Kylie Minogue + Gypsy & The Cat @ BEC, 03.06.2011

I never expected to get assigned to this in a million years. When the concert calendar for the fortnight was emailed out it included a whole list of shows that had already been assigned, including tonight’s show, and a note not to ask to cover these shows. The first email was followed up slightly later with a second email, where most of the shows were suddenly up for grabs again. So I said I was interested and got put down to cover it. Although I spend most of my time at smaller venues, usually photographing smaller acts, it always makes a nice change to have the chance to go and photograph something different.

Trips out to the BEC are a rare event for me and the last time I was out at Boondall was for Spandau Ballet and Tears For Fears in April 2010. It’s a long way to go to spend most of an evening sitting in the admin area, get to photograph three songs that might last a combined total of 15 minutes if you’re lucky, then get escorted out of the arena back to the admin centre, thanked for your time and have to make the long trip back home. Although I’ve shot very few gigs at the BEC, the only times I’ve either been given a ticket or told by the promoter rep that I can stay if I want have been for Beyonce and John Mellencamp. There’s always big gigs at the BEC throughout the year, but it really has to be something special for me to put in for it. Even then I don’t bother requesting a lot of those shows that I would be interested in photographing if I know in advance that there’s a copyright grabbing contract or that we’ll be photographing from all the way back at the mixing desk.

The train journey out to Boondall was an interesting experience, akin to a hen night for a middle-aged divorcee on her second marriage, with plenty of pink boas and pink cowboy hats on display and very few male Kylie fans in the carriage.

Although the email confirmation from the promoter said bring a big lens, I didn’t really think about it until I arrived at the BEC and found all the newspaper and agency photographers brandishing lenses the size of my leg. I hadn’t heard that it was a sound desk shoot and what I had been told from photographers who had attended the media invite a few days earlier made it sound like we were going to be close to the stage. Getting there early, so that I could also make the most of the trip and photograph the support band, Gypsy & The Cat, meant that I could check out the position we’d be photographing from before the main event. All the photographers were led down through the back of the BEC, out into the arena, down to the front and then into ‘The Splash Zone’; the area in the middle of the walkway for the fans able and willing to pay $400 for their standing space. At the back of the Splash Zone there was a barrier and a small pit and instructions from the promoter’s rep to stay within the small space marked out by yellow gaffa taped to the floor at each side of the pit. Although Gypsy & The Cat played on the main stage, the other side of the Splash Zone from where we were stood, it wasn’t confirmed until after their set that Kylie would spend all of the three songs on the stage and not venture out down the runways to where we were stood. Instead of having a close up and personal photo opportunity it wouldn’t be a whole lot different from a sound desk shoot. In fact, in the end it was probably no different from a sound desk shoot, as she spent a lot of the first three songs on the riser at the back of the stage and being on the same level as all the people in front of us made it hard to get shots without the crowd in them when she was on the main part of the stage. Although we got escorted out after the first three songs I read in the reviews that she didn’t venture onto the walkway until the encores; seems a waste of all that stage and the fountains that were contained within the walkway. It also made it sound like the people with the $400 tickets got their money worth in terms of view and that the larger number of people who had only paid for the $150 dollar standing spaces didn’t get a close up view until almost the very end of the show.

Having said that I’m not sure if it mattered that much as the staging was massive, and whilst those in the ‘cheaper’ standing and seats didn’t have the close up views they got a much better wider view of the whole show. ‘Show’ is the right word to use; it’s much more like a huge Vegas show than your average gig and while the cost of putting it on has been much reported, it’s clear that while the cost of the stage and moving it around the world is going to be excessive, the real cost is in the number of people involved in the show – the band, all the dancers, all the crew to put it all together – and the cost of keeping them on the road. It definitely is a very impressive spectacle even if I only get to see it for three songs (which must have gone on for at least 20 minutes) before being escorted out of the venue. I’m glad I went but would have liked to have gotten a better set of photos and really would have liked to have been able to stay and see the rest of the show; I don’t think either of the two nights in Brisbane sold out so I’m sure they could have squeezed us up somewhere up at the back of the BEC.

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