The first concert I attended, was that of Sunn O))). Admittedly, I wasn't really there of my own accord. Rather, my curiosity get the better of me due to the conviction of a number of die-hard AB-ers. They were full of the fact that you really had to have 'experienced' this band live. “No problem”, I thought, “with my tailor-made earplugs I'll be able to survive an aural attack”, to which the immediate reply was that I should be more worried about my intestines ... Thus wide-eyed and nervous I took my position in the front row and hoped that the concert wouldn't turn out to be a more acute version of 'active bifidus'...
The vexingly loud and low guitar drones that Sunn O))) let loose upon the audience were indeed a physical assault. I was literally gasping for air during the first song, but fortunately that claustrophobic feeling gradually ebbed away. I also got what people had predicted in a photographic sense too: apparitions cloaked in monks habits and a thick mass of smoke. I'm not that keen on misty photos, and was even less keen on the concert, but it was an interesting experience and my digestive system is still working!
The following day was also themed by experimentation and noise but then served up by Sonic Youth. No longer so youthful but, as such, a well-established alternative rock name. The band has a cast-iron live reputation and so was I hoping that this concert would result in a number of spectacular rock photos. Whether playing a series of hits or only drawing on their more recent work, they always know how to put down a sturdy sound. Their performance didn't exude the hoped-for power that I look for in my concert photos though.
A week later, I decided to let myself be surprised by Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar's cross-over Balkan music. No sound explosions this time, but certainly a band that lights the fuse and knows how to get a whole hall dancing in no time. Basically: Fireworks! An expressive frontman, energetic musicians, nice colourful lighting and an exuberant audience… all the necessary ingredients for a successful concert and likewise photos.
The next day I was to be found in the AB once again, this time for the White Lies concert.
However, fatigue had set in and so this was only a whirlwind visit. When averaging two to three concerts per week, sometimes the call of a good night's rest is louder than that of musical entertainment. I polished my lens after photographing three songs, and apparently I wasn't the only one with the same idea. My ‘mentor’ Alex Vanhee also caught the train to Ghent and so we filled each other's otherwise boring train trip with an enjoyable chat about photography, music and film.
An evening of editing photos and a refreshing night's rest later, I skipped the ‘trick or treat’-ing and chose to fill my Halloween evening musically under the wings of Bat For Lashes. Frontwoman Natasha Khan and her musicians wound the audience around their little finger without any effort at all. With few tricks, they provided the sold-out AB with ‘a big treat’. The thirty-year-old singer possesses quite a few useful attributes: a fantastic voice, an attractive personality and the disarmingly natural presence with which she appears on stage. Moreover, she is assisted live by brilliant musicians, of which lady-drummer Sarah Jones makes an especially imposing impression.
I've not yet decided what to ask for for Christmas. A full-frame camera with a 70-200mm and 24-70mm lens, so that I can even better immortalise such musical highlights. Or the complete Bat For Lashes discography.
Something makes me suspect that I've got more chance of success with the second option…