One more Festival to go……

It really has been a hectic couple of months, have shot or attended a number of Festivals in July/August/September so far and one more to on the books this coming weekend. A little over a week ago it was HRH Sleaze in Sheffield, another cracking weekend with some great sets from old and new bands alike, a cracking atmosphere and again a really good variety of styles.

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Davy Vain & his band VAIN headlining HRH Sleaze III

It’s been difficult to keep up with the writing as my head’s been in a bit of a whole lately, nothing picking it up yet either, the little guy picking up a nasty bug and trying to keep my mother on track certainly hasn’t made things any easier, and the madness of work really pushes you to the edge. But hey getting away for some music is great, really helps to keep you sane.

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Just about got everything tidied up from Ramblin’ Man Fair, some writing to do from Sleaze and next up we’ve got Uprising 4 in Leicester, first time in that City, and in interesting Heavy lineup with the likes of Napalm Death, Acid Reign, Godthrymm all taking to the stage alongside a number of up and coming local bands, should be really interesting.

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After that still have some trips this year for gigs, not sure I’ll try and shoot any of them, but still will be good breaks away. Especially looking forward to hitting Nottingham for a couple of days in December to catch AlterBridge/Shinedown/Sevendust one night, followed by Dan Reed Network/FM/Gun the next……that will be a great weekend and will hopefully be able to catch up with some friends along the way.

This has been a very mixed bag of a year, but have thankfully been able to shoot a lot of bands in different places, including some at home, most recently at the always excellent Unleashed Festival in Dublin. Keep an eye out for Fornoth, those lads have something that just might elevate them to something special.

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Fornoth – Unleased Festival 2019

On the health side, so far touch wood another year Fit free, so continuing to manage my Epilepsy even though I think over time the medication is making me more and more lethargic, alongside that sleep patterns have been really bad recently, so will hopefully not tax the body too much at Uprising. Mentally, well I see more and more friends stuggle and just think we are all going through this stuff now, added stresses of everything, seem much less than what our parents may have had to deal with, but the immediacy of life now has brought with it a whole new raft of problems.

If you have time and like music go check out my Ramblin’ Man Fair reviews, Day 1 & 2 are up there at the moment on the Reviews page, just click on the link and Day 3 as soon as it’s published. Photo Galleries for everything will continue to be posted when I can and will hopefully get back to posting a couple of Blog posts here and there again.

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Rick Nielsen – Cheap Trick – Ramblin’ Man 2019

Sadly my trusty, and also my standard for concerts, Sigma 24-70mm lens has died, happened at the most inappropriate moment of course just before travelling to HHR Sleaze, so will be on the lookout for a replacement, but managed to get through the Sleaze Festival with a 35mm f2 Canon prime lens, so hopefully it will also do the job at Uprising, but would really prefer to be bringing something a little wider, so may try and grab a second hand 18-35mm lens somewhere, we will see, time is short. Will hopefully get a few days away in between everything else and see some nice scenery 😉  with a bit of luck.

 

Sometimes we get thrown a nice curveball……

Was still rather disappointed with the cancellation of Amplified Festival, and missing the opportunity to shoot a number bands for the first time and some of my favourites, but these things happen, and had resigned myself to staying home this coming weekend. Then out of the blue you see a message that intrigues you, initially you go, no, not possible, can’t be done, but you decide to check out the details, the travel options, accommodation etc….etc….

But still, there’s no way, it can’t be done……so this is my Sunday…..many hours of option checking, re-checking, deliberating, questioning, pricing, saying no, and eventually saying yes. So with many planes, trains and automobiles to come over the next 4 days I’m off to Photograph and Review the Ramblin’ Man Festival in Maidstone in Kent, haven’t managed to make it over to this Festival for a couple of years, so really looking forward to being in that chilled out atmosphere again, and a great lineup this year, along with a couple of acts that were playing the list time I was there, including the mighty Airbourne, and headliners The Darkness and the legends that are Foreigner. The third headliner I managed to see at home here in Dublin last night, and Black Stone Cherry were on fire.

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Not their first time closing out that main stage but they are a great live act, so should be a great set to look forward to. Another 2 RMF acts were on the bill last night, the excellent Kris Barras Band and OTIS both of whom are well worth checking out.

 

This particular Festival has a bit of everything, lots of Rock, Metal, Blues, Prog, Country and a stage just for up and coming bands, it works, and it’s a great way of doing things. Everything from Beth Hart and Kenny Wayne Sheppherd to Anathema, to Foreigner, some really top acts like Cheap Trick, there really should be something for everyone. This time around

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So it’s time to get off and finish the packing, and try to get some sleep…..it’s been sorely lacking this week, so could do with a few hours before it all kicks off, could do with another week to prepare and relax a little 😉  not likely. So although it’s going to be a full on weekend I need to also make sure I do some of the sensible things, eat, take on liquids, take tablets at close to the correct times, and try and sleep a little, just a little. So expect lots of updates over the weekend most especially on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and see you all on the other side. Although the stress isn’t really good for the mental health, the elation of the event itself certainly tends to balance that off.

Planning for a new year, or as it’s more commonly known logistics madness ;-)

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.

 

 

November already…….

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.

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Glass Tiger – Rockingham 2018

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 😉

Rockingham here we come

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 –

Rockingham Festival 2018 Preview

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.

 

 

HRH Sleaze Photos on their way ;-)

Just tidying up the review and then I will start adding the Galleries for each of the bands, and I’ve got to be 100% honest, for some of these Band Gallery’s I’m really excited to get them out there, actually very happy with what has come out of the Festival as a whole, and hopefully some of you, the bands and associated parties will enjoy them also.

Over the weekend we had the pleasure of seeing and shooting some legendary bands from the scene such as LA Guns, Jetboy, Tigertailz and Backyard Babies, alongside many different styles of music, Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, even Metal, but the variety made things that bit better. Judging by the faces of those playing on the stages it was a blast all around.

Midnite City - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Midnite City – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
Tigertailz - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Tigertailz – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

This time around I had the pleasure of shooting for RockposerDotCom, and as always there are plenty of people to thank that make it a brilliant experience, Claire from CentralPress, the HRH Team, all of the Security and Staff at the O2 Academy and naturally all of the bands and fans that go into making  the atmosphere so good, relaxed and fun. For this particular weekend massive thanks go to my good friend Rich for his great company and more than a few laughs along the way, and of course the many other friends and fellow photographers that it’s an privilege and a pleasure to see and work alongside and of course to continue to learn from, the shots that I’ve seen so far from this group of guys and girls have been nothing short of spectacular.

Jetboy - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Jetboy – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
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Last Great Dreamers – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

There needs to be some massive props going out to some of the bands on Stage 2 this year that made a big impact, The Idol Dead, The Black Bullets and Speed Stroke head the list, but any of them could easily have made an impression on the large stage this year (or indeed next year). Either way all bands I’ll be keeping a much closer eye on in the future and with good reason, cracking sets and crowd reactions to all.

 

Wildheart - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Wildheart – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
LA Guns - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
LA Guns – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

The highlights this year were many, from the joy of just watching Tracii Guns play, watching Midnite City continue to grow and know that you got to see them playing in a pub once, because from now on you can only see them on Main Stages, the joy of discovering new bands to you, that quickly become firm favourites, and of course finally managing to see some bucketlist bands like Backyard Babies, or ones you never thought you would ever see – Jetboy, and they nailed it while they loved every second of it.. Until next year where there are some awesome bands on the lineup, should be a cracker.

The Black Bullets - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
The Black Bullets – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
Toxic Rose - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Toxic Rose – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

Travel options to Sheffield from Dublin aren’t always the easiest, with there being no direct flights and the only realistic and viable option is to fly to Birmingham and get a Train up to Sheffield, which is fine, but gets a little more complicated when you are going to a Festival, and even more so when you are shooting one – so setting out from the house (I live beside the Airport in Dublin) 5:00am get in to Birmingham, couple of hours on the Train up to Sheffield, get checked into the Hotel (if you are lucky to get an early room) and then off the the Festival, it’s all go, especially when you consider you won’t be back to the Hotel until maybe 12:30am/1am the following morning, it takes it’s toll on an old man 😉

That was my excuse for forgetting to swap memory cards and camera batteries from my small bag to my main back before leaving the Hotel, so that caused me to miss a little bit of the acoustic sets, but not much thankfully, a quick run up and down the road, makes you focus a little better after you do something stupid like that though. The other problem for me is that controlling your condition (Epilepsy in my case) is a lot more difficult when you are trying to work hard , forgetting to eat and trying to remember to take your tablets at something close to the correct times. This time around we managed to grab a burger before heading into the Festival, so that kept me going, but it’s all too easy to put food to one side when you don’t want to miss any of the action, so this weekend I did manage to shoot every single set, so proud of that, and was able to pop in and out of the 2nd Stage in a way that meant I wasn’t skipping anything I needed to do. One of these days I’d like to take in an extra day or two at one of these City’s and spend some time exploring, seriously I’ve been to Nottingham tonnes of times but never actually set foot in Sherwood Forrest, despite having stayed a couple of hundred yards from the Entrance a few times 😉    Maybe next year. With Sheffield, well I’ve been to many venues around it, but not seen too much, City Center’s can be pretty grim at times.

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Backyard Babies – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield
Falling Red - HRH Sleaze II - O2 Academy, Sheffield
Falling Red – HRH Sleaze II – O2 Academy, Sheffield

Having said it a few times in previous posts, this year has been a big struggle at times, and despite how much I loved the whole weekend, loved working on the Photos and getting time to hang out with friends, I would be lying if there weren’t some really difficult times over the weekend, there were, but sometimes struggles all go to make the effort even more worthwhile, never give up, keep pushing through the bad times, and sit down and talk with your friends.

It’s really becoming an interesting year….

Ok, there have definitely been a lot of downs and far too many things to get organised this year that have had a large impact in what I do for fun/hobbies and just to unwind – but that is life as we know it in the 21st Century. When you add in multiple family obligations, a busy working environment and just general travel around it often leaves very little time to do things. Certainly one thing that has suffered this year is writing, I just can’t get through blocks in my head, more so for album reviews than anything else, but will continue to try and push ahead with what I have left to work on.

On the plus side, I’ve tried to organise myself better to fit around everything else in life and have managed to shoot a decent amount of shows thus far in 2018, and with some more on the horizon it’s great. That’s a positive, HRH Sleaze last weekend in Sheffield and confirmation for Rockinghamm which takes place in Nottingham next month are the two larger things on the Calendar, but hopefully a few smaller shows too. August has been a busy month  for shows and Sept will be the same. Recently got to shoot both the Bash For Philo and the wonderful Mike Brookfield (who was playing in Whelans on the same night)

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Mike Brookfield – Whelans – 18-08-2018
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Graham Bonnet Band – Bash For Philo – 18-08-2018

Was brilliant to get out the weekend before last and shoot the Unleashed Festival in Dublin, two night of heavy music, featuring some of Ireland’s best Thrash and heavier over two nights. So still need to get photos posted for that while working on the HRH Sleaze shots, add in a Review of Sleaze and a couple of Album reviews and that’s the next month done 😉

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Claire Percival – Dead Label – Unleashed Festival 2018

More positives in the fact that I have shot more shows this year than the last couple, and some of the stuff from HRH Sleaze is looking pretty good I think. Lots of interesting bands on show on both stages and some terrific performances, definitely a Festival to have a look at for 2019.

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Tom Wouda – Toxic Rose – HRH Sleaze II
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Tracii Guns of the wonderful LA Guns at HRH Sleaze II

Right lots more editing to get done later – looking forward to publishing the end results and hope some of you like them. The last few weeks have been a massive struggle and stress levels have been through the roof, so happy to get some other stuff done on the photography. Onwards and upwards as they say.