardno.

A queue had formed outside The Lemon Tree when I arrived. Some had come over from the USA especially for this gig – they were big Terry McDermott fans.

I also bumped into Matt Jolly’s dad – who is also a big Craig John Davidson fan.

Craig John Davidson took to the stage to start the evening, along with Innes Cardno. Craig was excellent as ever but Innes was new to me and what a revelation the two of them together was – quite amazing. Craig alone is an incredible guitarist, but the two together were musical manna with Innes weaving lovely melodies around Craigs vocals and guitar.

amy1Amy Sawers was the next act on stage.

This was my first time seeing her on stage (previously I’ve only seen her in one of the Old Granite Whistle Test sets in HMV). She has a fantastic, powerful voice and big dark eyes.

Her eyes were usually open as she played and she looked around and made eye contact with the photographers (well, their cameras).

So many guitarist look down at their hands, which can make catching an open eyed shot a challenge.

I’ve found that eye contact from a performer can often lead to intense images that can make the back of the neck tingle.

Aberdonian Terry McDermott – who was runner up on Season 3 of The Voice, a US talent show and has become a big name over there – was back in his home city to coincide with his new single release; ‘Lose this Feeling’, and to Headline at the New Year’s ‘Gig at the Brig 2013’ in Ellon.

Terry was previously with the Aberdeen band, Driveblind. Today he was singing with his band, The Bonfires – a mixture of American and British musicians.

terry2By the time Terry & his band took to the stage, the place was pretty packed, with the Americans fans front and center against the pit wall.

Also along to shoot this gig were Matt Jolly, George Mackie, Dod Morrison and Andy Thorn.

I had a quick word with Captain Tom before Terry came on, as I wanted to see if I could shoot some images from the crowd later on, after the pit session was over.

Terry was actually quite good to shoot – he was active and made good eye contact with those there to take the photos.

I enjoyed the shoot and his performance and the crowd loved the show, his new single going down very well with them.

I had a stupid novice problem later on, outside the pit. When I was taking my camera out of my bag I must have knocked the autofocus switch to off.

I didn’t notice at first; I just thought my eyes were tired. Anyway I missed a few, but luckily not too many, good photo opportunities due to that mistake, so mental note to self – take more care and always check the autofocus switch is on!

innes1Terry and his band had a busy night planned, as it happens – during his set he announced that they were playing again a little later that evening.

After the signings and chatting at the Lemon Tree, they were off to play an acoustic gig at Korova on Bridge Street.

At the end, I managed to swipe a set list that Terry was kind enough to sign, as an addition to my memento drawer.

I remember, some time ago, asking George Mackie if he’d photographed anyone well known – Iron Maiden, Paul Weller & Katy Perry were some of the names he mentioned.

He has also been at the X-Factor shows when they visit and was recently at the AECC for Boyzone.

I asked if there was anyone he applied for and was gutted when he got a refusal:

“I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of knowing. I still get rejections of photo pass applications, but not so many these days.”

His travels for music photography are somewhat limited by him being self employed – he single-handedly runs his football related business and can’t just take off for days on end whenever he wants – so he mainly reserves his trips for the summer when the festivals are on.

Wickerman is his favourite and was the first he got a pass for:

“My kind of music with my kind of people in attendance”

Belladrum is another favourite, mostly because there is so much going on. It’s a family friendly festival and great for candid/street style photography, another of his interests.

I asked if there anything he wished he’d known when he first started:

“Possibly to shoot in RAW, but fast action photography needs the best equipment to process the digital files. At the time I could capture sudden movement more precisely by pressing the shutter whilst saving as jpeg files. I’ve never been a fan of rapid shooting as you then lose the precision and control over what is captured.”

Last question, George, honest! Any tips you’d like to share?

“Start with small shows in dark rooms, you’ll learn the functions of your camera better.”

A couple of weeks on from the festive season and I was off to The Moorings to see Toxik Ephex.

toxik1Toxik (originally called The Abductors) are possibly one of Aberdeen’s longest surviving Punk bands going back, off and on, for some 35 years.
Having previously only caught the tail end of their last one in Downstairs @ The Malt Mill a few weeks back I was interested to see a full show.

Dod Morrison was, of course, there; in fact he was singing along in a mic at several points during the evening. Moorings house tog, Matt Jolly, was also

Tonight I had decided to try a new thing. I had an event coming up the following week which needed me to be familiar with flash and I thought this would be a suitable venue and subject to use as a testing ground.

I’d played around with various settings during the support act but wasn’t really happy with the results, a dark background and flash lit washed-out subjects.

During the gap between support and main act, I put my thinking cap on, eventually coming up with a theory where I could fill-light the subjects so they look natural but also keep the ambient lighting visible. Still, proof of the pudding is in the result – having a theory is all very well – and so, with some trepidation, I set my camera to those theoretical settings and prepared to give it a try.

Another issue with using flash is that you have to wait between shots for the flash to recharge. It slows you down and makes you pick your images more carefully, so in some ways it is no bad thing. However, here’s a little tip – always carry spare batteries because flash recharge time increases as the batteries are used. Swap them out for fresh ones well before they go flat. Keep the old ones for reuse – they’ll still last a long time in a tv remote.

toxik2Looking for that special moment can be engrossing – which is why I ended up getting my camera accidentally smacked back into my eye. People are closer than you think when you’re looking at them through a wide angle lens.

I eventually ended up standing on the edge of the stage for a while to grab some close-up photos of Dod, the frontman, interacting with the crowd. This was an excellent position for the shots I was looking for, but the crowd closed in beneath leaving me effectively stranded for a while.

I think everyone there had a great time, the crowd was well natured and I was pretty pleased with the results from my flash experiment. I had a great night, despite the bruises.

The last event I’ll briefly mention was something new to me.

iron_broo1There was live music, yes, but this was of a different sort to the music I’ve usually been

It was a Ceilidh – in this case a charity event to fundraise for ARCHIE – with Iron Broo and friends (Paul Anderson & Bob Knight) providing the music.

The event was a sell-out and the floor was so often packed that people had little room to dance.

It was fun to watch, a challenge to photograph and all for a great cause. I even learned a few new dances that night. Well done to all those involved in getting this event organised!

.paul_anderson2sq bob_knight1sq

I’ve picked my next music photographer to talk to – Dod Morrison. He’s been shooting gigs for some years now and should have some interesting tales to tell.

More Photos:

Terry McDermott & The Bonfires
Amy Sawers
Craig John Davidson & Innes Cardno
Toxik Ephex
Ceilidh for ARCHIE

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Dec 242013

In her continuing series on the life of a pit photographer, Voice’s Julie Thompson pulls focus on The Bloody Marys Christmas Stocking at The Lemon Tree, Darth Elvis & the Imperials and Juicy Juicy Juice at The Moorings and The Lorelei, Brothers Reid and The Deportees at The Lemon Tree.

Marys1 - Credit Julie Thompson As Christmas is heading towards us at great speed, I went looking for seasonal musical offerings this week. Unfortunately, with two of the things on my schedule happening on the same evening, it meant a curtailed evening for both events.
Heading off to the Lemon Tree for The Bloody Marys, I encountered many more women than I am used to these days.

There was also an extreme preponderance of feather boas. Hardly surprising, given the nature of the reason we were all there. We were all there to party.

The Bloody Marys are a trio of guys who, considering what I had heard about them, were pretty sedately dressed in matching Christmas jumpers (a Reindeer pattern with a flashing red nose) for the first half of their set.

Marys2 - Credit Julie ThompsonI was waiting in the pit – which I had to myself – when they walked on and ripped straight into Fame, which quickly had the place jumping, followed by Disco Inferno & Mama Mia.

The stage was curtained by shimmering material, and a Christmas tree adorned the raised platform normally occupied by a drum kit.

Under the tree were a series of wrapped presents. Snowflakes dangled from the ceiling. All very festive.

My 3 songs were up so I wandered off up to the second tier as they began Pray – which they accompanied with choreographed boy band style dancing. At the end they had the first present giveaway – punters had to vote on who was the best dancer and the winner got to distribute a present to someone in the crowd.

I caught a glimpse of the contents of one of the parcels later on – they were limited edition Bloody Marys t-shirts.

Marys3 - Credit Julie ThompsonI went down into the dance area to get a bit of atmosphere before I had to leave for The Moorings. A Grease medley, Heart Attack, another Abba number, Hungry like the Wolf and Gloria later, I headed off, as Gimme Gimme Gimme began.

When I had arrived at The Lemon Tree, I bumped into someone I knew from a shop I frequent. I asked her how the second half went – apparently the guitarist & keyboard players reappeared in wee white frocks and the lead singer in an angel outfit. Stockings, wings, full make-up – the whole works.

It was a shame I missed the second half as it would have made for some fun photographs. Maybe I’ll be able to catch them next year.

So, a great gig for a girls night out and even the guys had fun – yes, I saw you there!

Darth1 - Credit Julie ThompsonSo, on to The Moorings and Darth Elvis.
I had timed my arrival to the estimated stage time for the main act, but I was lucky enough to catch the very end of the debut of Juicy Juicy Juice, as things were running a bit late.

I had time to grab a few shots and get my camera adjusted from Lemon Tree to Moorings settings.

Darth Elvis – now there’s a name that plays with the imagination.

From their Facebook page bio:

“Darth Elvis & The Imperials are a Star Wars themed Elvis tribute band from Viva Mos Eisley. In 1977 Elvis didn’t die he turned to the Darkside of the Force and ever since he has been playing music venues around the Outer Rim Territory. The time has come for the Dark King of the Sith & his band of Imperials to return to the Galaxy where he is best known.”

OK, right now I am going to give some major kudos to these guys – especially the drummer, TK4468, who was in full Stormtrooper gear.

Darth2 - Credit Julie ThompsonThey stay in costume the whole show.

Anyone familiar with the Moorings knows how hot it gets in there – sweatbox is the word I hear used most often by bands to describe the place  – so how these guys were not puddles of goo at the end, I have no idea.

The band – minus the lead vocalist – mounted the stage (it was actually quite amusing watching the Stormtrooper trying to bend his knees enough to climb up there) and began playing The Imperial March as Darth Elvis advanced through the audience, jingling bells.

Under the dark cloak wasn’t the bejewelled white Vegas suit I was expecting, but a red & white Santa suit.

So, it seems we have a Darth Elvis Santa tonight.

Between such numbers as Gungan in Disguise ((You’re the) Devil in Disguise), Viva Mos Eisley (Viva Las Vegas), Burning Sith (Burning Love), You ain’t nothing but a Nerf Herder (containing the memorable line “You ain’t never caught a womp rat and you ain’t no friend of mine.”) Darth distributed presents from a snowman stocking.

Darth3 - Credit Julie ThompsonI’m pretty sure he said one of the objects he tossed into the crowd was a tin of lube, but maybe my ears were playing up.

Of course there was the obligatory Christmas song – Merry Sithmas Everyone – and lots of laughs and singalongs.

It was an easy shoot, apart from the hood obscuring the face of Darth a lot of the time. All in all, a fun, totally non-serious but exhausting night.

My last festive gig was at The Lemon Tree with the ever popular The Lorelei – possibly my favourite local band – which I first encountered at Belladrum this year. Always a fun bunch, I’d been looking forward to this one. Sadly, Diane (who is currently cooking a new mini-Lorelei, due next year) was unable to join the boys on her viola.

Lorelei1 - Credit Julie ThompsonThe Lorelei – ‘Imagine a rock band and a folk band having a fight and the rock band just coming out best.

That’s The Lorelei!’

The stage area was decorated with tinsel and fairy lights and there were a few balloons scattered about the place.

There were two support acts before the main – The Deportees and Brothers Reid – both providing pleasant folk/rocky music to get us in the mood.

Before The Lorelei came on, I went to check with Captain Tom if it was ok to shoot from the floor after my time in the pit was up.

Lorelei4 - Credit Julie ThompsonHe was happy to let me do that and also said I could go behind the magic curtain (well, the side curtain that the band use) so I could photograph the shy and elusive Keith the drummer.

John came on stage and began to sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. There was a murmur from the crowd and I turned to see a white bearded Flossie (Mandolin/Fiddle) leading a dancing Rudolph through the crowd.

Beefy (Lead Guitar) & Jonny (Bass) hurriedly disrobed brown fur and the band joined John onstage. Keith the elf took the drum stool and away they went, 100 miles an hour as usual.

Lorelei5 - Credit Julie ThompsonSomething soft bounced off my head at one point and I looked around to see what was it was. Oddly, there was to be a lot more balloons about than there were between me walking down to the pit and now.
I had no idea where they came from, but better a balloon to the head than any of the other things it could have been.

My 3 songs were up as the pit started filling up with balloons, so I waded through them to the exit and took up position at the pit wall for the rest of the gig.

I’ll tell you this, it is really hard to keep a steady camera hand when you’re bopping to the music. I’ve been in The Lemon Tree quite a few times now – on some very busy nights – but this was the first time I had actually felt the floor bounce.

Reid2 - Credit Julie ThompsonThere were bets taken as to how long Keith would wear the elf suit before evaporating and we were treated to a striptease – with appropriate music – when he finally gave in.

The elf suit made its way across the stage and was thrown into the audience with a call of ‘Who wants to smell the drummer?’ This brought a reply of ‘We already can!’ The last time I saw the costume, it was being worn by a brave chap who may have been lacking a sense of smell.

There were explosions from confetti cannons but sadly the snow machine was not co-operating – which I’m sure pleased The Lemon Tree staff.

The crowd was fantastic, there simply to have fun, exchange some banter, sing along and dance.

The inevitable Christmas song was the Bob Dylan song It Must Be Santa (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8qE6WQmNus). A nice change from the typical songs you hear and oddly in keeping with The Lorelei style.

A great gig that really helped kindle some of my festive spirit, greatly lacking until now.

Deportees1 - Credit Julie ThompsonAs the evening came to a stomping close, I wandered over for a chat with Beefys wife, Captain Tom and one or two other folk before being politely asked to vacate the premises.

As I left, the brushes were out as staff cleared up the scattered remains of burst balloon skins and confetti.

Candy canes from the tree were being eaten by the bar staff, as this was the last event before Christmas.

I have some gigs lined up in the weekend between Christmas and New Year but George Mackie is proving rather elusive to pin down long enough for a chat.

Maybe I need a tranquiliser gun to slow him down a bit.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Festivus, Midwinter, Yule, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – or whatever you may celebrate at this time of year – and I hope your New Year is a better one.

More Photos:

The Bloody Marys
Darth Elvis
Juicy Juicy Juice
The Lorelei
Brothers Reid
The Deportees

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Dec 172013

Ricky_Warwick2 - Credit: Julie ThompsonIn her continuing series on the life of a pit photographer, Voice’s Julie Thompson takes in Ricky Warwick’s acoustic set at Musa, Enuff Z’Nuff, Blue Origin and Guttergodz at The Moorings, and The Courteeners and Telegram at the Music Hall.

So, after my rather busy timetable last week, I spent the weekend recuperating – in fact, I spent most of it either sleeping or processing photos. I had a quieter week this week but one with 3 very different gigs/venues on my schedule. I even managed to slot in a couple of Christmas dinners and some socialising.

First up was a very intimate acoustic session with Ricky Warwick in Musa. I had been invited to this private function and it was suggested I bring my camera gear along.

Between songs – which were a mix of Thin Lizzy (Boys are Back in Town, Whiskey in the Jar, Jailbreak, Rosealie) & his solo work (Three Sides to Every Story, The Whiskey Song) interspersed with some covers (Ace of Spades, Ring of Fire, even Oops I Did it Again; which was met with a ripple of laughter that ran around the room as people realised) – Ricky told amusing stories from his past.

A tale from his teenage years began with the information that he grew up on a very large chicken farm, which had the unfortunate consequence that everything, people included, ended up smelling of chicken droppings.

He told the, slightly mournful but amusing, tale of an attempt at dating.

Ricky Warwick3 - Credit: Julie Thompson

He picked the girl up in a car and as they were driving to the date, her nose started twitching and she asked what the smell was.

After first denying a smell and then winding down a window, he was forced to confess it was him, at which she asked to be let out. This is why, he says, he ‘never got laid’.

Later on he told a tale about how, having fallen on hard times between bands, he took work as a sandwich delivery boy, dropping lunches into various companies.

He was out one night and noticed a couple of girls pointing and whispering to each other and, when they came over, was thinking they recognised him from his music. ‘Are you Ricky?’ one asked. ‘Yes, I am’ he replied. ‘Well, those sandwiches you brought in the other day were delicious’ was the, somewhat demoralising, reply.

I had a short chat with Ricky afterwards, where he told me that he found himself more nervous doing these small events than the larger ones – I suppose there is often a big separation from the audience at larger events and the band are generally in a ‘bubble’ of security that is totally absent in the smaller places making audience feedback limited to applause, well that, and the fact that a bread roll is more likely to hit you when it is thrown from a nearby table.

I’m happy to say that no food was thrown, laughter was frequent and a good time seemed to be had by all.

Enuff1 - Credit: Julie ThompsonMy next gig was yet another visit to the now very familiar, The Moorings (who are doing an excellent job of getting some good acts in) this time to see American band Enuff Z’Nuff, currently on tour around the UK with returning frontman Johnny Monaco. They were supported by local band Guttergodz, who I have encountered a couple of times now, and a band currently on tour with them, the very lively Blue Origin.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this gig, as I’d not come across Enuff Z’Nuff before, but I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed the evening. They’ve been going a long time now – more than 25 years with 12 studio albums under their belt.

As the set progressed they kept joking that they’d keep playing until someone recognised one of the songs. That could have taken a while – they have a large back catalog.

They were obviously enjoying themselves & interacting well with the crowd. At one point in the set, I noticed the frontman extract a bit of paper from a folder for the bass player – I managed to grab a quick snap of it for later examination and I was very glad I did.

enuff3The began a number called Baby Loves You – this morphed into a medley which incorporated 500 miles, Don’t Stop Believin’ & Summer of ’69 – the crowd was enticed into singing along with them for these.

We were all happily singing along to one which was vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure why.

As people realised what it was there was amusement and then somewhat defiant singing.

It was Call Me Maybe, one of those slightly embarrassing ones you don’t realise you’ve picked up the words to, and was quickly followed by Wrecking Ball.

I am pleased to report the last one was not performed naked on a large swinging ball and was all the better for it.

Towards the end of the set, the band began expressing thanks to everyone for coming along to see them, to Flash (the owner of The Moorings) for driving them around (‘like a madman’) and, surprisingly, to the photographers for coming along to take photos and ‘helping to keep their name alive’ – I was a bit touched, I have to say.

Afterwards, I was asked to take a photo of someone with, and given an unexpected bear-hug by, the bassist – Chips Z’Nuff – and had a wee chat & a hand-shake with Johnny. They were a lovely bunch of guys.

When I began processing the photos from this gig later, I came across the photo of the sheet of paper I mentioned earlier, and found it was a list of the songs used in the medley – for someone with a memory like mine, it was a blessing.

Courteeners1 - Credit: Julie ThompsonMy last gig of the week was at the Music Hall to see some fellow northerners, The Courteeners. I’m not going to explain how I got a pass for this one – a girl has to keep some secrets!

All I will say is that I finally got the pass about an hour before the support was due on stage – giving me just enough time to grab a bite to eat.

This was a new experience – there was apparently no space for togs in the pit so we had to hang out at the back by the sound desk.

I was glad I’d the foresight to pack my 70-200mm lens, although even that was a bit short for the distance.

I asked if I could have a chair – it was a standing event and, as I’m not 7 foot tall, seeing over a sea of raised arms, all holding mobile phones, would make shooting the band pretty tricky – but that was not allowed (H&S I think). I went for a scout about to see where I might get a decent spot; the sides of the balcony area would have been good but that was not possible.

While I was waiting for the support act, Telegram, to start Dod Morrison arrived and we discussed the shooting limitations.

Courteeners3 - Credit: Julie ThompsonI had noticed a raised area about halfway down one side of the hall when I arrived (this was a ramp & platform for those with disabilities) so a quick chat with the head of security after the support act had finished gained us access to the area for the main act.

As we only get the first 3 songs, we did not get in their way at all.

We can be pretty discrete, and I hope it wasn’t too irritating for the two people sat there.

Having noticed the massive banks of lights at the back of the stage and had seen a sign on the way in that said heavy strobe and smoke effects would be in use I was a bit worried, because these two combined can lead to tricky shooting conditions – especially from a distance.

I was worrying needlessly as it turned out because the first three songs were beautifully lit with different colour themes for each song – red for the first, green/purple for the second and yellow/white for the third. This is good because, being limited on shooting angles as we were, it gives you some options when it comes to picking a nice variety of images of the gig.

Beer was flying about part-way through the third song, much of it aimed at the stage. As I was packing up my gear, I heard frontman, Liam Fray, say:

“Are you here to be entertained?”  *Cheers*

“Are you here to dance?” *More cheers*

“Well, if more beer gets thrown at the stage you won’t have either. If it gets in these electronics *points to the front of the stage* then it’s over. So, PACK IT IN!”

A true northerner – blunt and to the point. It momentarily made me feel a little bit homesick.

My preliminary preparations for gigs I have applied for varies – if I have never heard of them or heard anything by them before, I will sometimes go in cold or I will look for photos of them online to see what they are like live to shoot. Sometimes, though, I will listen to a few songs or watch videos of them live on youtube.

For The Courteeners I went to their website & watched a few of the videos there.

One of the tracks, Van Der Graaff, had a great riff and I thought the song was lovely. I wasn’t planning on staying for the whole gig but I stayed on for a few more songs after the camera gear was packed away, to watch the excellent light show as much as anything. I was putting on my coat in the hall exit when that riff dragged me back into the main hall to listen. Magic!

Later in the week, I was out with my day job colleagues (pretty much all the music togs here have day jobs) for the evening when I heard a familiar song playing in the pub – it was the opening track from The Courteeners gig – Are You in Love With a Notion? It’s funny how some things seem to follow you about at times.

So, what’s next on my schedule?

Well, with Christmas fast approaching, I have a festive/fun lineup for next week. I also hope to have pinned down George Mackie long enough for a chat.

More Photos:

Ricky Warwick
Enuff Z’Nuff
Blue Origin
The Courteeners

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Dec 062013

In her continuing series on the life of a pit photographer, Julie Thompson reports on an extremely busy week, taking in Withered Hand, Charles Latham and Dear Lara at The Tunnels, Toxik Ephex  Downstairs @ The Malt Mill, Pallas , Hellhouse, The June Brides, and Stanley over two nights at The Moorings, Sweet and Slade at The Music Hall, and resumes her chat with Matt Jolly, in-house photographer at The Moorings.

Withered Hand -  Credit Julie Thompson Well, I’ve been a very busy bee this week/weekend.
Sleep? What’s that? Still, I got my first pass for The Music Hall – so another step up the learning curve for me.

As you can see from my schedule, I covered 5 gigs over 4 evenings, which left me with a bit of a gig hangover.

I’ll not talk about all of them in much detail but I will just mention that the Pallas gig is covered in an Aberdeen Voice review here.

So, first up was Thursdays gig (28th November) – Withered Hand, with support from Charles Latham & Dear Lara. I couldn’t help reflecting on the difference from my last gig at The Tunnels 1. Last time I was there, the place was a sweaty, heaving mass of folk all there to see the excellent The Temperance Movement.

Tonight, there were tables & chairs in place of bodies on the dance floor – an obvious clue that I was in for a totally different sort of evening.

Dear Lara -  Credit Julie ThompsonI usually keep my camera on silent shooting mode, which reduces the shutter sound significantly but doesn’t eliminate it. As the first support, Dear Lara (a young Glaswegian called David Lan) took the stage I was a bit concerned how loud my camera sounded to me, so at a suitable break I asked the table closest if it was annoying them.

They said they’d not heard a thing and that it was nice someone was there taking photos, which was reassuring.

Dear Lara describes his music on his Facebook as ‘music for when the party’s over’ and indeed it is very relaxing and peaceful to listen to him.

He was followed by Charles Latham, who from the start had me giggling.

Charles Latham -  Credit Julie ThompsonAn amusing, confident and somewhat irreverent American, he said he was asked along as support due to Withered Hand having covered one of his songs in the past. He has a naughty sense of humour which I liked very much.
Withered Hand (the stage name for Dan Willson) is an indie rock musician from Edinburgh. His first album came out on 2009 and he’s been keeping busy with shows featuring collaboration with his friends & colleagues and recording a second album with guest appearances from the likes of King Creosote & Frightened Rabbit, amongst others.

I had to leave before the end, as I wanted to catch the end of my next gig at Downstairs – a total contrast to the evening I’d had so far.

It was a punk night, which had, by the time I arrived, descended into chaos; chaos featuring feather dusters.

This was a 4 band benefit gig for Dod Copland, whose story has featured in The Aberdeen Voice previously.

Toxikhaos Credit Julie Thompson

I arrived about half an hour from the end and Toxik Ephex (well, their instruments anyway) were in full flow. Some of the band seemed to be taking a timeout as ‘audience participation’ was… well… occurring. Drums, guitar & microphones were all under the control of audience members onstage, along with others brandishing feather dusters.

General good humour abounded though, despite an overrun on curfew time and lots of spilt beer.

I’m about 9 weeks in from my first gig shoot now, and the newest newbie of the togs in Aberdeen. Matt Jolly, as we saw last week, has been shooting gigs for over 2 years now.

It turns out he has previously photographed someone that I met and shot at a private event last night, Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders (which for anyone who doesn’t know, is a band created from the most recent Thin Lizzy lineup, as they felt uncomfortable releasing a new album using the Thin Lizzy name).

Matt_Jolly_at_work_MooringsI think Matt is currently most excited about his recent trip with Fat Hippy Records to Los Angeles, California.

He went along, at Captain Toms invite, to document the trip. Local talents Amy Sawers & Craig John Davidson went over to support Terry McDermott at the word famous Molly Malones for a showcase gig.

During this 5 day trip he accompanied (and photographed) them shopping for new guitars and, once the gig was over, took some time out to sightsee.

His thoughts on festivals – I went to my first ever this summer at Belladrum – he loves them. His went to his first at the age of 15 and thinks they are a great opportunity for discovering new bands & music that you might not come across normally.

He said:

“Attending my first T in the Park in 1998 and seeing the likes of The Prodigy and Beastie Boys was a pretty mind blowing experience at that age. This year I went to Download festival in England, traveling down with Semperfi and Akord to cover their sets as they played at the festival for the first time.

“They had all been before as punters but it was my first time at Download which was a fantastic weekend, I’m really grateful to the guys in both bands as they have given me some really great opportunities in the last 3 years.”

I asked if he had any tips he would share.

“Well, it may be obvious but the best thing to do if you’re just starting out is just get out there and take photos. It’s the only way you’ll learn and from there you can go on to develop your style and the type of photographer you’ll want to be whether it’s for a hobby, a part time job, or a full on career.”

I had hoped to obtain permission to shoot Hugh Cornwell (of The Stranglers) on the Saturday at The Lemon Tree, however, I was unsuccessful. So Plan B was enacted and I was off to The Moorings to see The June Brides supported by local band Stanley.

The June Brides, one of the first indie-pop bands, had chart success in the early to mid 80’s and split in 1986. They reformed in 2012 with pretty much the original line-up. There was much dancing and silliness that night – I think I spent more time people-watching than shooting the bands.

I’ve not got around to processing the shoot yet, as I have a huge backlog to plough through, but I will put some photos up on my flickr page when I finally cross them off my list.

Sweet - Andy Scott - Credit Julie ThompsonSundays gig featuring Sweet & Slade was a whole new ball-game to the previous venues I’d visited in the past few days – the beautiful Music Hall.

Having applied for a photo pass a couple of weeks ago, I finally got the go ahead a couple of days before the event. Surprised, much? Yes, I was.

I was also excited and a bit nervous. When I arrived I went to the box office prepared with an email printout in case my name wasn’t actually on their list.

Luckily  all went smoothly and I was in. While I was waiting for the place to fill up, I bumped into a couple of togs I knew, so there were 3 of us in total for the shoot.

There was no pit setup so we got to wander in front of the stage for the first 3 songs from each band. If anyone reading this was there in the front couple of rows, I’ll apologise now if I got in your way!

Sweet 1 -  Credit Julie ThompsonSweet was the first onstage – with guitarist Andy Scott, the only original member, getting the loudest cheers and we togs went to work.

They went down a storm but I was too busy shooting to notice the tiny old lady, who had been sitting near where we were hanging out when not shooting, had at some point decided to join us up at the front of the stage – she was dancing away, oblivious to us folk dashing about with the cameras. Good on her!

By the time Wig-Wam Bam began, pretty much the whole place was up and jumping about. Other old favourites followed – Block Buster, Ballroom Blitz – fun, toe tapping and well executed.

The ice-creams were wheeled out at the intermission and the tiny old lady had two – obviously needing sustenance after her dancing exertions.

Slade were next. They still have 2 of their original members – Dave Hill on guitar & Don Powell on drums.

Noddy Holder was replaced as lead by Mal McNulty (also on guitar) with John Berry providing bass and, also violin. What interested me about this was that Mal swapped his guitar for a bass when the violin was in use.

It seems the tiny old lady either wasn’t a Slade fan or she’d used all her energy in the first half. She didn’t leave her seat for Slade.

Slade - Don Powell -  Credit Julie Thompson

One problem when you have a high stage to shoot are the floor monitors – those short but wide black speakers that sit at the front of the stage in front of the band members  providing sound to them, so they can actually hear themselves.

With Sweet there had been spaces between them, which you could use to get full length head to foot shots of the band members. Slade filled those gaps with boxes. However, they did stand on them for time to time which gave us some opportunities; otherwise you’re somewhat limited on angles.

There was dancing in the aisles, dancing in the seats – most folk were up and moving at some point. They, of course, ended on an old favourite chart topper which, considering we had just entered December was not inappropriate.

Donning seasonal headwear for the finale, Mals Santa hat specially designed to fit over his original hat and Don wearing a large chimney hat with Santas legs poking out of the top, they belted out Merry Xmas, Everybody.

The big shoes & outrageous garb may no longer be there but there was still the glitter & long hair and it was a fun evening, one I suspect I’ll try to do again (hopefully better) if they return at some point. We all know the old saying about practise…

So, what’s coming next on my schedule?

Well, one was a bit of a surprise and a thank you for some work I’ve been doing elsewhere – an acoustic evening with Ricky Warwick at a private event at Musa, I’m waiting to hear about a gig at The Lemon Tree and I hopefully have a four band gig, with headliner Enuff z’Nuff, coming up at The Moorings (if my body hasn’t given in by that point).

Lastly I’ve decided George Mackie (one of the two I bumped into at the Music Hall) will be my next tog in the spotlight.

More Photos:

Withered Hand/Charles Latham/Dear Lara


Matt Jolly Photography on Facebook
Matt Jolly on Flickr

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