Just uploaded a series of shots from the concert to my music photography tumblr site. If you’re a fan, I suggest a visit: http://seanhayesmusicphotography.tumblr.com
I remember seeing Simple Minds straight off the boat from Scotland at the SFX theatre in Dublin circa 1979. Kerr seemed shy and retiring. Still hadn’t found his ebullient stage persona. Then followed them into superstardom with an amazing concert at the Phoenix Park Racecourse Dublin in ’83. Blew me away – best band of the day. And they had competition; U2, Eurythmics, Big Country, Steel Pulse. The concert sound mixers did a great job in retaining the musicality of the nascent stadium anthems off their New Gold Dream album. Sound was pure and nuanced. Caught them again at various venues in Paris and Brussels during the late 80s and 90s. They were awful supporting the Stones at Wechter Belgium 1998 (Nobody’s perfect:). Then back to Brussels in 2010 and again last Sunday night in Antwerp. Simple Minds are very much alive and kicking after more than 30 years of writing, recording and performing some of the best music in Rock ‘n’ Roll. You probably guessing I’m a huge fan. And you’d be right:)
The majestic Mister Weller in concert. Ancienne Belgique. Brussels April 2015. For more images, please visit my site. Sean On Stage Photography.
While reviewing this collection of album cover portraits (see link), I noticed one possible criteria for selection that was completely absent: one of technical excellence. Dylan’s portrait for his “Blond on Blond” album, for example, is a photograph with “camera shake” – usually the bane of many a photographer when the camera or subject (or both) are moving in unison with a slow shutter speed. These photographs usually get binned. Nevertheless, this photo has succeed in becoming part of the iconic vocabulary of modern music. In this day and age where precision and rationality are venerated – and have the technology to deliver it – we are in danger of forgetting why things “work” and why they don’t. Perfection doesn’t work. Perfection rarely interests people. It’s boring. Like music itself, it’s the seemingly random empty spaces between notes that confers harmony and emotion and not only the perfect notes themselves. Photographers don’t need to be perfect technicians to make great photographs – they need to be able to capture images that convey emotion with sublime subjectivity. The best photographers are usually humanists. They understand that life is messy (like this poorly written piece) and transient and create work that celebrates this fact rather than trying to ‘perfect’ it.
Rock ‘n’ Roll and photography are made for each other. My early visual education was informed and inspired by music photography commissioned by the NME – a British music journalism magazine that had its heyday during the emerging punk period in the late 70s. Along with incisive and intelligent writing from Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons, the magazine also hired “hip young gunslingers” to take the photos. Photographers like Anton Corbijn and Pennie Smith, who shot the famous photo of The Clash’s Paul Simonon smashing his guitar on stage. Smith’s iconic photo went on to appear as the cover album art for The Clash’s seminal “London Calling”. Rumour has it that the NME is on its last legs. A “victim” of the irrepressible digital onslaught? I think not. Like many creative endeavours today, we’ve all forgotten what makes something interesting, something compelling. NME will probably crash and burn as a result of pandering to market research “experts”. Like politicians who have nothing to say, creative people are also asking the market what they want to see and hear. All we want is to hear and look at is something that has soul. A point of view that challenges how we perceive things. Something that isn’t boring. Too much to ask?