John Mellencamp + Sheryl Crow @ BEC

I’ve previously blogged that photographing big name acts at big venues just isn’t all that… and the artist formally know as John Cougar Mellencamp, i.e. John Mellencamp, supported by Sheryl Crow at the Brisbane Exhibition Centre was another one of those nights. 

I think I first heard John Mellencamp back in the mid-1980s on Entertainment USA or No Limits.  Whilst the music of the mid to late 1980s is unfairly derided, music coverage on mainstream TV in the UK was good,  with the likes of Snub TV and The Tube as well as the more mainstream shows like No Limits, The Chart Show and TOTP.  I wonder whatever happened to Entertainment USA and No Limits presenter Jonathan King… 

Although I was down to cover it, the confirmation call didn’t come through until 3pm on the day of the gig, with the warning that as there was no photo pit we would be 30 – 35m from the stage, i.e. the mixing desk, for John Mellencamp but that we could photograph from the side for Sheryl Crow. 

Anticipating that it might be a last minute confirmation I’d brought my camera bag with me and went there straight from work, getting there with plenty of time to spare before the 7:45pm meet-up time and ending up with an hour wait before Sheryl Crow was due to start at 8:10pm. 

I remember first hearing Sheryl Crow when she first broke into the big time back in 1994 when I was in the USA and driving around the country (NY to Seattle, Seattle- LA, LA to NY).  Every time you tuned into a different radio station it seemed to be playing ‘All I Wanna Do‘, and with my road trip taking me ever near LA, lyrics about the sun coming up over Santa Monica Boulevard started to take on slightly mythical properties.  In reality the Santa Monica Boulevard has all the romance of the Spaghetti Junction, but I guess that’s LA for you.  After 7 weeks driving and hearing the song on such heavy rotation I was over it.  However, worse was to come when I got back to the UK and the song broke over there, meaning another few months of it being played everywhere. 

Photographing from the side of the stage meant the aisle at the very side of the floor area, with a constant stream of people walking to and from their seats in front of us.  Our position wasn’t as far from the stage as the mixing desk but far enough and, as encountered with The Cure’s Robert Smith last year, she tended to play and sing facing away from where we would stood, so for the most part our view whilst she was singing was very side-on and you couldn’t really see her face. 

John Mellencamp was due on at 9:30pm so after Sheryl Crow’s three songs it was another hour wait before we were escorted back in.  Not only is the mixing desk at the BEC some way from the stage, but we were also positioned by the side of desk on the floor, as opposed to the slightly elevated desk level.  So when he came on (15 minutes late at 9:45pm) everyone stood up and we didn’t have a clear shot of him.  After the first song a fair number of the audience sat back down, which made it a bit easier but still not great.  The third song was a duet with Sheryl Crow which would have been good to photograph, except from our view John Mellencamp was singing stood behind his mic stand, meaning that again it was hard to get a clear shot and frustrating being stuck in a fixed position and unable to move slightly to the side to get a better angle.

Although I was exepecting to get booted from the venue after three songs, PR had a few spare complimentary tickets and I gave me one.  So although photographically it was ‘another one of those nights’, some good came from it by getting to see most of his set.

A few more 300mm wide-angle shots on flickr

John Mellencamp

Sheryl Crow

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