Hapless Concert Photography

Firewind & Leaves’ Eyes | Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff | 13th September 2012

A number of years ago I was searching YouTube for some Blackfoot video footage when I came across a Greek band called Firewind who had covered one of their songs. The Firewind version was refreshing and it rocked. And in my opinion, it was better than Blackfoot’s original recording.

Clicking around YouTube’s related search results I found they’d also covered a Scorpions number, Pictured Life. Their rendition couldn’t be better than the Scorps, I thought. Surely Uli Roth’s guitar work on this track couldn’t be surpassed? I clicked the video play button.

Wow!

A faithful reproduction of the original, yet a little faster and punchier. Tighter. Heavier.

Kick-ass!

This is how I found Firewind. Now, one of my all-time favorite metal bands; each band member being a virtuoso in their own right. Together, they have written some of the very best heavy metal music I have heard in a long while. And they deliver it with such aplomb.

So when I read they would be embarking on their first UK tour in 2012, I went to see them on the first night of that stint. The venue:  Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff.

Supported by Leaves’ Eyes, and stood stage-left near the bass bins with a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale in my hand,  I knew I was in for a good night. It was an excellent opportunity to try my Newky-Brown-holding-hand at concert photography too. How hard could it be?

Casio Exilim 10.1 MP x3 Zoom

I elected to take my Casio Exilim 10.1MP camera to the concert.

Casio Exilim z1050

Casio Exilim 10.1MP x3 Zoom

I certainly didn’t want to risk my cumbersome Nikon DSLR in the head-banging, fist-throwing, moshing, sweaty crowd.  I cared not if the Casio got broken. I’d retired it a long time ago but I knew it was capable of focusing and capturing images in the darkest of surroundings. And that’s exactly what is required in Clwb Ifor Bach, for everything is painted black. Seriously! It’s pitch black in there.

Capable of recording video too, I opted to capture a mixture of photographs and video.

So How Did I Fare?

In a nutshell – not very well. I took approximately one hundred photographs in total and have only twelve shots that are – at a push – reasonable.

And here’s why:-

The main problem was me and people like me. Everyone has a camera on their person nowadays. And out they all come at concerts: iPods, Smartphones, and even the larger iPads and Notepads. A sea of back-lit screens obscuring views of the stage and the bands we came to see. Gone are the days of holding up your lit cigarette lighter during the mid-set big ballad and waving it about the place. It’s all larger high-tech illumination now – and bollocks to the person behind you.

And so the majority of my photographs were of people taking photographs.

Not designed for Heavy Metal:-

It would be very Heavy Metal for me to say at this point that a Firewind  concert broke my camera. But alas! It did not. However, the Casio could not handle Firewind’s extreme Wall of Sound when recording video. The camera’s automatic recording gain caused clipping which resulted in distorted audio. But I can’t blame the camera. My ears couldn’t handle the power of the sound either. I had tinnitus for days afterwards.

Technical points:-

From a technical perspective, the camera captured excellent images in difficult circumstances. There’s not one photograph that’s blurred. Focusing was always sharp despite the energetic movements of the performers, manic lighting and nearly every object being predominately black. The focus during video recording was perfectly acceptable.

Lessons learned?

Yes, I’ve learned my lesson. The result of my efforts is not good photography. And I probably spoiled someone’s view. The salvaged images and video are little more than trophies for ardent fans, or simply a visual record for posterity.

A missed opportunity:-

The best photographic moment  came at the end of the show. The lights went up and the band members posed on stage for photographs with their arms around each others shoulders. They took several bows, pausing to pose again in between; savoring the cheers and admiration of the ecstatic crowd. It was a precious fragment of time that seemed to pan-out over eternity in slow motion. Plenty of time then, to get at least one good shot.

But what was I doing? Frantically trying to remember how to delete a video from the camera’s miniscule – and full – 2Gb SD card.

For posterity then…

Leaves’ Eyes

Leaves' Eyes Stage Set Up

Clwb Ifor Bach Stage – Being Prepared for Leaves’ Eyes

Liv Kristine, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes, Clwb Ifor Bach

Liv Kristine, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes, Clwb Ifor Bach

Krull and Liv Kristine, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Sander van der Meer, Alexander Krull and Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes, Clwb Ifor Bach

Liv Kristine, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes, Clwb Ifor Bach

Liv Kristine, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Alexander Krull, Liv Kristine and Thorsten Bauer, Leaves’ Eyes, Clwb Ifor Bach

Firewind

Stood within inches of Gus G’s microphone and guitar effects pedals, and watching the roadies prepare the stage, I took a photograph of the Firewind set list and the few pedals that Gus G. used for this concert.

Gus G Effects Pedals, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Firewind Set List, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 2012

And Gus G’s Blackstar Amplification rigs.

Gus G. Blackstar Amplification

Gus G. Blackstar Guitar Amplification at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 2012

Firewind Set List: Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Firewind Set List, Clwb Ifor Bach 2012

Firewind Concert Set List, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 2012

  1. Wall of Sound *** DO NOT PLAY THIS VIDEO LOUD (The sound is distorted) ***
  2. Head Up High
    Gus G. Firewind, Cardiff 2012

    Gus G. Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

    Gus G. Firewind, Cardiff 2012

    Gus G. Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

    Gus G. Firewind, Cardiff 2012

    Gus G. Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

  3. Destination Forever
  4. Few Against Many

    Firewind - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 2012

    Johan Nunez, Apollo Papathanasio, Petros Christodoulidis & Bob Katsionis

  5. Insanity
  6. World on Fire *** DO NOT PLAY THIS VIDEO LOUD (The sound is distorted) ***
  7. Fire & Fury
  8. Losing My Mind

    Gus G. Firewiind, Cardiff 2012

    Gus G. Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 2012

  9. Mercenary Man
  10. Angels Forgive Me
  11. Glorious
  12. Until the End of Time *** DO NOT PLAY THIS VIDEO LOUD (The sound is distorted) ***
  13. I Am the Anger
  14. Tyranny
    Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 2012

    Gus G. and Apollo Papathanasio, Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 2012

    Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 2012

    Gus G. Firewind, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 2012

  15. Into the Fire
  16. Breaking the Silence (Duet with Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes) *** DO NOT PLAY THIS VIDEO LOUD (The sound is distorted) ***
  17. Falling to Pieces

A  review of this concert here by Jamie Richards. (This guy must have been stood close to me and be 8 feet tall by the looks of things!)

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