Where have the first 3 months of the year gone, wow they really have flown in. On a personal level, I’ve made it to a decent number of gigs, managed to shoot roughly 50% of those and a lot more in the pipeline, on the downside, have missed a couple of shows due to ill health, which is never any fun, and have been extremely over tired of late, which definitely doesn’t lead to a good place.
Since returning from this years excellent HRH AOR VII festival which took place in Prestatyn it’s just been crazy, not much time to get anything done. Have got the photos pretty much finished, and just have to plough through some of the review and finish up a review of The Ocean Collective show in Dublin last week, and as soon as that’s done there are more albums, but so so many gigs getting announced at the moment it’s unreal. It doesn’t matter who you are, as you age it becomes more and more difficult to get to as much as you want to, and even then it’s difficult to organise work/home/gigs, that balance is becoming impossible, so this year I’m getting to absolutely as much as I can and next year may be very quiet.
So with new shows just added to my own list for Machine Head, and a number of bands later in the year I’ve found I’m also adding stuff in the near future I didn’t think I could get to, so looking now like Jizzy Pearl and Mike Tramp in Ahoghill next month, and also with a work trip to London next month I’ve managed to schedule an Avantaisa gig, so happy days. Tonight it’s my first chance to get to see Cellar Darling, should be an interesting set. with support from another new band to me, Appearance of Nothing.
Next wee it’s a triple header, Dead Label in Dublin on Friday night (with some great supports), Jizzy Pearly in Ballymena on Sat and hopefully The Black Dahlia Murder on Sunday back in Dublin…….then it’s just a week to HRH Blues in Sheffield and the previously mentioned Avantasia in London…..all of fun and lots of hard work ahead……..
Ana Popovic with Ben Poole supporting kicks into May with another London trip, along with Cormac Neeson’s solo show in Dublin and Whiskey Myers. June is mental, July starting to fill up now, August sees Bloodstock, the Bash and HRH Sleaze III straddles August into September. Rocktober is building up and as always November/December will busy.
Yes I’m flying, 2 added this week, the latest one once again for Rockposer.com of the superb new Elles Bailey album Road I Call Home which you should most definitely have a listen to.
Link now added to the Reviews Page – click here or the album cover below
Elles begins here UK/Irl Tour this coming weekend and is in Whelan’s in Dublin next Thursday night 7th Mar 2019, well worth going to see if you can make any of the dates.
Busy times ahead, going to try and shoot some local bands this weekend, Elles on Thursday, off to see Tyketto in Nottingham next Sat night and then HRH AOR VII, wow that has come around quickly, preview of that event will be up today or tomorrow I hope. Will once again be doing what I said I wouldn’t do again and shooting + reviewing HRH AOR/Blues/Sleaze this year…….and Amplified in July if I can.
March busy, April sees HRH Blues and then we kick in towards a hectic summer, a couple of early nights are needed to keep the head clear and the mind functioning 😉 It’s very easy to start working on too much and let the mind get overloaded, then you just can’t get anywhere or anything done – have already had far too many nights at home just sitting there and not able to do anything created or not, will definitely get more done this year, and have to keep an eye on the sleep too, reality is I think I’m getting 4-5 hours a night at the moment, and while that’s ok for a while, long term it will end with me hitting the floor/ground somewhere, and that would not be fun. Everything in moderation 😉
Finally, after a few unscheduled changes, bloody flu, and a rather bad start to the year which has seen friends lose those near and dear it is time I got out and went to a gig. First on my calendar was a trip to London the weekend before last to catch a 5 band lineup at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, one of the few venues I’ve not attended there This time around there are some bands I was lucky enough to shoot last year at different Festivals, but this time around it’s just a fun trip. Just took a long a little point & click camera for some momentos.
It was an absolutely cracking night and I have to say Skid Row have improved so much with ZP in just 10 months since HRHAOR last March, they look lean and hungry and sound a lot better too, which is great. But the lineup overall tonight was very strong, sadly due to a stupid mistake on my part I was delayed getting in and only managed to catch the end of the Killit set, but there was certainly enough there to make me want to see these guys again, so until next time. Next up were the always excellent VEGA, and once again the guys played a really good set, one hard working band and as always a very energetic Nick Workman led the band through a set that got people moving.
Having not seen HEAT for quite a while I was really looking forward to catching them again, and in reality them being on the bill was a major reason for the trip, and as always they just don’t disappoint, the energy of frontman Erik Grönwall is just so infectious you just can’t help wanting to move along with him. Cracking set, with tracks from the most recent release Into The Great Unknown, and the newer tracks sounded great, especially kicking off with “Bastard Of Society” which set a marker for rest of the set.
The set is made up of not only new songs but great tracks like “Breaking The Silence”, “Living On The Run” and what is now a definite in the set “Mannequin Show”, this band are still on the rise, and live they are just always spectacular. The amount of people on the floor now during this set has dramatically increased as we move towards the last two bands of the night.
The penultimate band on the show tonight are none other than Sweden’s very own Backyard Babies, these guys were really excellent headlining HRH Sleaze back in September last year, tonight they working through the difficulty of Nicke being down with flu, but the show must go on and these guys are still determined to give the crowd all they can, and nobody can ever ask for more. They are not all about tricks and gimmicks, sound very different from everyone else playing tonight and I really enjoyed this set. I guess they had to change up the Set a bit and tracks like “A Song For The Outcast” are great to hear. It is certainly not easy for any singer to be on top form when under the weather, but he worked his way through the set very ably and managed to turn in a very good performance with a slightly different set containing perhaps some of the less upbeat BB songs, but no less entertaining and a really good lead into the Headliners, hopefully we will see these guys back again really soon, could certainly never be thrown in the same pigeon hole as so many other rock bands, their music contains so many different elements, mixing electric and acoustic brilliantly, with songs that tell stories, love them or hate them we need more bands like the Backyard Babies.
And then it was time for the Headliners, a band I’d only seen 10 months previously at HRH AOR 6, and this performance all around was so much better, the guys are looking lean and mean and were just so up for it. The guys are on top form and just powered their way through, with big guns right from the start, opening up with a monster version of “Slave To The Grind” and just running like a freight train through a set littered with their classic hits, slowing things down here and there with “18 And Life” the beautiful “I Remember You” with a massive crowd sing along.
As mentioned I’d seen the band headlining at HRH AOR last March, and to me although it was a good set, here and there it dipped a bit and ZP’s vocals were certainly not as powerful in the 2nd half of that set, no such issues here start to finish this was full on and the crowd could see how much effort has been going into this. Tonight we get a haunting version of “In A Darkend Room” that somehow managed to fit perfectly with the rest of the set, and this show is a massive success, great response from a full house, a band absolutely loving themselves, brilliant to see, with a new album in the works there is plenty to come from these guys, and they can only finish the tonight on one song, “Youth Gone Wild” and they absolutely smash it, a great trip away in a cold and rainy January, this warms the heart and lifts me to push forward for the rest of the year, got for the mind, if not always the body.
Last weekend it was back to the UK for a trip to Birmingham to catch the mighty King King being supported by the wonderful Sari Schorr, check out my review of the night here – King King – Town Hall, Birmingham – 01-02-2019 – and it really was a cracking night all around.
This weekend hopefully will be shooting Behemoth in Dublin, this will be a special show, Sold Out in Vicar Street has seen both the band and the Promoter (DME Promotions) come a long way since their first show here. Still more gigs being added every couple of days, and all the time having to try and keep my Brain functioning better and stave off being overtired (the storm outside will not help that this evening. But grabbing sleep where I can, trying to avoid putting anymore stress on top of what is already there. Hopefully this weekend blows some of the cobwebs away and we get back on track for the many shows ahead.
I’m pretty open about things in life, and I’m not always sure that it is such a good thing, but at the same time it’s better than being so closed off that nobody on the planet knows who you are, and from a Mental perspective it can definitely help when you aren’t completely isolated in your own head, so talking to people about some of the difficulties of trying to look after your mother and when your little boy needs a little more attention than others has helped me not go over the deep edge in the last month, but it’s definitely been touch and go at times. Stress levels through the roof, not sleeping, generally feeling crap, but I’ve decided to still call this week part of last year as it contained a day – next week we start afresh, got to start getting into work for 7am and out at 4 again, it won’t be easy to get back into that rhythm of early mornings again, but it’s getting too difficult to get from work, to mams and home again before my wife goes to work, change the times and reduce some of the stress…….. have to get a family holiday in the mix too, and this time around on the Wild Atlantic Way we are planning to finish off County Donegal and finally get a look at the famous cliffs at Slieve League, they look amazing, so camera will be brought along and we will see if we can catch some birds, wildlife, butterflies insects anything really around the cliffs too, a bit of nature certainly won’t hurt us, maybe even another trip later in the year if we can stretch to it.
So it being early January, Christmas done and dusted and the Gig/Festival list for 2019 damn full already for someone who’s time isn’t really his own, it’s Logistics time, when planning travel to a show or a Festival it’s not all about the Flight prices, a lot of the time it’s about making things work, Flying to a different Airport because it’s cheaper and you have to get a Train/Bus anyway, or flying into one place and out another because you have more flight options on the way back. So far I’m already bringing on the madness certainly for one show in March, where I’m staying in East Midlands Airport after a show in Nottingham and getting the 6:30am return flight to Dublin, but hey one more time on the red eye won’t kill me – will it ?
Flight out to a Fest in March sorted, but the flight back is causing me a lot of stress, flying back on St. Patricks Day to Dublin really shouldn’t be a big deal, especially as it’s a Sunday, but apparently it is and all Airlines have hiked up the prices very significantly, but looks like I’ll just have to bite the bullet and take the hit, but it’s very annoying…….the extra money for a single flight would pay for return flights for another show., but there has to be some reason for it as flights from other UK Airports on the same day are not really expensive, if you can figure out the weird combination of prices that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks you are a better person than me, seeing a hotel that you stayed in last April for more than double the price is mindboggling……….. And initially planning to go to just one day of Bloodstock next year, but bloody hell, with bands I really want to see Friday and Sunday it’s gotta be a weekend, Fri-Sunday anyway, ticket bought more planning to do. Might try and get an Arena Photo Pass this time around. Would love to have the Privilege of shooting a Festival I really love. Also hoping to get to Amplified for the first time this year, with the people that I know involved with the Festival and the good things I’ve heard it sounds right up my street, and I love the lineup too 😉
This coming year will certainly be the last that I will be able to make a decent number of Festivals, more time will be taken up with family, and I think by the time those situations change I will certainly be retired from the perspective of hitting 6-7 Fests a year, even if my own health holds up, age will eventually take it’s toll on top of everything else, but until then full steam ahead. On top of that I’m hoping to get to shoot a lot more smaller local shows this year, get back to Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Heats which start on Jan 19th. If all goes to plan it should be a very interesting, busy and rewarding year so time to light the touchpaper.
Although it’s been a very slow year for me personally on the the review side of things, I’ve already submitted a couple of Top 10’s for 2018. My state of mind as it has been I tend to have some different albums in different Top 10’s, just depends on perhaps there is something that slipped my mind between one and another, and depending on the Outlet too some might be all AOR, all Metal or a mix.
It wasn’t until I started looking again that there was an obvious omission from my Favoutites, the excellent Audrey Horne – Blackout and then this morning another popped into my head, it’s honestly not as easy as you think putting together these end of year lists when you listen to so many albums during a year and there are so many quality ones out there, to be 100% honest I already have 2 for next years list from reviews I’m writing now and I just know these will be 2 of my favs next for 2019. With a lot of bands moving back towards releasing albums on a more frequent basis we see quite a few releasing one a year, of course they aren’t always going to make the best of lists but that doesn’t mean they aren’t all releasing quality albums.
Right I had to do a lot of reworking of the Website over the last couple of weeks, so if you see any odd menus or anything missing that was there a few weeks ago hopefully I’ll have everything back in it’s place . It wasn’t until I tried to make sure the site was up to date with TLS 1.2 that I ran into some issues, couldn’t install plugins, couldn’t do a number of things, so the site had to be moved, the providers moved the content (well most of it) and then I noticed stuff missing, and had to start exporting/importing stuff, and then the menus get messed up again….so a little frustrating, but it took my mind off some other thanks going on in life that have made the last few months a disaster.
Here’s to a happier, healthier, easier and more productive 2019.
Well we all have so many devices these days, PC, Laptop, Tablet, Phone, TV, so when (or if) we look at a Gallery of Photographs, whatever they happen to be of – how do you prefer to look at them. Up until now I generally display my Galleries on a single page, and if you click on a photo on that page then you get to see a larger version of that image and it opens a Slideshow. It gives a little bit of variety and a couple of different options, but over the last year I’ve noticed that more and more people just check on the page view and don’t click through the Slideshow, and that’s fine, whatever way suits you as an individual, but it makes me wonder what way people check things like this out.
So perhaps as we move more and more towards immediacy in the entertainment or arts, that we view and along with it an interesting change to listening to a song from an album rather than the whole thing, or as mentioned viewing a full page of photos, but never looking at a larger version to see the detail in an individual photograph, drawing or painting. At some point I’ll put my ramblings together into more structure and perhaps put a small Survey or Poll together to better gauge public opinion.
It’s hard to believe that this is the most amount of words I’ve been able to put together in almost a month, but one thing is for sure that the everyday stresses of live are a major influence in causing Writers Block. For us at the moment as generally have been for a little over 12 months, Family and Work are the major stress points, with so many things to think about, appointments, phone calls, check ins and ups, bloody forms and more forms, time does disappear so quickly, the madness of bureaucracy and how quickly it can add to already frustrating positions and of course when you stop looking after yourself because you are doing your best to look after everyone else, but the thinner you spread yourself the easier it becomes to lose track of what you need to do, so it’s essential to try and keep yourself in decent shape, not for you but for everyone else, so just doing a little reset on the head every now and then will definitely help your mental state, but it’s a temporary measure. For me it gets thrust upon me when I notice I’m getting overtired, a trigger for my Epilepsy, and in the case of just being overrun with stuff in the last month, forgetting to take my tablets or just remembering, but altering the times drastically (not a good idea with slow release medicine). There’s been some pretty dumb stuff where being very tired I even took a second tablet a couple of hours after the first because I’d convinced myself that I had not taken one at all, that could have triggered an Episode straight away, but luckily it didn’t and I got back on track. So for the next couple of days, I’m going to try not to worry about everyone but me, wish me luck.
With regards the Photography, well I still have Rockingham Festival Galleries to post, although they are long since finished the Reviews haven’t been 100% completed and submitted, which puts more stress on and that’s how you create a vicious circle. So I’m going to power forward with the Gallery posting and hopefully get everything tidied up and submitted. Thankfully Christmas presents are pretty much sorted out, the little guy has far too much and some new stuff uncle and auntie in New Zealand has now been added to the large pile, and he already has enough toys, but the smile on his face will release so much of the pressure it will be worth it.
And as the temperatures outside still haven’t dropped to normal temps I might get out to the Garden a bit more in the coming weeks, the birds are certainly getting stuck into the nuts and fat balls in the feeders, and I haven’t really had a chance to see how the new(ish) camera delivers the hovering/fighting Starlings, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Thrush’s that I’ve already seen around and about. At the start of the year I spent a little more time trying to get shots of our visitors, so hoping to increase the clarity this time around and perhaps get some more interesting stuff of them entering and exiting the feeders/gardens. We shall see.
Currently planning on Gigs and Trips for next year and damn are they coming in thick and fast, which is both great and worrying at the same time, no way I’ll have the time to get to everything, but we will try, more gigs this year than the last two and if we cand fit in a couple extra next year then all the better. It’s also the time of year I will get asked by many to put together my Top 5/10 lists for various categories in music, believe it or not that takes a lot of time and can be a bit of a worry, but will get there, tonnes of really good releases and shows this year and there will be even more next year.
It’s been a pretty crazy year all in all, yes maybe not crazy from a Lifestyle point of view, but having said that it is hectic if not crazy. As time goes on we continue to learn about situations, seeing what happens when work gets really busy, there are hospital or other appointments for the little guy, your spouse works 4 nights a week and you are also at least partially looking after an elderly parent – well where do you have time for other pursuits or just for yourself. For me it often means staying up later at night, which really isn’t helping, have to manage the levels of tiredness or the Epilepsy will make an unwanted interruption to things 😉
I know I’ve said it before, but where does the balance come, and when different things in life kick in, how can you reorganise things to get it all working better for you and your family, perhaps having smaller more focused bursts of concentration for your hobbies/pursuits might work, but that’s not easy when you are doing music photography, or scale back on everything, definitely a possibility, but I’ve already massively scaled back on the number of things I go to, and somehow other things have taken over that time. One thing is for sure were I driving it would save time visiting my mam, would have more options, could go down after getting home from work some days or at weekends make easier trips. But scheduling is out of our control, need to be down for dinner time, and back home for looking after the little guy. Hope this doesn’t sound moany, it’s not meant to, honestly I have it pretty easy, I know there are many people in much more difficult circumstances – I just wish I can figure out better ways of doing things that could maybe benefit all of us. One thing is for sure, all of the stresses and strains are not good for your Mental Health, and usually just when you think you have a handle on something a spanner is thrown in the works, so always be vigilant, and try where you can not to let it all get on top of you, when you are out of action it’s bad for everyone.
But hey I’m still blessed to be able to get away to a few Festivals every year, just posting up the Galleries from last months AOR/Melodic Rock feast Rockingham Festival in Nottingham, UK – brilliant 3 days, great performances and wonderful friends, and I’m pretty happy with the Photographs in general, Getting to mark a couple more bands off the Bucketlist, and again having the pleasure to meet up with some brilliant musicians I’ve gotten to know over the last few years, good times. This event is one that certainly helps calm the frayed edges of sanity, long may it continue.
We recently went to the Wild Lights in Dublin Zoo which was pardon the pun, very illuminating, the last thing we could take our son too for free before he turned 3 last week 😉 and although we weren’t sure just how much he enjoyed it, there was a lot to see, and we enjoyed it. Can see how it would be very expensive bringing a family with a number of children, so perhaps they could look at Family tickets next year, certainly some of the setups he was more interested in than others, but there was a good atmosphere there and some of the animals were still wandering around in the dim night around there areas.
So yes, bloody hell it’s mid-November, soon be time to work on Top Tens of Albums, Gigs, Photos of the year, and I’m already well into the trip planning for next year, that starts as soon as stuff gets announced, so there are items for the calendar right up to next October, it may sound like madness, but if you don’t plan for it there’s no way you can make it happen 😉 And finding the right times to book flights on deals with different airlines, train companies etc, it’s becoming more difficult all the time as rules change, offers come and go…..would love to travel further afield than the UK at least once in 2019 but we will have to see, I’m already committed to 4-5 Festivals, so that will cover most things, a couple of day trips on top of that and we will be done 😉 So hopefully we will be getting to HRH AOR, Blues, Sleaze, Amplified, Rockingham and at least some of Bloodstock. Touch wood.
Also coming in quickly is Christmas, our little guy has already had a wheelbarrow full of toys and presents for his birthday so we’ll be keeping the Christmas stuff a little lower key, and introducing him to Santa, but I don’t think that will hit him until next year, but now he’s walking you never know 😉
This week is all about tying up some loose ends and making sure I’m 100% ready for the last of my Festival Shoots for 2018, and it’s going to be amazing. In total we will have 18 bands spanning the AOR/MelodicRock/HardRock genres and just some excellent bands, headliners this year are Vixen, Nelson and Warrant a nice heavy hitting start to things.
Travelling is changing all the time, used to be something I didn’t have to think too much about, check early for cheaper flights, book when it makes sense and done, simple. Sadly things have changed, certainly for people that are involved in Photography. First off we had the changes Ryanair made to Cabin baggage where you had to purchase Priority boarding in order to carry 2 cabin bags, certainly on overnights that was ok, small camera bag and larger backpack camera back and squeeze in a change of clothes or whatever is needed, but that won’t work for a Festival, so then you add the expense of Priority boarding and a checked in bag/case, now you are doubling the price of a ticket. More new rules coming in at the start of November and probably more to come, the other Airlines are making changes too, everyone is charging more for items you would expect to be free, but at this stage the monetary savings with Ryanair are no more, so for someone that me that travels to the UK regularly it’s just about the same price to fly with Aer Lingus or another airline, so flying one way is an option with one airline, and the return with another airline can prove the most cost effective. Next weekend is easy enough, into East Midlands, bus to Nottingham, and then on the way back, train to Birmingham and flight straight back, certainly could be worse.
Something that will be needed this week is some sleep, last couple of months have been a struggle, a very difficult time, have lost a couple of friends and at the same time learnt of some bad difficulties others are currently dealing with, and then there is whatever you are dealing with yourself thrown on top of that. A few days away from everything might be a tonic, hopefully will be, but I definitely need not to come home more tired than I was going 😉
On top of that I also need to make sure I get some rest because I am already overtired, have felt is the last 2 weeks, and being very overtired triggers my Epilepsy, which I have managed really well to control the last few years, even with a pile of stress, sleeping and eating badly, and everything else, a fit would be a most unwelcome visitor, and when you feel you are in a hole that would definitely dig a deeper one, so I’ll slap myself on the head and sort things out, so off to bed in 10 minutes.
Once again I have the privilege to shoot this great Festival this year and will be shooting/reviewing for the great guys over at MidlandsRocks
Here is a Preview I put together for this years Festival –
Lots of stuff to come from next Friday night onwards, but for now here are some of my photos from the last couple of Rockingham Festivals, I’m still looking to improve this year and look forward to the challenge.
Loverboy – Rockingham 2017
Great White – Rockingham 2017
DARE – Rockingham 2017
Moritz – Rockingham 2017
Vince Neil – Rockingham 2017
Harem Scarem – Rockingham 2017
Dave Bickler – Rockingham 2017
Fortune – Rockingham 2017
Pekka AnsBrother Firetribe – Rockingham 2017io Heino – Brother Firetribe – Rockingham 2017
Have been going well with the Photos from HRH Sleaze, and that’s pretty cool, as I have also been quite happy with the way some of them have turned out, and even more pleasing is the fact that some of the bands have liked them too, and well that means a lot to me.
On the downside, as everything in life has gotten more busy and stressful again the creative side has taken a back seat, and I’m behind again, can’t be helped life does definitely get in the way, sick son and now sick daddy doesn’t help at all, but back to work tomorrow and hopefully this awful week will be nearly done, on top of everything else the world lost a really lovely person this week too, she will never be forgotten by the many people that her heart touched, may she rest in peace.
Moments like this always cause reflection, and a bit of stock taking, but every time I see a photo of the little guy having fun at Preschool everything falls back into place, it just puts a smile on your face.
So the writing and the Photos will come, maybe in a big batch, but that’s how it has to be, and the sickness will pass and then it’s onto the next one, last Festival of the year next month and the one I just can’t wait to see, brilliant lineup and brilliant people, it will be a hugfest for sure…..but until then I will plough on 😉
It’s quite funny when you are laid low with a bug you end up watching stuff on TV you wouldn’t normally see, and there’s more and more programs on about people changing their diet because they read something on the Internet – bloody hell, that’s scary, go and check it out with a qualified person before following an internet fad, not everything on the Net is true you know 😉