Gareth Liddiard @ The Troubadour

I think I’ve probably said enough about The Drones on my blog like here, here, here and here.  And knowing that I’m down to cover them again in a couple weeks, when they play the launch night at the new Hi-Fi Bar in West End, I won’t say much about them now, even though a Gareth Liddiard solo show is a bit different, with the songs stripped down from their usual wall of sound to just vocals and acoustic guitar.  The power and intensity of the songs remains the same and it does have the advantage of allowing more space to concentrate on his excellent lyrics.  If there was one disappointment from the night, it’s that previously he has used solo shows to road test new material, where as tonight (and for the other dates of the tour) it’s just been songs from the band’s existing catalogue.  Actually, thinking about it there was a second disappointment in the amount of chatter going on through his set at the back of the room, something that he picked up on and responded to with some fairly colourful language, not that the people at the back were listening anyway…

As well as having said more than enough about The Drones, I’ve also probably said more than enough about difficulties photographing in the dark at The Troubadour, including here, here, here  and here.  Having a new-ish camera that does handle higher ISOs much better than my old camera, which was more or less unusable at anything over ISO 800, has made a difference, but although I can get reasonable colour photos I’m still preferring converting them to black & white or monochrome images.  I’ve also probably blogged more than enough about my love of black & white photos and about the influence that the likes of Anton Corbijn, Herman Leonard and Steve Gullick have had on my photography.  The trouble is that it’s becoming an increasing source of internal artistic conflict; I keep feeling to take my photography to the next level I need to start targeting larger gigs, more “mainstream” acts, less local acts playing tiny venues with no lighting, photographing at larger venues, with much better lighting and higher production values, so that it gives me the best opportunities for keeping images in colour.  As much as I adore black & white, next to no black & white photos get published in music magazines these days.  Usually the only time you see black and white music photos it’s in places like ‘Mojo‘ and the main reason it’s in black & white is that it was taken on black & white film.  And yet half the reason I like reading magazines like ‘Mojo’ or ‘Word‘ is they have all these amazing black & white photos of “classic” 60s and 70s acts.

My music photography has been driven mainly by the music; it’s why The Zoo is my second home and why I photographed more at The Troubadour than at either the BEC or BCC last year. But maybe I need to focus on the photography side a bit more.

6 Responses to “Gareth Liddiard @ The Troubadour”

  1. That first photo is excellent. Interesting to read your internal conflict, too.

  2. Heath says:

    I shot this show as well, and pretty much decided that until I convert to Nikon, or Canon manages to match their low light/high ISO performance, I’ll not shoot at the Troubadour again.

    Photography aside, I really enjoyed the show. I’ve seen the Drones a couple of times, and I’ve seen Gareth play solo a couple of times (including, bizarrely, supporting Scott from Tripod at Rics), and I’ve gotta say I preferred the solo shows. As you say, the power and intensity of the songs really shines through when it’s just voice and acoustic guitar.

  3. Justin says:

    Hi Heath. Although I slag off photographing at The Troubadour it’s probably not that bad. I think it has a couple of good things going for it in that there are continuous light sources (usually) and a lot of the time it has a singer/songwriter slant to the music it puts on, meaning the performances are relatively static and you can use lower shutter speeds. The main trouble comes when bands like Sixfthick play there; then you’re in trouble! I think I still prefer the whole band show as I love the wall of guitar noise, but the solo show doesn’t diminish the songs and they take on a whole new life.

  4. Justin says:

    Hi Andrew. That first photo was when he first got on stage and the sound guy had gone walkabout, so he was giving evil death stares in the direcetion of the mixing desk for the music coming over the pa to be turned off so he could start.

    Deciding on bands to cover is difficult, but generally I request the bands I want to see, as opposed to bands that might be good to photograph. I’m never sure of how the allocation of gigs to photographers/reviewers works; do I get the stuff at places like The Zoo and the Troubadour because no one else has applied to cover it, and so by giving me those gigs to cover they can allocate bigger stuff/more famous/higher profile acts to other people, and so maximise the gigs they cover in any one week and make sure as many photographers as possible have something to do. And if that is the case I am cutting my nose off to spite my face by wanting to photograph bands I want to see but who play in dark places without photo pit? I guess I just need a little bit of manufactured pop glamour from time to time to mix it up a bit!

  5. I’m sure you’d meet some different characters in the pit at pop shows to what goes on at The Zoo et al. But if you’re serious about getting more experience, it’s certainly worth a go.

  6. Justin says:

    It’s pretty much the same bunch of photographers that you see around, although you see more photo agency people and the Courier Mail photographers at the bigger gigs. It’s more about having a break from always being in the Valley, where the lighting is usually nothing that special and there’s no photo pits, and having an occasional bit of glamour at bigger gigs, with nice lighting and photo pits, and mixing up my portfolio a bit from the typical bands playing in places like The Zoo.

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