Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

Boomtown Rats…not quite like Clockwork!!

November 5, 2013

TW rats close

TW rats standing

Well they may  not like Mondays but I don’t like gigs that start way before they’re supposed to!!

The legendary Boomtown Rats were in town, touring following their big reunion at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival.  Leeds O2 and they’re on at nine, allegedly…! I rock up at eight to catch the support and think – that’s interesting, they sound very like the Boomtown Rats.  The penny drops, I dive in, pass in hand, no time to worry about the wide angle lens and fortunately I’ve only missed half a song.  My only consolation is that the house photographer is only just ahead of me and has also missed the support.

Not the best start, the light was shocking and I was concentrating so hard that I couldn’t even tell you if one of the first three songs was Clockwork, or Mondays or any of the other hits that carried the world through the seventies. What I can say is that at 62, and in his now trademark fake snakeskin, Bob Geldof has most definitely still got it.  He was in a happy smiley mood  and there was no ranting at least while I was there…not that we ever mind that. And judging by the audience there is still clearly a huge appetite for what the Rats have to offer.

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As for punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald, well I can only apologise for completely missing his set.  Apparently Patrik is oftentimes credited as the originator of ‘folk punk’ and his current album is called ‘subliminal alienation’ so like Bob he clearly remains a man with a message.  Just a pity he was delivering it at tea-time really.  If any of you did happen to catch the show  maybe you could send us a couple of snaps and a quick review…??


Carpe Diem for Alvarez Kings

October 8, 2013

Alvarez Kings

Alvarez Kings

Over the years I’ve got to know Sheffield indie rockers Alvarez Kings pretty well but since I moved to Leeds I’ve been pretty busy and, perhaps more significantly, they’ve been touring here, there and everywhere in their quest for world domination.  OK maybe not world domination but at least making a dent in a decent part of it.  They’re currently in the midst of the Vans Warped Tour which has taken them all over the US and now the UK so when I heard they were making a pit stop in Leeds I thought I’d best make time to see them, especially as the venue they were playing in is called Carpe Diem.

Come Saturday night a decent crowd of followers had found their way down into the cellar bar and on the face of it the band haven’t changed much in the way they perform. Still loads of energy and enthusiasm, great sound but keeping things interesting with the addition of backing tracks to a couple of the newer songs.

Alvarez Kings

I hopped onto the side of the stage to get in there with the action – when they’re all drumming its great to see – but got a bit more action than I bargained for. Paul does have a habit of swinging around  and as I looked up from the camera my face found out what slap bass actually feels like.  I thought it was hilarious but Paul was mortified and hugely apologetic.  Such are the risks of being a stage invader.

Alvarez Kings

It was great to have a proper catch-up in the pub and needless to say I stayed for the whole gig. With our Facebook connections sorted they were on their way again.  Next stop London and the ever so slightly grander Ally Pally.  Here’s hoping they get a warm welcome. Carpe Diem London!!

Alvarez Kings

Alvarez Kings



Day trippers

August 15, 2013

Annie farm

After all the excitement of Y Not? I was ready for a bit of down time. Amanda was staying up from London for the whole week, I’d just got a couple of jobs to sort out so we decided to go on a series of outings most of which involved shopping, drinking a lot of coffee, eating plenty of cake and walking around a fair bit….although probably not far enough, or fast enough, to compensate for the cake.

Hebden BridgeOn Monday and Tuesday we weren’t enormously adventurous – in fact Headingley was as far as we got.  On Wednesday though the weather was fine and I had a landscape architecture brief in Manchester so we hopped over there, did the job and then explored DoIt 2013 – an interactive  and ‘generative’ exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery.  Visitors are invited to play their part in building the exhibit.  Sadly no photography allowed so I can’t show you the extensive contribution Amanda and I made…

Clearly, as a photography blog this is not going well but never fear, come Thursday we made it to picturesque Hebden Bridge complete with marvellous canal, historic architecture and a very good veggie BLT in the park café.

Annie farm

Friday I needed to do some more horse images for my new website (coming soon) so it was off to Annie’s farm.  One of Annie’s ponies is through to a prestigious ‘best in class’ final (‘coloured ridden pony’ to be precise) at this year’s Horse of the Year Show. Not this one. This is Clown who was a wee bit camera shy but lovely nonetheless.

Annie farm

We also found time to catch up with the hand reared lambs who have really grown and are super friendly. I think they know I’m veggie.

Annie farm

And we had time to play with some double exposures – here’s one I made earlier.

Annie farm

And another looking through Amanda as she photographs some of the sheep.

The weekend rounded things off with a narrow boat trip from Leeds to Woodlesford – another cute village…cue blackberrying and more tea and cake.  It was brilliant to kick back for a week and I was sorry to see Amanda head off back to the big smoke…but realistically I probably need to lay off the carbs for a couple of weeks…

Hebden Bridge

All aboard…!

July 23, 2013

Dads 70th BirthdayI’m guessing if you asked the small boys of this generation what they’d like to do when they grow up it might well involve either gangsta rap, football or some other route to celebrity status.  Back in the day though the response was most commonly “train driver” and finally for his 70th birthday my dad has achieved that ambition, courtesy of a family whip round and the Great Central Railway.

Altogether there were seven of us on the platform in Loughborough, the start of the UK’s only mainline heritage railway. Only my dad and my brother were allowed to ride on the footplate of a steam train with the engine driver but for the rest of us (including my aunty’s stepson, who’d come over from Canada and is a massive, model buyinDads 70th Birthdayg enthusiast) it was a grand day out on a vintage electric train.

Alongside plenty of authentic paraphernalia from a bygone age the railway is populated with staff in period clothing.  Not that men’s clothing has changed all that much since the nineteen forties….just higher-waisted trousers really…flashing your undergarments wasn’t fashionable or practical in those days.  No under age workers up chimneys but there was one to clean out the ash that dropped into the pit under the fire.  Well-hydrated though. My dad had an amazing time and we all got a fantastic history lesson

Dads 70th BirthdayDads 70th Birthday

Dads 70th Birthday

on the line and the signals plus a decent lunch…well an omelette in my case and what my mum referred to as “windy beans” .  Whizzing through the villages taking pictures of anything and everything that took my fancy was really good fun and it was great to have some quality family time.

Dads 70th BirthdayDads 70th Birthday

As an extra special 70th surprise I took my dad to meet our newest family member.  I’ve adopted a donkey for  him at the sanctuary in Leeds.  My folks love donkeys.  See the family resemblance…no not the one in the middle…

Dads 70th Birthday

Model behaviour

May 30, 2013

Zara HollandNow while I may not be one of those photographers who’s constantly shuttling between runways in London, Paris, Milan and New York – and by runway I mean the toppling platforms not the tarmac variety – I have done my fair share of fashion.  It’s a mad world and not necessarily one I’d recommend to every wide-eyed, willowy 14 year old I come across.  However, these days there is so much more to modeling than that brief moment in the somewhere below size zero spotlight.  With a huge expansion in media channels, broadcast, social networking and other, brands have acres of airtime and online space to fill.  They’re always on the look-out for fresh new faces and with that comes a new photo opportunity for any aspiring models/actors who might fit the promotional brief and for creative professionals like me.

Chris Town

From my perspective behind the camera it’s an interesting prospect. Increasingly I’m being asked to deliver lifestyle shots for marketing campaigns and product portfolios,  getting much more involved in developing what’s commonly known as brand essence – building the relationship between a product and its target audience, through expression, emotion, colour, light, context.  Working closely with design agencies to get the look and feel of a shoot just right is really interesting and beyond all the creative training and portrait experience, at the business end of it I need my own team of talent to back me up.  Since I took up residence in the Tower I’ve built up a fantastic network of connections – make-up artists, stylists and models plus management peeps in some brilliant locations so when you’re after some creative context to bring your concept to life I know I can deliver at every level.

Emily Bell

I’m just about to shoot a new drinks campaign and actually can’t wait. In the thick of shot lists, wardrobe changes, model direction, props and set shifts I’m at my happiest.  Maybe it’s a control thing. Although of course there’s one thing I can’t control.  I’d best add large umbrellas to the budget.

Zara Holland


May 14, 2013


Leeds O2 showcases OMD.  It sounded promising.  I liked Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark  and back in the day – the early 1980s –  they were one of the coolest electronica bands around with huge hits like If you Leave me now and Enola Gay.  Of course the 80s isn’t really remembered as the decade of cool and I was only about 10 at the time so maybe the old rose tinted, reverse view goggles are playing their usual tricks.   Still, they’ve had loads of radio play and there was a big crowd in so…we were off to a good start.


As I got cracking with the shots I was initially concerned by the resemblance between lead Andy McCluskey and John Lydon of Sex Pistols and PIL.  Not an obvious fit and slightly scary.


Pretty soon though my pit mate Anthony and me could hardly take the pictures for laughing as they cranked it up and the freestyle dad dancing kicked in.  We were still doing the moves when we piled out onto the street after three tracks.  When I got back I thought I’ll check out some old vids to remind myself how cool they were but actually looking back you could see the signs…dad dancing in the making.  However, beyond all that they’re smart and funny, a lot of the songs are still full of intelligent social commentary, they still sound great and I have absolutely no doubt that the fans went home on a complete OMD high.  Certainly put me in a good mood….

Standing room only for James

April 30, 2013


Here we are again…Leeds O2..hanging around at the door. Do I have a pass? Yes.  Can I get in? No.  It’s a pass for the after-show and yet another cock up.  Never O2’s fault I have to say and they are always brilliant at sorting it out with band management, PR, whoever. When the right authorisation finally comes through I get in there just in time for support band Echo and the Bunnymen.  So I guess you’re wondering where are the pictures?  Well I could put one up but there’s not a lot to see as they performed in almost complete darkness.  Not sure if that was down to the technical team or maybe the band haven’t worn well over the years and prefer their lighting extra low.  Either way..nothing to show for it.


However, the mood was good and of course for those of us old enough to remember, today’s title refers to one of James’ most familiar songs ‘Sit Down’, which front man Tim Booth famously got so cheesed off with, for years he refused to perform it.  Beyond that though he’s the ultimate crowd pleaser, which probably accounts for the fact that there wasn’t much room to stand up, sit down or swing the proverbial cat in there.


They did a couple of songs on stage with Tim’s usual Catch me if you can hypnotic writhing and then he came down to Pit level to get closer to his fans.  I’ve known him to actually get in amongst them at previous gigs and there’s always a lot of hands-on, physical contact. In this instance though he settled for a one on one with some willing participant at the front.  They held hands through a whole song and at one point Tim was leaning backwards and forwards putting his whole weight on this poor chap from his perch above the barrier. All I could selfishly think was thank God there’s a spotlight on him.


I was supposed to leave after that but had to wait for this strange performance to finish with a post-coupling chat and big thanks from Tim for holding him up there.  Finally he walked past me and out of the way and I could leave James and their adoring crowd to their love-fest.  First hand holding then who knows…I didn’t stick around for the after show.  Apparently Tim has a penchant for snakes.  He’s drawn to them and they’re drawn to him.  Must be the dancing.

Saturday night at the Leadmill..

April 23, 2013


Last week I got an invitation from my mate James to cover Saturday night at the Leadmill. James is a roadie with Reverend and the makers. Right now he’s also looking after Sheffield band Liberty Ship who are currently on tour with one of our favourite blog regulars King Charles. I know you love to know how I end up at some of these gigs so there you go – James, Reverend, Liberty Ship, Leadmill, King Charles.


I got there during the sound check and said hi to King Charles.  Over the last couple of years their popularity has grown and grown and when the doors opened on Saturday there was a huge surge for the front spot and people stayed there, through two supports, for the entire gig.

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Liberty Ship turned out to be a lovely bunch of lads, big cheesy grins telling the story that they were so happy to be there.  I was obviously concentrating on getting the shots but it was impossible to ignore the fact that this was literally a family affair with proud mums and dads and even grandparents in the audience.

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Charles clearly has a lot of time for them, showing his support from the side of the stage through the whole of their set.


There was a brilliant atmosphere all night. King Charles got a rapturous reception, and while they didn’t quite get the stage invasion of the previous night at Leeds Cockpit the endless declarations of “I love you” were probably preferable.  Main stage at the Leadmill is still a pretty big deal and as always, they rocked it.

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At the end of the set they got Liberty Ship back on stage for a final number and then went off for an ‘after show’ where parents weren’t invited.  I was tempted but still had work to do so headed home.  5am finish apparently.  I have no regrets.  Cheers James – a brilliant night and Liberty Ship are definitely one to watch.

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Biffy’s here and Skin’s back!

March 28, 2013


It’s gig night and it’s snowing. So what’s new? Although I do vaguely remember being in short sleeves and shades this time last year. I cadged a lift to the Motorpoint Arena picked up my pass and found my spot early enough to sample the support. City and Colour aka Canadian singer songwriter Dallas Green and his mates delivered a quality mix of folk and acoustic rock which set me up nicely for the main event.


Biffy Clyro also did me a favour by coming on early at 8.30. It’s always nice to make a swift exit so I can get the shots turned around.  Talking of which I was really pleased with my Biffy shots, many of which feature lead Simon Neil’s lacy trues….of course I mean trousers but the band is from Scotland and they were pretty special, with a lace overlay rather like your granny’s net curtains…am I spending too long critiquing Simon’s nether regions…??


RTN_B2865_Biffy_ClyroThe gig wasn’t quite sold out but then people will get another go at Biffy this summer at Leeds Festival when hopefully it won’t be snowing…but who knows!!

Next up Skunk Anansie at Leeds O2.  I wasn’t on the list there, again, much to the amusement of the manageress.  Between her and the tour manager they sorted it (years of working the scene have finally paid off) and I squeezed into the pit, which was packed, again, with eight photographers.


RTN_B2865_Skunk_AnansieLead singer Skin was really giving it some as she worked that Grace Jones look, so much so that in the typically awful light it was difficult to catch her.  As for the audience, well the promoter commented there were more photographers than punters. A bit of an exaggeration I thought and by the time I came up for air they weren’t quite so thin on the ground. And let’s face it, the band are probably just glad to be performing…or alive even.  They survived the hurricane that hit Pukkelpop in Belgium while they were on stage in 2011.   I’ll stop talking about the weather soon. Honestly.

Kelly’s Heroes..

March 21, 2013

RTN_B2865_StereophonicsThe Stereophonics at Leeds O2. Let’s face it there are worse ways to spend a Monday night although the experience was far from perfect. There probably was some kind of support but it took so long to get the release form signed to get into the gig they were long gone before I got there. The pit was full to Indiana Jones snake level, eight of us jockeying for position and the O2 lighting was at an all time low.  The venue was also rammed, not surprising really as the whole tour’s sold out, from Blackpool to Cheltenham and everything in between.  After twenty years on the road the band from Wales and are as popular as ever.

RTN_B2865_StereophonicsCritical support for the Stereophonics may be luke warm but you just can’t escape the fact that they deliver a great performance, consistently knocking out memorable songs and with a soulful lead vocal that maybe reflects all that Welsh valleys heritage.  The reception in Leeds bodes well for their latest album, Graffiti on the Train and I for one was happy to be there.  As the classic A Thousand Trees rolls out, the light falls briefly on Kelly Jones, I manage to snatch a couple of decent shots and that’s it. Game over!

However, this year there will be many more opportunities to get your Stereophonics fix.  They’re doing T in the Park and V festivals  in the summer and in November they’ll be back in Leeds, bigger, and hopefully with better lighting, on a UK arena tour.  Leeds Arena…not long to go now!