Posts Tagged ‘O2 Academy’

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.

TW rats close 2

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…??



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.

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!

Early wake up call..

March 14, 2013


I was getting quite worried as I waited for the Alarm to come on at Leeds O2 this week. No support and at 8.15 the venue was disappointingly empty. By the time the band arrived on stage though (very early 8.30 start) a respectable crowd had assembled.


Whatever muso critics may have said about the Alarm over the years their fans have always been a loyal bunch.  Originally more punk than rock they started out in North Wales as The Toilets but they’re certainly a lot more charismatic and charming than that name might suggest.


Thirty years later, with worldwide sales in excess of five million and 16 top 50 singles I think they can afford to be quietly pleased with themselves and as the gig got going there were plenty of smiles up there, particularly when they spotted a blonde photographer in the pit wearing a loud pink cardi.


The only original member of the line-up is lead Mike Peters, who also fronts Big Country these days, and this year’s tour coincides with the release of Vinyl, a feature film based on Mike’s “true rock n roll hoax of 2004”. A group of fairly washed up rockers get a new lease of life through a brilliant new single launched under a fictitious band name which they then proceed to populate with a bunch of fairly talentless youngsters.  Clearly this is a mild dig at today’s recording industry but like my recent experience of the Alarm I’m sure its delivered with good humour.  That’s the great thing about aging – less angst and cool self-awareness and more fun.   Thank God there’s an upside!

Deep Joy in a blog double…

February 28, 2013


So a couple of weeks back we featured Little Green Cars and this week we start with the Cortinas…. no, my mistake I don’t mean the 1970s. Bristol. punk band named after everyone’s favourite Ford, I mean the Courteeners, a Manchester band who are quite popular, judging by the packed house at Leeds O2 last Friday.

I’ve photographed them before but had possibly forgotten that they attract a particularly young male crowd fond of beer chucking.  Most of my pit colleagues were sporting stylish hoodies.  I only wish I’d done the same but I did manage to escape with just one small shower and generally the Courteeners left a decent impression.


Double gig helpings this week and on Monday I was at the Cockpit to see The Joy Formidable.  Last time I saw them they were at the O2, this time the gig was smaller, more intimate, no barriers between them and us and it really worked.


Formed in North Wales in 2007 the Joy Formidable perform with tons of energy and that gets thrown back at them by their fans.  There’s a fantastic vibe, lots of good natured banter between the band, and lead Ritzy Bryan’s performance is loaded with wide-eyes expression.

“Its lovely to be back here”‘ she announces, “the crowd here is always amazing”.  And it really was.  Sold out aRTN_B2865_The_Joy_Formidablend completely bought into the whole thing.  If I’m honest I’d been thinking well…I’ve done them at bigger venues, will it be worth it?  All I can say is yes, yes, yes it totally was.  Really amazing and I stayed and stayed.  Next stop for The Joy Formidable – supporting Muse on their forthcoming Arena tour.   I’d best put in for my pass!

Kerrang hardcore pipe and slippers

February 21, 2013


How rock’n’roll am I.  It’s Sheffield and there’s a blizzard so I’m worried about getting to the O2 for the Kerrang tour gig. Where are those wellies?? My lift wants to go for tea en route and since he’s paying how can I complain?  So I arrive a wee bit later than planned, full of pasta, more ready for the sofa than the pit scrum and with strict instructions to be ready for pick-up at 10pm.  I’ve not had a 10pm curfew since I was 15 and on a school night.

RTN_B2865_ChiodosAnyhow we got there in the end and bearing in mind my last gig had been the Military Wives I was looking forward to some hardcore rock.  Support band  Chiodos are actually described as ‘post hardcore’ but beggars can’t be choosers, I have no idea what that means and listening to Chee-oh-dose, as it’s apparently pronounced, I can’t tell the difference anyway. Lead Craig Owens looks a bit like Kurt Cobain.  Sadly that’s where the resemblance ends.  However, I thought there was a lot to like about them.  They did a great job getting the crowd going and pretty soon everyone’s hands were in the air.


I’d been warned there might be a sizable computer stack and monitor on stage behind Black Veil Brides and sure enough, there it was, lurking beyond  the drum kit. As they got going I wondered if it the stack was actually generating a hefty backing track and sure enough, when things ground to a halt half way through the first song and a worried band gathered round the monitor it was all over for me.  The singer disappeared off stage leaving the drummer to fill and then it was time for me to rejoin my chaperone.  Not your average rock gig then and all things considered it’s a wonder I got any pictures.   Time for cocoa.


ps. Here’s to Kurt who would have been 46 this week.

Jake Bugg – a classic at 19

February 7, 2013


Anyone catch Jake Bugg on R2?  Good stuff and his lowkey Nottingham drawl was a brilliant antidote to Chris Evans’ overly chipper chat. Jake uploaded one of his songs via BBC Introducing, a DJ played it and now, at 19, he’s become an overnight phenomenon and the hottest ticket in town.

I know this because no less than 12 photographers applied for access to the O2 Academy for the Leeds leg of his tour and I actually had to blag my way in.


Inspired by everyone from Buddy Holly to the Beatles and Hendrix, the Jake Bugg sound, almost Americana meets the Arctic Monkeys, is unexpectedly mature and the songs are just beautifully crafted.  Truth be told this king of music’s not normally my bag but you just can’t fail to be impressed really.  There’s no ego to get in the way and he’s no different on stage than when I met him in the summer at the YNot Festival, still giddy about going off to support Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.  The charisma’s there though and that really translates down the lens.

So now Jake is the one with support – Little Green Cars and Hudson Taylor – and between them they make for a phenomenal show.  Great musicians, lovely voices, youthful energy.  What’s not to like? So if you get chance go see them on another leg of the tour (you’ll be lucky – it’s rapidly selling out) or at least have a listen to the R2 interview on iplayer.  As it says on the link – “We’ve caught the Bugg….”.  And you thought I was cheesy…


A little Faith – a lot of love..

January 29, 2013


If you like your women gorgeous, quirky, stylish and with buckets of talent then this week’s blog and the current Paloma Faith tour are definitely for you.  Supported by Josephine, Paloma was at the Leeds O2 last Sunday and the whole evening turned out to be a feast for the ears and eyes. Fortunately mine have just about recovered from last week’s Peter Andre gig.

Our two divas were definitely on common ground.  A singer songwriter from Manchester Josephine is also strong on image and with a voice that similarly harks back to some of the great vocal talents of the past from Billie Holiday to Cilla Black.


Work with me here…I know you wouldn’t normally mention the pair of them in the same breath but the Josephine sound is kind of cool but retro and she also belts out the numbers including her latest single. Portrait is all about social media and the need to constantly promote yourself…I know the feeling.  It’s a great song, getting lots of airplay on R2 and I have no doubt Josephine will do great things.


Back with Paloma, as she took to the stage it was all about the fans…no not those fans…although they certainly weren’t neglected.  Paloma is obviously big on design and we were asked not to take pictures in the first number as she was wielding some enormous fans, a theme which carried through into the rest of the show.


Between songs I could hear people shouting “We love you..” and it was a really emotional gig.  I love the fact that in life she clearly doesn’t take herself seriously but when she’s performing she’s completely in the zone.  Hugely powerful voice, full of passion and at times almost on the verge of tears.   There are other people on stage – backing singers and musicians – but you really can’t take your eyes off Paloma.

The lighting throughout was fantastic, the mood in the pit was good and people really loved the show.  I spotted this tweet on Josephine’s site and couldn’t agree more with Amy_Morton.

Oh my god…what am amazing night! @Palomafaith was awesome, like so mint, supported by @thisisjosephine!! they were fab!! 😀

Social networking clearly isn’t all bad…