Sunday, August 30, 2009

Def Leppard + Poison @ Cricket Pavilion

I've always sort of been a Def Leppard fan. Any time a "Pour Some Sugar On Me" comes on the radio I crank it up. I was ready to be 80's rocked last night for the Def Leppard and Poison show. I think I was pretty adequately rocked too.

I've said it before, but at some shows 'getting the shot' is difficult, making listening to the show is tough. I could hear enough to know that it was a good show, however. I'm not super familiar with Poison, having only just been born in the 80's, but they rocked it. The crowd was absolutely into it.

Bret Michaels could still reel in the crowd and C.C. DeVille could still shred the solos. If piles of female undergarments are any gauge of a good rock show, this one rocked pretty hard. (see pic below)

When Def Leppard came on stage, I was pretty excited. Seeing Rick Allen atop the drum riser, fist raised in the air, ready to rock some faces off, the crowd roared. By the time I saw Joe Elliot and Phil Collen, I was torn between wanting to watch the show and wanting to photograph. (that wasn't a pun)

I was surprised at how together the band was. I had some fears they might not be as solid as they once were, but from what I could hear I can't knock em. I didn't notice any missed notes on Elliot's part, or any flubbed guitar licks by Collen. I would have really enjoyed watching this show. I especially regret missing a chance to hear "Love Bites" live. A personal favorite. It might be cheesy by today's standards, but there are some interesting musical devices and changes in that song that I appreciate.

Guitar players with no shirts on has never looked cool to me... a straight man... but I think when it comes to Phil Collen, you pretty much expect it. I wonder what he does when they tour Russia?

All in all, shooting conditions were pretty manageable. The stage was high, with lots of floor monitors, making it difficult to get the epic, centered wide angle shots I love... but I got what I could get. There was a long cat walk, and the photogs weren't allowed to shoot from that section... which meant no changing sides. You take what you can get.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Green Day @ US Airways Center

I was not one of those kids (melodramatic fools) in the 90's who bought the Dookie album. I actually used to tease my friends who listened to it. It wasn't until later that I got into Green Day's music. Actually, I've still never bought an album, but I've borrowed and copied albums, and am pretty familiar with their work. I still find it amazing how they managed to survive the 90's, while a lot of their contemporaries couldn't. Playing US Airways Center really proves just how well they've survived it. They've managed to stay relevant to old listeners while even nabbing the young kids attention while they're at it. They've grown into a sort of American convention, the foremost easy-to-swallow punk band.

While I still enjoy the older songs and respect the band, they've sort of alienated me with "American Idiot". I understand there is a killing to be made in Bush-bashing, and a lot of people share their feelings... but one thing I can't stand is the flagrant use of politics in music. That's really the one thing that puts me off Green Day. But I'm not so shallow that I won't enjoy their other music, I just choose not to listen to those songs. And for the 2 songs I got to hear live, I had a great time.

I just barely got this gig... my editor at the New Times wanted to shoot this show pretty badly, but luckily for me, had a last minute plan change. The show was great! Sure, other writers have given them flack for their 'predictable' performance... running into the crowd, letting people strum their guitars, yelling the city name, getting a girl up on stage and letting her kiss Billie on the mouth... but you know, for people who aren't tired and crusty old veterans of rock concerts, these are the things that make those fan's life. These kinds of shows are epic, even from the back row. The girl I saw get plucked from the front and centre of the pit and brought on stage hugged, kissed, and got to talk to Billie Joe on stage AT THE CONCERT, in front of all her friends, in front of 20,000 people, in front of a mess of photographers, then Billie made her stage dive into the crowd. That girl will never forget this concert. Plus, it cost Green Day nothing to do it. I think more bands need to think about the fans more when they plan their shows. Maybe THIS is why Green Day are still kicking? Hmm hmm...

From the photog point of view... it was a pretty easy shoot. The lights were good... not all of the screens were on while we were shooting, which would have made the pics a little cooler... but the second song "Know Your Enemy" was extended into a 10 minute or so jam/audience participation song. So we got to take our time shooting. Again I had my trusty and brilliant Canon 5D MkII, my 20D old standby, and I swapped my 17-40mm f4 and a 100-400mm between the both. I got a wide spectrum of range, and I think, got some pretty great shots. This was a big show. Definitely a pic or two for the old portfolio.

Green Day's opener for this show was the fantastic Franz Ferdinand from Scotland. This is a band that I keep getting exposed to, and I tend to like them a little more each time. They put on a great a show, and seemed to please the audience.

Their sort of quirky pop alternative sound is appealing to me. It's just slightly different from everyone else, and it's got an air of fun and humor to it. I shot them first at Coachella, and they were great there. I hope they can keep it going!

PS. While waiting for the show to start, Tara Hitchcock (News Channel 3) walked in. She was kind enough to stand for a pic with me and a fellow photo. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lil Wayne @ Cricket Pavilion

It's been a busy week, so my posting got held up... but I managed a little time to throw up a few pics from the Lil Wayne show.

Going in to this, I've had yet to be thoroughly impressed at a rap show. Normally, it's just a dude rapping to a pre-recorded tape, a guy scratching records on top of that, and 25 other guys acting as the 'posse' on stage occasionally yelling "yea" into a microphone. It also didn't help that the photogs were told we'd be shooting from the sound board at Cricket Pavilion... which is a lengthy throw.

But as fate, or something, would have it, I was a little surprised... there was quite a bit of production value for this show. There was a band set up, dancers, and minimal posse. I guess I didn't put it together before, but most rap shows in Phoenix take place at the Celebrity Theatre... a 2000+ capacity venue. But Lil Wayne was playing Cricket... a 20,000+ capacity amphitheater. This was definitely a different ordeal. Too bad we weren't allowed to shoot up front.

I used both my 5d MkII and my 20d for this shoot. At first I strapped the 100-400mm to the 5D, and my 28-105mm to my 20D... and half way through I swapped. Switching from a full frame sensor to a 1.6x crop meant I got a huge range out of the lenses. I suppose, with the resolution of the 5D I could have just cropped the photos... but thats not something I like doing.