Things may be changing in a positive way, but……..

Well here we are in March 2021, one full year since things locked down in most places, certainly here in Ireland, and from my perspective I was just about to test the water so to speak with regards to going back to the Live Music scene. Being 100% honest, even now a year on I do not know if physically and mentally I’ll be able to do Gigs and more worryingly for me, Festivals anymore. Time will tell, but I really hope I can, it’s something I love doing.

The effort required to shoot 3 consecutive Days of any Festival is probably a lot more than people appreciate, it’s not just a case of sitting around for 10 hours and going to stand for 10 minutes of every set, that’s for sure. Take my normal situation for a Festival in the UK, lets take something in the Midlands, 2 or 3 Day Festival,

  • I would fly into either Birmingham or East Midlands on the first flight, arriving between 7-9am.
  • Make my way to the City where the venue is by Bus or Train.
  • Check into my Accommodation
  • Organise my Camera bag and Festival accreditation
  • Double check camera batteries are charged, memory cards are cleared
  • Depending on the start time for that day either lay down and rest for an hour or make my way to the venue, grabbing a sandwich on the way.
  • Check in, catch up with friends and colleagues.
  • Get ready for shooting, test the camera/s for basic lighting etc.
  • Then we begin the process, queue for the Photo Pit to open, first 3 songs to shoot, pray that there is some decent lighting for the early bands.
  • Depending on the Festival, get some shots from the back of the venue or the balcony if that’s permitted.
  • Then get back in the queue for the next band or move to the 2nd stage to try and catch the band there for coverage. REPEAT 🙂
  • Oh and try and remember to get some foot and maybe find somewhere to sit down for 30 minutes at some point.
  • Last band will either be 11:15pm or 2:15am when the shooting stops, but as I am normally reviewing as well it means I have to watch the last band of the day until they finish, so maybe 2:40am
  • Back to the accommodation, dump the photos from the memory card/s to a laptop & back up Hard Drive.
  • Edit a selection of photos picked somewhat at random and post a couple of Social Media.
  • Try and get some sleep before you get up for a shower, Breakfast and begin again for a busier day on Day 2 and REPEAT :-). You get a lot of steps in, but it’s tiring and hard work.

So we will see first of all if we do get any Festivals running this year, and whether or not I can get to one. As it stands now early March we have already had major Festivals in June postponed again to next year with Download pushed back recently, only today Bloodstock started the difficult decisions of having to announce changes to the lineup, with a number of US bands pulling out of the 2021 event due to the current situation, they are still hoping to go ahead and put the Festival on in June. Other Festivals in September are already preparing people for the possibility that they can’t proceed, as with everything in Covid times, we will wait and see 🙂

The main problem for smaller Festivals I think is that is you add in restrictions on the size of the crowd, and other stuff it makes it neither Financially viable to continue nor would it be the event they had planned it to be. From my reading of things right now, it looks like a lot of US bands will not be travelling to Europe this year, as things currently stand anyway, everything of course is fluid but for Festivals they have to make decisions a little earlier than one off shows, so as you head towards April/May you can add 3-4 months onto the events that will be effected. Another UK Festival due to take place in July is now looking like UK bands only, and there’s nothing wrong with the bands in the lineup, it’s just that some of the bands no longer there would have been a big draw for most patrons, and it does effect the vibe if it were to take place. Ryanair Flights in June are currently being cancelled so that will affect other plans.

I do think that we will get some shows happening later in the year, and that’s something to look forward to for sure. Smaller local events might be good for me to test my stamina and get back to using the camera again in a live setting, so fingers crossed. Certainly my walking schedule will help, just have to make sure I’m taking rest days the odd time. I can be either doing nothing for too long a period like happened at the end of last year, or probably doing too much as I am at the moment, almost up to 500KM done in 2021 already so a day ever now and then, or my body will get overtired. I was going to do some charity stuff this month like “50 Miles in March” but i’ve already don’t 50 miles 🙂 might just do another 5KM walk on St. Patricks Day. Am adjusting my year end Target from 2,000KM to 2,500KM so that will keep me pushing forward through the months. Right I’m now signed up for a 5KM on Patricks Day now in aid of Aware, a Mental Health Support organisation here in Ireland, and in the last couple of days I’ve passed the 500KM mark since the start of the year, so will just keep going and think when the weather is a bit nicer I might increase the distances again. To be honest I’ve been a little bit mentally exhausted the last few weeks, so just glad to be doing stuff, sometimes I need to overdo things just to reboot the head and get things back on track, but hey, but listen if that’s what it takes it’s a small price to pay as long as I’m sensible enough to get a little more rest around this time to balance things out a bit, the fickle way of things. Of course the diet always takes a bad turn at these times, the exercise helps to somewhat cancel it out along with the extra rest of course, so will move on re-align and hopefully click back into place again, so many things to do as we approach more challenges coming into middle age.

The little monster finally went back to Preschool last week, and we noticed the happy change in him almost straight away, which is awesome, much happier in himself and loving being back in his school routine. So much happier to be doing his thing, which is just great to see, makes us all smile 🙂 and lifts your spirits as we look like we may be staying in Lockdown for another 6 weeks or so. There is a definite feeling at this stage that we have been doing out bit for a long time, but I guess a little more is needed, perhaps this is all due to delays with the promised supply of Vaccine, would like to be scheduled for mine so at least I know then where I stand, but as with everyone else we are just in the dark, hopefully soon.

So what else has been going on, well, work has been busy, I haven’t been able to get back into writing reviews, been busy with everything else that’s going on in life at the moment alongside work and exercise. I really would like to get back into it though, there are a lot of good albums being released at the moment and scheduled for the coming months. As strange as this sounds, as time goes on and the fact that it has been so long since I had my last fit, I almost forget about the Epilepsy at times, yes I know I said it sounds strange, after all I take tablets every morning and night to keep it under control, it hasn’t just disappeared. Well recently we’ve had a lot of great information, lots of wonderful stories from people about when they got Epilepsy and what their stories have been, through Epilepsy Ireland (really some wonderful, heartfelt stories and certainly some that I know from personal experience are not always that easy to tell other people about, brave to do it and so very informative for people that have been recently diagnosed. When I first was (well I was kind of diagnosed) some 31 years ago I had no idea where to go to in order to get information, who I could tell or talk to, but as I became a more confident person I decided to own it and I have been very open about my condition ever since. Touch wood I will stay incident free for another year and will continue to never let it dictate my life. This weekend marks the 6th anniversary of the first time I officially shot a Music Festival, HRH AOR 3 (or HRH United as it was, which also combined Hammerfest and Sleaze, was a really great weekend in North Wales and kicked off many trips to the same venue at the Haven Holiday Camp in Hafan Y Mor, Pwllheli. The main hall there is just something they don’t make for venues anymore, lots of thought in the attendees being able to see from wherever they are, 3 tiers leading from the back to the stage large bar and an exit directly into a couple of food venues, with a cpacity of over 2,000 just a great space, and ideal for small Festivals. The black & white image at the top of this post is of Swedish Hard Rock band The Poodles from that very weekend.

We did jump this week and book our family holiday for later in the year, will be staying in Ireland, so that eliminates a number of extra complexities with foreign travel, a beautiful cottage nestled in what looks like some lovely local views in Donegal, I took the below photo of Mukish Mountain from the wonderful Glanveagh National Park, the cottage for this year is just a few minutes drive from the mountain so hopefully will be able to get some nice shots, and we do love the area, so we have no problem with staying close enough to home when the scenery is stunning and we know our way around, slightly new place to stay so good to have some change. We already have some day trips sorted out in our minds and hopefully the little guy will be a little more involved it things this time around, the fresh air is always good for him. Plenty of new explorations and interesting new things to see and learn about. Having a nice break to look forward to is always a good thing for the mental health, just as much as getting out in that beautiful air and exercising helps, having a nice trip to look forward to is definitely another thing that helps.

Mukish Mountain shot from Glanveagh National Park, Co. Donegal in 2019

Reminds me of an old political slogan…….

As I mark the 1 year anniversary of my Heart Surgery it’s probably time to take stock again. Well yes it’s been one of the strangest and most difficult years we all could have had, but to try and recuperate for the majority of the year was a double edged sword. On the one hand with everyone working from home it was somewhat easier to adjust to, after all I’d already been home for a couple of months, but then again knowing that you are now imunocompromised in the whirlwind of a Global Pandemic is definitely a stress marker.

Moon – Nov 2020

Adding to that of course my release of Gigs and Music Photography simply wasn’t available, in the first couple of months before lockdowns began, I just wasn’t either physically able or recovered enough to even think about it, doubt I’d have lasted standing for as long as a support set even. Wasn’t supposed to be doing any exercise for a couple of weeks after I got home, and I know from my own stupidity I should have been heading that advice. Of course there haven’t been any gigs here since, and I’ve gotten the camera out a bit, shooting the moon, garden birds and a trip to the Zoo, some pics littered around this post, but it’s very little for 12 months of time at my age, feels like a lot of wasted time.

So what would I say after 12 months – A Lot Done, More To Do….. once used by Bertie Ahern as a campaign slogan, but sums things up pretty well as to where I stand a year on. I have worked hard for a number of months during that time, losing weight, becoming more physically fit and altering my diet. But that is I guess only part of the story, along with the good feelings from achieving minor goals and targets, the darkness can still seep in, I would be surprised if any of us have been able to completely avoid the shadow of Depression in one for or another over the last year. For me the ups and downs have maybe been less frequent than in a normal year, but also perhaps more severe.

While initially in the first recovery stage things started to close down, so my physical Cardio Rehab was delayed for a couple of months, me rather stupidly starting exercising sooner than I should and pushing too hard too quickly., and dealing with trying to organise care for a relative things got on top of me pretty early into last year, and it’s happened a few times since, doesn’t coordinate directly with lockdowns, that’s for sure, but times of stress, going through a near death of a family member from Covid and all that entailed it makes me ponder the future alongside the present. Whether working in the position I do, or the type of work will be possible long term, I remember talking in the hospital to a couple of more experienced men on the very subject, once was back in suffering from angina (but who had been in and out of the hospital so much in the last 20 years that all the staff in a busy hospital knew him and came up to visit) and the other to have something replaced in a complex operation as overtime things had changed and both had to take early retirement and also scale back the amount/type of work they did. It’s a difficult one to think about, there’s obviously monetary issues involved, that goes without saying, but long term the viability of pushing a body that’s not as strong as it once was may mean that I need to make a decision before it makes the decision for me. Another attack could take any voluntary thoughts on it null and void.

Starling with a nut in the back Garden Dec 2020

But hey, like I say ups and downs and achieving goals has been a big lift. That family member somehow coming through the Covid virus, along with another elderly relative and a couple of friends that were seriously ill, and in reality 8 months on are still recovering. Watching my little boy, who is growing and developing all the time, but still has to work hard and we still have a long way to go, can be frustrating and very noisy, but we will all get there. If the vaccine does get out there quickly enough and spread out there widely enough maybe the 2nd half of 2021 will see some Gigs return to the calendar, when they do restart get out there and get to see your favourite bands, the shows will be amazing with the pent up energy from bands and patrons alike even if there are restrictions involved the atmosphere should be off the charts. There’s of course the slimmer possibility that we get Festivals back of travel for Gigs, at this stage I’d settle for some local stuff to get started.

For now 2021 is still 2020, the problems remain, the virus continues to cause pain and suffering, the hospitals are at full capacity, but we will see how the vaccine’s change things, if indeed they can. For me each week this month I cut out something else that brings me closer to what I should be eating again…..almost back there now, and back to getting proper exercise (do believe the hype, a good walk in fresh air – even if it’s cold is brilliant for your Mental Health), just gotta make sure the blips don’t last longer than a day and become less and less frequent. No hospital appointments until October 2021 and hopefully will be reducing the medications by 1 or two in the coming weeks…….. have managed to avoid Covid up until now, so touch wood can continue to do so until I can get vaccinated, how long that protection lasts time will tell, but one thing is for sure this Virus will be with us just like Flu or the common cold, with much more serious side affects, so people, don’t just decide everything is fixed, be diligent and stay home if you are asked to, stay safe.

Me out Walking, great exercise – Nov 2020

The difficulties of recovery during a lockdown………

Well here I am again, pondering the current state of affairs and how I am coping with it all, and as with most people at the moment no matter where you are on this Globe, there are good days and bad days, positives and disappointments. A main issue for me has certainly been missing out on the professional help through this now lengthy recovery, so not being able to get out there for hospital appointments, which alongside my Cardio Rehab had to be cancelled was difficult to handle to be honest. So missing out on tailored exercise and advice, dietician, psychologist etc…….. with unfortunately no sign of anything being rescheduled in the near future, fingers crossed  all measures continue to work and it can be sorted out soon.

 

Here in Ireland our current restrictions to try and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus are due to end in the next couple of days, and all going to plan we will move into the next phase. That will be followed, assuming all goes well, by 5 x 3 week long phases reducing restrictions each time until the end of August, yep seems like a long time, but hopefully at that stage if all is ok we will be in a much better position. As we already knew live music will be still off the menu until at the very earliest late Sept/Oct, but we really can’t put a proper timescale on it at the moment. More Festivals either postponed or cancelled recently including Bloodstock (postponed to 2021 with an extra day – nice one Bloodstock), Summer Indoors 2020 (postponed to 2021, and Uprising which won’t happen for 2020 now, but will return bigger in 2021. There are still many events that have not yet, but will be cancelled, with bands, promoters etc waiting on the right time for an announcement, holding out hope that things will get back to normal sooner than expected or simply waiting until they have rescheduled the event until they announce the cancellation of the original version. On the positive side, more Tours/shows have been rescheduled for later in the year or for the same time next year.

 

Up until now, and even with that it had only become knowledge to me over the last couple of weeks, I have only known a couple of people that had actually tested positive for coronavirus, and they had all been lucky enough to have contracted a mild dose of it and are already recovered. But sadly that all changed when it really hit close to home and the difficulties other families have run into hit me square in the face. When an elderly member of your family falls ill with this virus alongside the natural worries about them you realise that the other problems associated with the lockdown are affecting you, that you can’t go and visit them, no matter how ill they may become you can only hope they are coherent enough for a video call, or to hear you on the telephone. Once someone tests positive and they will be isolated from the rest of the people in their facility, they may be confused, needing to be reminded about the virus each day should they be suffering from dementia, more than likely they are already suffering from underlying medical issues which will make it more difficult to overcome the effects of the virus, and as the Hospitals do not necessarily have the capacity to take in these patients an increased pressure and burden falls on the care facility they reside in. The message to #stayhome #staysafe is so important, accidentally passing the virus onto an elderly person in the community will have very similar effects, and yet everyday we still see many cases of people not following social distancing guidelines. This will only lead to one thing in the end more infections and a longer time period where we have to isolate/distance/miss out on the normal things in life we had up to this point taken for granted, won’t be taking anything for granted in future.

 

Of course we have in many ways been very lucky on this island that the hospitals were not over run, the very hard working staff and a larger community effort than we have probably seen in decades has helped without a doubt, the actions of Govt to help out employers and employees may be very costly, but in the end will save us so much as a nation. Since I started to write this I had a bit of a mental blockage and it’s ended up taking forever to finish, but hey ho, so many friends have been struggling aswell, mentally, deep dips and no massive highs to balance them out. More shows have bitten the dist this week, Iron Maiden in Belfast cancelled and Rammstien in the same City hopefully rescheduled, along with a few smaller shows. It’s a real shame the Maiden lineup was unreal, with Tempt, Airbourne, Alter Bridge and Maiden headlining, one hell of a lineup. but that’s it in a nutshell, try not to let the disappointments get to you too much, what the future holds, especially for music, how we will be able to socially distance and maintain any sort of a vibe, hold onto an atmosphere, and what it will look and feel like, it’s a mystery. Have been reading a number of articles from various people in the industry and what I’ve garnered most is exactly that fact nobody knows what is going to happen yet.

Bloodstock2021

For me, well, I’m back working a full week, from home, trying to push myself a bit harder physically and lee[ the sanity there is some semblance of tact. None of that is easy, strangely enough, the things I thought would be easiest to control haven’t worked out that way, the diet has been a lot more back on track as my mam recovers slowly, Working hard on my walking, and also stepped things up a bit. Last week managed to hit 8.5km without keeling over, so then got inspired this week by a good friend that is walking 10km+ every day in May to raise some much needed funds for a very good cause, so this week I managed to his 10km for the first time Monday, maintained it on Tuesday and still hit my 10,000 steps today, but not quite the 10km, still it’s a bit increase in workload, so ensuring I’m not pushing too hard, if I need to I’ll back off again for a day and then try and hit back to the higher level again, it’s certainly been difficult at times, trying not to get frustrated with people wandering around the streets ignoring guidelines, or groups of kids that just don’t know or care, but I’ll stick to my back roads, keep doing my loops and looks some weight at the same time, only shed 10 to 11 kg’s so far, but that’s definitely a good start 😉

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So lets keep doing what we need to do, try and keep our minds from going off the reservation, if you are in the situation where you are not or cannot work, get out and get your exercise in the fresh air, it’s a life saver. Sleep certainly hasn’t been good for most people and I’m no different, staying up later and getting up early for work, broken sleep, it’s tiring, but thankfully to date no sign of anything being triggered with my epilepsy, also glad I’ve not really noticed any side affects yet from my heart medications. Video calls with friends, colleagues, family has been something that has become a new social life for many, be it quiz\es or dinner parties or social drinks, it’s just another thing to help people get through it. Have been looking back through old sets of photos checking out Landscapes from visits to the West Coast, I’ve said it many times, but the Wild Atlantic Way on the West Coast of Ireland is simply stunning, and when things eventually get back to some form of normal get yourself out there to see some of the beautiful scenery around your own country, we so often take it all for granted.

#staysafe #stayhome and look after yourselves.

The ongoing recovery update…

Well here we are having rolled into March, this week will mark 2 months since my heart attack and although I’m definitely seeing progress it is still frustratingly slow for me. As with pretty much all recoveries from surgery, but certainly from a major surgery there are good days and bad days in the months that follow. For me the operation itself was the easy bit, which wasn’t how I thought things would be, I knew I needed it so automatically got my head adjusted and of course was slightly nervous, but was eager to get through it. If may have been nearly 3 hours and a lot more difficult than expected for the surgeons, but 3 days after a heart attack I had my new Stents installed and was looking forward to the road to recovery. (to give you some idea of the relative size of a Stent there’s a cover photo above and another below).

Stent-Dr-Murtaza

Two months on and having been at home for almost the whole time since and there has been some elements of going stir crazy, although I have returned to a very limited amount of work action, a lot of days are filled with eating, going out for walks or to the shops and trying to plan various different Hospital visits or to my mam, it’s all go 😉

With the Nursing Home now on lockdown one of my walking routes is currently out of action, but it’s very important that elderly people are exposed as little as possible to the possible threat of virus infection, so it is what it is, phone calls to check things for the moment. In the meantime have gotten some of the administrative stuff progressed a little so that takes a little off my mind, I think it wouldn’t have been possible to sort from now for a couple of months.

ScreenHunter 75

Two weeks ago I had a cardio assessment in the Hospital for my Rehab Classes, all went very well and my classes have now been scheduled, so that’s good, but with the many issues that the spread of Coronavirus is now causing there is a chance that schedule may be thrown into disarray, time will tell, For now I am really hoping to get them started, I’ve gotten my walking up to around 5km a day, which is a good start, but after having a very bad week or so diet wise (well there has definitely been a valley of depression over the whole covid-19 issue, it’s one thing to be isolated because of limited physical activity, quite another to be made stay home due to an increasingly rapidly spreading virus that is more dangerous to me as someone with an underlying condition, don’t get me wrong it doesn’t scare me, but I’m sensible enough to not put myself at further risk for no reason. But this whole situation certainly has it’s effects on mental health, and that can certainly contribute to throwing a well maintained diet out the window for a short period of time, so hopefully back on track now, touch wood, and if we can get the Rehab going it will definitely help.

Was really nice to get out and about yesterday with the camera for the first time this year, just a walk in the grounds of Newbridge House and Farm with the family and a few photos of the scenery and Deer. Luckily have been able to get out for walks once or twice a day most days up till now, have avoided being out in the storms, but my estate is large enough to get out on different routes to avoid monotony and still get me to the 5km+ mark. It’s a very quiet St.Patricks Day today here in Dublin, of course no Parades going on, hundreds of thousands of people in close proximity would be stupid and a breathing ground for new infections, more and more pubs closed and most people that I’m seeing adopting the advice to avoid unnecessary contact etc……..  so was definitely nice to have a wander around some nice grounds yesterday.

The number of people there were understandably smaller than usual, but is as it should be, and aside from passing people on the path or around the park contact is very much at a minimum, none of which of course is bothering the Deer at all, they are happily munching away on grass and relaxing.

 

Sleep patterns have sadly gone right out the window alongside the poor diet over the last while, maybe it’s a little worry about everything in the back of my mind, but no issues with the Epilepsy, no fits, and continue to take medication as I always have, will just keep an eye on it and rest when I need to, being down does not help it, but keeping the brain ticking over steadies me, listening to some new music has lifted things slightly, purchasing some new items and listening to albums I’m due to review on my walks  is definitely the solution. My thoughts go out to anyone in a bad place already that now has to self isolate, if your deep in a hole just reach out to a friend or organisation and have a chat, it will help. Right now it’s looking like most countries in Europe are going to lock down for an unknown period so hang in there.folks, like any other downturn we can all get through this. How the Govt’s go about helping people who are either no longer getting a wage or are in other financial difficulties as a direct result of the Virus has yet to be seen, but hopefully common sense can be impressed upon the Banks so that stress can be lifted.

 

All live Music events in Ireland have been cancelled or postponed for the significant future, right now they are cancelling/postponing events through the end of April and a few in May/June, well you have to understand that Tours span Europe and also span months so anything starting in April and running into May will go, and right now I would personally be surprised if the big gigs planned for June and some of the larger Festivals didn’t get pulled in the coming weeks. I missed out on HRH AOR last week and with their other Fests Hammerfest and HRH Prog IX having also now been cancelled I’d expect HRH Blues to go very soon, it’s just not possible to get artists around the Globe at the moment, nevermind insurance etc…….   was really cool to see Code Orange going ahead with their Album Release the other night in an empty venue but being Livestreamed to fans all over the globe, it will be the way of the future for the moment I think and at least bands and venues can probably recoup some costs from it, remember to go support your local favourite bands, if they can’t play and have had to cancel shows/tours they are losing money and may have t-shirts that were for a Tour that you can go pick up from their website or a CD etc…. and help them survive, same with promoters, if a show is cancelled, don’t just look for a refund, wait for the rescheduled date and if you can’t make it get a refund and buy a ticket for a show later in the year, we all have to help out in these difficult times. So my return to Photographing gigs will quite possibly be pushed back until the 2nd half of 2020, hopefully things will improve quicker than that and some local gigs get back on the calendar quicker but we will have to wait and see, the longer stuff is off the longer it will take to restart.

Most importantly, continue to follow medical advice, thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds, use hand sanitiser where appropriate (mostly entering shops), but get shopping delivered where possible, don’t go sit in a pub all night, don’t sit beside someonre on a bus or train when there are spare seats, or avoid using at all if possible, the reality is even looking at the UK they are hoping to keep the number of deaths under 20,000 – right now there are 56, just think that if they expect the peak in a month or two so at some point there the Death rate would be well over 1000 per week, some very difficult times ahead, no matter where you live, so stay safe, do what you are asked from a safety perspective and we can all get back to normal at some point and start doing the things we love again – I’m going to get back to writing reviews (yeah I know I say that on every update, but I’m working on them).

Love and light to all    DevilsHorns DevilsHorns

The next step on the road to recovery……..

Well it’s been just over 3 weeks since my Heart Attack, and I guess my impatience is starting to grow, as I mentioned last time I would not be the best patient in the world.  There are no hard and fast methods or details on how far you should push yourself during recovery. With regards to exercise I did manage to find an example table of distances to walk within time periods from week 1 to 6 following the attack/operation, on the Scottish Heart Foundations website. What I had initially forgotten about/ignored was that Week 1 does not start until 10 days after the Attack itself, meaning I’d started longer distances way too early, of course everyone is different, but I walking too fast too quickly. Very hard to balance a walking pace when you are naturally a fast walker, but will continue to try.

 

Food wise, well I’m not saying I wouldn’t destroy a large bar of chocolate right now, but the dietary changes have not been as difficult as first expected, being someone that eats a lot of potato and used to eat a lot of fruit and veg it’s just simply been a case of swapping fruit in as snacks and adjusting meals to be a lot more veg based, not a massive problem, eating breakfast every morning and working on 3 square meals a day hasn’t been too difficult at home, but when I go back to work it will all become a little more difficult….. massive reduction in my salt intake alongside sugars, no sweets or fizzy drinks since it happened, The odd treat will happen every now and then, but if I can stick to what I am doing and maybe add in some foods that I don’t normally eat then the variation will help the situation as well, it would be nice if there was a safer alternative to salt as a flavouring agent .Plenty of stuff to learn with regards to meals, nutrients etc, working hard on what is probably the most important part of the process and that’s getting correct portion size, which is certainly one thing that was out of control.

 

It is quite difficult to figure out what to do in the period between being discharged from the Hospital after the operation and the time Cardio Rehab begins, obviously we are all different and levels of exercise alongside the rate we can increase workouts. Having found to my detriment the danger of pushing too far too soon, it’s careful one step at a time stuff now. and try and rest up as much as possible. At this point I still have to figure out how the transition back to work will happen, but will discuss that with my own Doctor, the relevant parties and something will be worked out, the benefit of having a very understanding employer can not be overstated, they have been excellent. Taking the extra time required to be ready to return to that environment will hopefully make all the difference, Still hoping that I’ll be able to make the HRH AOR Festival in 5 weeks, it’s a goal I’ve set myself, but if it’s not possible the decision to be made will be to for health reasons and not just feelings.

 

The lineup of gigs and Festivals for the year will no doubt have to be amended, don’t think there’s any chance I’ll be able to do so many back to back events, but will see what can be managed sensibly, and also if we can get photography back on track. Haven’t picked up a camera since before Christmas, so perhaps that’s the next step in my recovery, next week is the aim just taking some photos of the birds in the back garden, and besides there is a new lens to try out.

 

We are all smothered with a heavy cold now, so that’s certainly not helping this morning, but hopefully that will pass over the weekend and I need to get to the Doctors on Monday morning to sort a few things out, there is always something else to do.

Stay safe and look after yourselves……picked up a little capsule last week that holds a couple of asprins in case of emergency and attaches to your keyring so alongside my spray I think that will be coming out with me everywhere from now on.

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One more Festival to go……

It really has been a hectic couple of months, have shot or attended a number of Festivals in July/August/September so far and one more to on the books this coming weekend. A little over a week ago it was HRH Sleaze in Sheffield, another cracking weekend with some great sets from old and new bands alike, a cracking atmosphere and again a really good variety of styles.

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Davy Vain & his band VAIN headlining HRH Sleaze III

It’s been difficult to keep up with the writing as my head’s been in a bit of a whole lately, nothing picking it up yet either, the little guy picking up a nasty bug and trying to keep my mother on track certainly hasn’t made things any easier, and the madness of work really pushes you to the edge. But hey getting away for some music is great, really helps to keep you sane.

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Just about got everything tidied up from Ramblin’ Man Fair, some writing to do from Sleaze and next up we’ve got Uprising 4 in Leicester, first time in that City, and in interesting Heavy lineup with the likes of Napalm Death, Acid Reign, Godthrymm all taking to the stage alongside a number of up and coming local bands, should be really interesting.

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After that still have some trips this year for gigs, not sure I’ll try and shoot any of them, but still will be good breaks away. Especially looking forward to hitting Nottingham for a couple of days in December to catch AlterBridge/Shinedown/Sevendust one night, followed by Dan Reed Network/FM/Gun the next……that will be a great weekend and will hopefully be able to catch up with some friends along the way.

This has been a very mixed bag of a year, but have thankfully been able to shoot a lot of bands in different places, including some at home, most recently at the always excellent Unleashed Festival in Dublin. Keep an eye out for Fornoth, those lads have something that just might elevate them to something special.

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Fornoth – Unleased Festival 2019

On the health side, so far touch wood another year Fit free, so continuing to manage my Epilepsy even though I think over time the medication is making me more and more lethargic, alongside that sleep patterns have been really bad recently, so will hopefully not tax the body too much at Uprising. Mentally, well I see more and more friends stuggle and just think we are all going through this stuff now, added stresses of everything, seem much less than what our parents may have had to deal with, but the immediacy of life now has brought with it a whole new raft of problems.

If you have time and like music go check out my Ramblin’ Man Fair reviews, Day 1 & 2 are up there at the moment on the Reviews page, just click on the link and Day 3 as soon as it’s published. Photo Galleries for everything will continue to be posted when I can and will hopefully get back to posting a couple of Blog posts here and there again.

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Rick Nielsen – Cheap Trick – Ramblin’ Man 2019

Sadly my trusty, and also my standard for concerts, Sigma 24-70mm lens has died, happened at the most inappropriate moment of course just before travelling to HHR Sleaze, so will be on the lookout for a replacement, but managed to get through the Sleaze Festival with a 35mm f2 Canon prime lens, so hopefully it will also do the job at Uprising, but would really prefer to be bringing something a little wider, so may try and grab a second hand 18-35mm lens somewhere, we will see, time is short. Will hopefully get a few days away in between everything else and see some nice scenery 😉  with a bit of luck.

 

Sometimes we get thrown a nice curveball……

Was still rather disappointed with the cancellation of Amplified Festival, and missing the opportunity to shoot a number bands for the first time and some of my favourites, but these things happen, and had resigned myself to staying home this coming weekend. Then out of the blue you see a message that intrigues you, initially you go, no, not possible, can’t be done, but you decide to check out the details, the travel options, accommodation etc….etc….

But still, there’s no way, it can’t be done……so this is my Sunday…..many hours of option checking, re-checking, deliberating, questioning, pricing, saying no, and eventually saying yes. So with many planes, trains and automobiles to come over the next 4 days I’m off to Photograph and Review the Ramblin’ Man Festival in Maidstone in Kent, haven’t managed to make it over to this Festival for a couple of years, so really looking forward to being in that chilled out atmosphere again, and a great lineup this year, along with a couple of acts that were playing the list time I was there, including the mighty Airbourne, and headliners The Darkness and the legends that are Foreigner. The third headliner I managed to see at home here in Dublin last night, and Black Stone Cherry were on fire.

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Not their first time closing out that main stage but they are a great live act, so should be a great set to look forward to. Another 2 RMF acts were on the bill last night, the excellent Kris Barras Band and OTIS both of whom are well worth checking out.

 

This particular Festival has a bit of everything, lots of Rock, Metal, Blues, Prog, Country and a stage just for up and coming bands, it works, and it’s a great way of doing things. Everything from Beth Hart and Kenny Wayne Sheppherd to Anathema, to Foreigner, some really top acts like Cheap Trick, there really should be something for everyone. This time around

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So it’s time to get off and finish the packing, and try to get some sleep…..it’s been sorely lacking this week, so could do with a few hours before it all kicks off, could do with another week to prepare and relax a little 😉  not likely. So although it’s going to be a full on weekend I need to also make sure I do some of the sensible things, eat, take on liquids, take tablets at close to the correct times, and try and sleep a little, just a little. So expect lots of updates over the weekend most especially on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and see you all on the other side. Although the stress isn’t really good for the mental health, the elation of the event itself certainly tends to balance that off.

So many gigs ;-)

Where have the first 3 months of the year gone, wow they really have flown in. On a personal level, I’ve made it to a decent number of gigs, managed to shoot roughly 50% of those and a lot more in the pipeline, on the downside, have missed a couple of shows due to ill health, which is never any fun, and have been extremely over tired of late, which definitely doesn’t lead to a good place.

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Ted Poley – HRH AOR VII – 16-03-2019

Since returning from this years excellent HRH AOR VII festival which took place in Prestatyn it’s just been crazy, not much time to get anything done. Have got the photos pretty much finished, and just have to plough through some of the review and finish up a review of The Ocean Collective show in Dublin last week, and as soon as that’s done there are more albums, but so so many gigs getting announced at the moment it’s unreal. It doesn’t matter who you are, as you age it becomes more and more difficult to get to as much as you want to, and even then it’s difficult to organise work/home/gigs, that balance is becoming impossible, so this year I’m getting to absolutely as much as I can and next year may be very quiet.

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Chris Green – Tyketto – HRH AOR VII

 

So with new shows just added to my own list for Machine Head, and a number of bands later in the year I’ve found I’m also adding stuff in the near future I didn’t think I could get to, so looking now like Jizzy Pearl and Mike Tramp in Ahoghill next month, and also with a work trip to London next month I’ve managed to schedule an Avantaisa gig, so happy days. Tonight it’s my first chance to get to see Cellar Darling, should be an interesting set. with support from another new band to me, Appearance of Nothing.

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The Ocean Collective – Voodoo Loungt, Dublin – 22-03-2019

Next wee it’s a triple header, Dead Label in Dublin on Friday night (with some great supports), Jizzy Pearly in Ballymena on Sat and hopefully The Black Dahlia Murder on Sunday back in Dublin…….then it’s just a week to HRH Blues in Sheffield and the previously mentioned Avantasia in London…..all of fun and lots of hard work ahead……..

Ana Popovic with Ben Poole supporting kicks into May with another London trip, along with Cormac Neeson’s solo show in Dublin and Whiskey Myers. June is mental, July starting to fill up now, August sees Bloodstock, the Bash and HRH Sleaze III straddles August into September. Rocktober is building up and as always November/December will busy.

 

Gig Time ;-) lets get 2019 started..

Finally, after a few unscheduled changes, bloody flu, and a rather bad start to the year which has seen friends lose those near and dear it is time I got out and went to a gig. First on my calendar was a trip to London the weekend before last to catch a 5 band lineup at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, one of the few venues I’ve not attended there This time around there are some bands I was lucky enough to shoot last year at different Festivals, but this time around it’s just a fun trip. Just took a long a little point & click camera for some momentos.

It was an absolutely cracking night and I have to say Skid Row have improved so much with ZP in just 10 months since HRHAOR last March, they look lean and hungry and sound a lot better too, which is great. But the lineup overall tonight was very strong, sadly due to a stupid mistake on my part I was delayed getting in and only managed to catch the end of the Killit set, but there was certainly enough there to make me want to see these guys again, so until next time. Next up were the always excellent VEGA, and once again the guys played a really good set, one hard working band and as always a very energetic Nick Workman led the band through a set that got people moving.

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Nick Workman of VEGA

 

Having not seen HEAT for quite a while I was really looking forward to catching them again, and in reality them being on the bill was a major reason for the trip, and as always they just don’t disappoint, the energy of frontman Erik Grönwall is just so infectious you just can’t help wanting to move along with him. Cracking set, with tracks from the most recent release Into The Great Unknown, and the newer tracks sounded great, especially kicking off with “Bastard Of Society” which set a marker for rest of the set.

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Erik Grönwall just keeps going from the moment he explodes onto the stage

The set is made up of not only new songs but great tracks like “Breaking The Silence”, “Living On The Run” and what is now a definite in the set “Mannequin Show”, this band are still on the rise, and live they are just always spectacular. The amount of people on the floor now during this set has dramatically increased as we move towards the last two bands of the night.

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H.E.A.T. – Jimmy & Crash

 

The penultimate band on the show tonight are none other than Sweden’s very own Backyard Babies, these guys were really excellent headlining HRH Sleaze back in September last year, tonight they working through the difficulty of Nicke being down with flu, but the show must go on and these guys are still determined to give the crowd all they can, and nobody can ever ask for more. They are not all about tricks and gimmicks, sound very different from everyone else playing tonight and I really enjoyed this set. I guess they had to change up the Set a bit  and tracks like “A Song For The Outcast” are great to hear. It is certainly not easy for any singer to be on top form when under the weather, but he worked his way through the set very ably and managed to turn in a very good performance with a slightly different set containing perhaps some of the less upbeat BB songs, but no less entertaining and a really good lead into the Headliners, hopefully we will see these guys back again really soon, could certainly never be thrown in the same pigeon hole as so many other rock bands, their music contains so many different elements, mixing electric and acoustic brilliantly, with songs that tell stories, love them or hate them we need more bands like the Backyard Babies.

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And then it was time for the Headliners, a band I’d only seen 10 months previously at HRH AOR 6, and this performance all around was so much better, the guys are looking lean and mean and were just so up for it. The guys are on top form and just powered their way through, with big guns right from the start, opening up with a monster version of “Slave To The Grind” and just running like a freight train through a set littered with their classic hits, slowing things down here and there with “18 And Life” the beautiful “I Remember You” with a massive crowd sing along.

As mentioned I’d seen the band headlining at HRH AOR last March, and to me although it was a good set, here and there it dipped a bit and ZP’s vocals were certainly not as powerful in the 2nd half of that set, no such issues here start to finish this was full on and the crowd could see how much effort has been going into this. Tonight we get a haunting version of “In A Darkend Room” that somehow managed to fit perfectly with the rest of the set, and this show is a massive success, great response from a full house, a band absolutely loving themselves, brilliant to see, with a new album in the works there is plenty to come from these guys, and they can only finish the tonight on one song, “Youth Gone Wild” and they absolutely smash it, a great trip away in a cold and rainy January, this warms the heart and lifts me to push forward for the rest of the year, got for the mind, if not always the body.

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Skid Row – O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London

 

Last weekend it was back to the UK for a trip to Birmingham to catch the mighty King King being supported by the wonderful Sari Schorr, check out my review of the night here – King King – Town Hall, Birmingham – 01-02-2019 – and it really was a cracking night all around.

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King King – Town Hall, Birmingham – 01-02-2019

This weekend hopefully will be shooting Behemoth in Dublin, this will be a special show, Sold Out in Vicar Street has seen both the band and the Promoter (DME Promotions) come a long way since their first show here. Still more gigs being added every couple of days, and all the time having to try and keep my Brain functioning better and stave off being overtired (the storm outside will not help that this evening. But grabbing sleep where I can, trying to avoid putting anymore stress on top of what is already there. Hopefully this weekend blows some of the cobwebs away and we get back on track for the many shows ahead.

Planning for a new year, or as it’s more commonly known logistics madness ;-)

I’m pretty open about things in life, and I’m not always sure that it is such a good thing, but at the same time it’s better than being so closed off that nobody on the planet knows who you are, and from a Mental perspective it can definitely help when you aren’t completely isolated in your own head, so talking to people about some of the difficulties of trying to look after your mother and when your little boy needs a little more attention than others has helped me not go over the deep edge in the last month, but it’s definitely been touch and go at times. Stress levels through the roof, not sleeping, generally feeling crap, but I’ve decided to still call this week part of last year as it contained a day – next week we start afresh, got to start getting into work for 7am and out at 4 again, it won’t be easy to get back into that rhythm of early mornings again, but it’s getting too difficult to get from work, to mams and home again before my wife goes to work, change the times and reduce some of the stress……..  have to get a family holiday in the mix too, and this time around on the Wild Atlantic Way we are planning to finish off County Donegal and finally get a look at the famous cliffs at Slieve League, they look amazing, so camera will be brought along and we will see if we can catch some birds, wildlife, butterflies insects anything really around the cliffs too, a bit of nature certainly won’t hurt us, maybe even another trip later in the year if we can stretch to it.

 

So it being early January, Christmas done and dusted and the Gig/Festival list for 2019 damn full already for someone who’s time isn’t really his own, it’s Logistics time, when planning travel to a show or a Festival it’s not all about the Flight prices, a lot of the time it’s about making things work, Flying to a different Airport because it’s cheaper and you have to get a Train/Bus anyway, or flying into one place and out another because you have more flight options on the way back. So far I’m already bringing on the madness certainly for one show in March, where I’m staying in East Midlands Airport after a show in Nottingham and getting the 6:30am return flight to Dublin, but hey one more time on the red eye won’t kill me – will it ?

 

Flight out to a Fest in March sorted, but the flight back is causing me a lot of stress, flying back on St. Patricks Day to Dublin really shouldn’t be a big deal, especially as it’s a Sunday, but apparently it is and all Airlines have hiked up the prices very significantly, but looks like I’ll just have to bite the bullet and take the hit, but it’s very annoying…….the extra money for a single flight would pay for return flights for another show., but there has to be some reason for it as flights from other UK Airports on the same day are not really expensive, if you can figure out the weird combination of prices that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks you are a better person than me, seeing a hotel that you stayed in last April for more than double the price is mindboggling……….. And initially planning to go to just one day of Bloodstock next year, but bloody hell, with bands I really want to see Friday and Sunday it’s gotta be a weekend, Fri-Sunday anyway, ticket bought more planning to do. Might try and get an Arena Photo Pass this time around. Would love to have the Privilege of shooting a Festival I really love. Also hoping to get to Amplified for the first time this year, with the people that I know involved with the Festival and the good things I’ve heard it sounds right up my street, and I love the lineup too 😉

 

This coming year will certainly be the last that I will be able to make a decent number of Festivals, more time will be taken up with  family, and I think by the time those situations change I will certainly be retired from the perspective of hitting 6-7 Fests a year, even if my own health holds up, age will eventually take it’s toll on top of everything else, but until then full steam ahead. On top of that I’m hoping to get to shoot a lot more smaller local shows this year, get back to Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Heats which start on Jan 19th. If all goes to plan it should be a very interesting, busy and rewarding year so time to light the touchpaper.