Friday, March 27, 2009

Billy Joel / Elton John @ US Airways Center

Wow. This was a pretty big deal. This had the makings of a big show. I was excited to shoot, even tho we'd be shooting from the middle of the arena... I figured there'd be some good lighting. I didn't know what to expect. Billy and Sir Elton walk out, shake hands, hug, and say hello under a cascade of spot lights, then go sit down at their respective pianos. Essentially, as soon as they sat down, the lights dimmed to just spot lights on the singer/songwriters... and nothing else. This made shooting difficult, and shooting anything "interesting" basically impossible. The thing is... spot lights are just that... basically, all the camera will see is what is under the spot light. So that meant, not even the piano would show up in the pictures... since there was no light on them. But I suppose you could say it was just supposed to be about THEM... and nothing else.

That said, for the 2 songs I got to sort-of hear while I scrounged for shots... they put on a good show. They took turns singing each others hits "Your Song" and "Just The Way You Are." If I recall correctly, Billy sang the first few lines of "Your Song" and Sir Elton sang the first few of "Just The Way You Are" which made the crowd quietly erupt when they eventually sang their own lines. (Boy, that's confusing)

In a nut shell, the crowd was quite happy. Well, except for the people who were yelling at the photographers for having to stand up in front of them. I mean, who STANDS UP at a concert!!?? One photog apparently got punched in the back and was told to "sit the F down!" Classy. At a Billy Joel/Elton John show?? Really? The most negative response I ever received was an empty plastic beer bottle thrown at me while shooting Hatebreed. Well, that and being spit on by Slash. But some people would write a book about a thing like that.

All in all, without the 100-400mm and extra camera body I borrowed, I would have been pretty empty handed after this show. I still don't fully understand why certain performers don't put on an entertaining light show when they are being photographed. I mean, I could see them on the screen in the lobby when I was leaving... the show looked great! Me and another photog were joking about taking pictures of the TV screen just to have something more interesting to show!

Lastly, I thought I'd post a pic of the 'holding cell' where the photographers are kept before and during the show. This is where we flex our muscles and try to psych each other out.

PS. If your name happens to be Mike Vallone, click here.

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