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.

When you can only get to 1 Day of a 4 Day Festival………you should still go ;-)

 

With circumstances as they currently are this year there was no chance I’d be able to get to the whole Bloodstock Festival, which is a real shame as it’s a brilliant weekend and there were loads of bands that I was interested in each day, but such is life. However I did have the opportunity to take in one day, and the Friday was the one that worked out for me, and damn it’s not a bad way to spend a Friday night (thanks to the offer of a bed from a friend), headlined by Judas Priest and featuring Doro, Kamelot, Suicidal Tendencies, Wednesday 13, and Onslaught among many others. This one day trip to Catton Hall in Derby was going to be brilliant, an early start at 5:00am was going to mean looking after myself, but honestly the trip itself was always going to be really good for my own mental health

Wasn’t shooting or reviewing this year so I was determined to make the most of things and see as much as I possibly could, and to that end the final count was catching full or partial sets by 17 bands on the day, which is good going for an old man, I crashed a little towards the end as I’d forgotten to take a sit down at any stage.

 

Here are a bunch of compact snaps from the day, it was tiring but so much fun, but you should really check out the shots from the Official photographers and the other Pros that were there, some really amazing work, anyway here are my crude personal pics as a reminder of a wonderful day at one of the best Festivals anywhere \m/ \m/

I Get Knocked Down……. and not as easy to get up…

Lately I have been starting to wonder is your mind much like being a boxer, when you are younger you get knocked down and even if it’s something that floors you for a while, you step right back up again and even if your head has been scrambled you just don’t let it phase you much. But perhaps every time you take a mental blow it cuts down your strength and resolve a little, and just maybe as you get older and keep taking mental blows you windup like a boxer that has carried on their career that bit too long, and every time you get hit you are slower to get back up and much slower to bounce back.

 

Right now that’s exactly how I feel, and it’s affecting other parts of life, sleeping, concentration, mood, pretty much everything. It’s easy enough these days to attribute everything to stress, being busy in all aspects of life, and that leading to depression, and sadly it’s pretty much right every time, but depression tends to come in bouts when it passes you can usually fight your way back out of the hole you are stuck in, perhaps if one bout runs into another and you are not sleeping and overtired that ability disappears. But at the end of the day you still need to keep fighting it, keep trying to climb back out of that hole.

 

This time around it definitely feels like a truck ran right over me, stopped and then reversed over me again. Even with this Blog entry I started writing it a few weeks ago and then the words ground to a halt, so back to square one again. That has certainly had a massive impact on trying to get any review work completed, on top of many other things that have slowed down. But at least this week attempting to write has lifted me a little, and getting out to a couple of shows, which were both amazing by the way, had brought some normality back to life. The image at the top of the page is just a personal memory from the show, wasn’t shooting it for anyone, but if you get an opportunity get out and see Sons Of Apollo, having so many super talented musicians on stage at one time is very rare, but they all put in 100% effort and energy into their show, true professionals.

 

Attempting to ease some of the external pressures has proven a little more difficult than expected, but any piece of progress helps and besides these things always seem to take time to get sorted out now. So we push forwards as much as we can.

At least I managed to submit a Review this week, the excellent Myles Kennedy, you can read it now over on the Overdrive website. Great photos by my good friend Steve at Down The Barrel Photography.

Myles Kennedy Review – Dublin 05-07-2018

 

What’s next ?

keeep fighting, try and get the head back in some semblance of working order. On the music/photography side, I’m working on a couple of Album Reviews and have the new Roack/Blues/Metal Festival to come in a couple of weeks, Rally Of The Lough in Co. Meath Ireland, with acts like Pat McManus Band, Phil Campbell And The Bastards, DARE, Coroner, Samarkind and many more, really looking forward to shooting this one.

ROLLFestival-Poster-July2018

 

Keeping busy, but not too busy, and organising shows and stuff for the rest of the year, changes in circumstances mean only a couple of nights a weeks are at all possible now, but that’s a lot better than nothing. Roll with the punches, and hopefully get back up a little quicker next time \m/ \m/

Off to the tropical Sheffield and Nottingham for sure, and maybe squeeze in one more, and some stuff next year already beginning to fill in.

When deep in the hole I managed to have a couple of chats with good friends, not deep conversations or anything, but sometimes a chat will be enough to help you crawl out, so if you are down, just don’t ever forget to talk to friends, they will be there for you, so say hello and chew the fat.

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So what do you so when you are running out of time and are laid up sick ?

Some days you just have to scream, there’s nothing left but it, today marks exactly two weeks since the start of the HRH AOR Festival in Hafan Y Mor, Pwllheli, Wales, and I was determined to get the photos and review all done and dusted  and to that end I did set about a lot of work, there were thousands of photos to go through, lots of  writing to be done, scheduling to work though, and of course all of this with some really busy work going on with my full time job, and family work and life 😉   so unfortunately something had to give and I came down with something that smashed my head for pretty much 5 days and I’m just coming out of the transformation to Zombie today……. so I get to scream this evening……… just not so loud as it might hurt my head…

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Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics – HRH AOR 6 – 09-03-2018

 

But as with any other setbacks we have to roll up the sleeves and just get stuck into it again. So this evening I’m determined to get the Day 2 review fully completed and submitted, the Photos have already been sent in, so just a few bands left to complete the writing for and away we go, then it’s onto Day 3, followed by a couple of album reviews and a Preview of HRH Blues 4 which will be taking place in a few weeks. Ah the fun never stops, when does our brain convince us that we are bloody mad to take on so much. Not this month I guess, or next, but maybe at the end of the year when I sit back and look back on the whole year of madness.

 

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CRUZH – HRH AOR 6 – 09-03-2018

 

So hopefully my head will get back into some semblance of normality and I can get it all sorted and out there before long, and avoid hitting the deck and ending up back in bed for another unwelcome break.

The first day review is here if anyone wants to have a look, working for my good friends at RockposerDotCom this time around.

HRH AOR 6 – 09-03-2018

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Joe Lynn Turner – HRH AOR 6 -08-03-2018

Of course if the weather holds up it would be nice to get out and about a bit and capture a little of the beauty of our surroundings. Couple of gigs to squeeze in the next few days too, nearly forgot that – March can be such a busy month, and April is often no quieter, bloody hell TOTO is only a couple of weeks away. So much to look forward to, so time to take a bit of a stock of the abysmal diet, need more energy, less weight on me, and better organisation, and to be honest, need a bit more help with some things, at the end of the day all will work out ok we have the technology 😉   stay safe out there, it’s really easy for any of us to slip into depression spirals, doesn’t take too many situations one after the other and boom……and if you need a bit of help, never be afraid to talk to someone be it a friend, a stranger or a professional, just do it.

 

HRH AOR 6 has definitely destroyed me ;-)

Well I’m home safe but definitely not sound 😉

Arrived back at around 8pm last night and to be honest was a complete Zombie for the whole day from the moment I got up, and then couldn’t sleep, that’s what being overtired does to a body.

As for the Weekend, brilliant, from Joe Lynn Turner to Night Ranger to Skid Row, each day brought some terrific performances, from bands I’d expected to be great like Eclipse, The Radio Sun, Midnite City,  Blood Red Saints and more…  and then of course there were the wonderful surprised like finally getting to catch Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics and being blown away by the performance, or having a band like The King Lot open up the Friday Main Stage and kicking everyone’s ass into gear from the first song, great stuff and all part of what turned out to be another brilliant HRH AOR weekend.

Lots to write up, just need the head to clear, and let it flow, and a hell of a lot of photos to get sorted through, but will get there, need to get some sleep the rest of the week and go at it again fresh, so far very pleased with how some shots are coming out and a bit disappointed with others…..but that’s the nature of things – will keep plugging away. Have to make sure I don’t get exhausted and bring on an episode, and damn have to hit Sepultura on Thursday and get some other reviews in, busy times.

Very very tired and not sleeping now, but trying to work through the photos, hopefully you will like them when I have the full galleries up, here’s a small taster.

 

 

 

 

January 2018 – 2 weeks, 2 gigs, 2 shoots ;-)

So in the first 11 days of the year we have almost hit 10% of the number of gigs in total that were attended in all of 2017, ok the target may not be a very difficult one to hit compared to a normal year, but that aside it’s certainly been a better start.

This weeks show was one of my favourite voices in Rock/Metal playing one of my (if not the top of the list) favourite albums of all time ‘Operation Mindcrime’, and having missed his solo acoustic show in Dublin at the end of 2016 I was even more determined to be there this time around to see Geoff Tate, and the reports of that night were spot on, his voice is in very good shape, he looks like a different man, more relaxed and much happier than when I last saw him fronting Queensryche back in 2011. That all led this to be an excellent show, yes there were some issues that meant there was a long delay in the start of the show and yes musically it wasn’t quite note for note, but I was there to hear Geoff sing the songs, and that brought a massive smile to my face, singing stupidly from the balcony after I’d finished the Photography work.

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Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime, Button Factory, Dublin – 11-01-2018

The set tonight was the album from start to finish plus the added bonus of “Silent Lucidity” and the excellent closing shots of “Empire” and “Jet City Woman”, what a great way to end the night.

Shooting twice in a week in a venue I think of as my nemesis wasn’t all that bad, managed to get through both shows and hopefully managed to get a couple of decent shots out of it, still a little work to tidy out the Galleries from Thursday, but we will get there, haven’t been immune to the many bugs going around the last couple of weeks and sadly feel like I haven’t really had a break over Christmas/New Year, but you gotta roll with it. Should be out at my cousins b’day celebrations tonight, but sick house today, and probably a much needed night in.

Thanks to LOR Productions for giving me the opportunity to shoot one of my favourite singers and mark another off the Photography Bucketlist.

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Kamila Barber of The Truce, supporting Geoff Tate at the Button Factory – 11-01-2018

Next up, hoping to take in the first Heat of this years Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland competition in Fibber Magees next Saturday night, might even bring along the camera, imagine that would make it 3 gigs in 3 weeks and 3 shoots 😉   getting a little ahead of myself there I know, but we shall see, be nice to get in there and meet up with some friends I haven’t seen much of recently.