FROG - 10 Years in Live Music by Gregory Nolan

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Ten years ago this month, I took my first live music photo. It felt like something clicked right from the start—both what I wanted to be photographing and the place I wanted to be. I spent the next four years actively working in the London music scene, and living in all the chaos and good times that went along with it.

Realising this was a ten-year mark sent me looking back through the photos from those times, and remembering all of the people and places that were part of my life in those days. The cornerstone of my life at the time was a club night called FROG, which is where I got my start, and where lots of the London music greats also mark as a starting place. Everyone comes from somewhere, and this was a darn lucky place for me.

FROG took place every Saturday night in a club called the Mean Fiddler under the Astoria music venue—a building that was knocked down to build the Overground rail line. Saturday nights for a year and a half I was there, taking photos of the bands, the crowds, the musicians, the scene. Going back through these photos has made me realise what a wild time and place it really was.

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Since I was just starting as a photographer, some of the photos are not “good” in a technical sense. There’s noise, some are out of focus, light was a serious challenge for me. I had a Nikon Cool Pix 5700 (just a little bigger and better than a normal point and shoot camera), and it wasn’t up to the environment I was shooting in. I look back at some of these photos and I cringe a bit—the technical quality just  isn’t there. But I’m also so glad I have these—they’re documenting a moment and an attitude and a full spectrum of people and activity that I’ve never seen in the same way since.

I’m currently trying to get my head around what to do with these photos. I have a few ideas, and some of the people I knew back in the day have had a few more. What I know for now is that this is an anniversary to celebrate, and a great time of my life to remember.

I’m so incredibly lucky to get to do what I do with my life. And lucky, also, for the place and people who helped me get my start.

The Places I Have Been... by Gregory Nolan

Get your hands in the air, Koln, Germany.

Get your hands in the air, Koln, Germany.

This post has to cover a lot of ground—I’ve been so busy with various projects that I haven’t had a chance to really update the blog since South Africa. So I’m going to try to capture the highlights of my time on tour with Bastille over the past three months—starting with the Brit Awards in London and ending up in Nashville. This is only a quick taste and a few stories, as there is a much larger plans for all the photos I have taken and still to take! 

The Brit Awards

I have never seen a band more honestly giddy over an honour like this. The day of the Awards was fabulous, from the nervous tension before hand (including the band repeating over and over that they were just glad to be there) through their performance with Rudimental (“Bastimental” for the day), and through to the announcement of the awards and the celebrations with family and friends after. They have worked so hard and come so far, so of course the “Best British Breakthrough Act” is richly deserved!

'Bastimental' performing after they collected their 'Best Breakthrough Act' Award, Brit Awards, London, England.

'Bastimental' performing after they collected their 'Best Breakthrough Act' Award, Brit Awards, London, England.

Backstage, I got some great shots backstage of the gang getting ready and trying to hide their nerves. During the performance, photographers with bands (like me) had to stay at the very back of the arena. Obviously this was a challenge, but I’m still quite happy with some of the distance/atmospheric shots I got of the band on stage.

Dan backstage before their award acceptance... Brit Awards, London.

Dan backstage before their award acceptance... Brit Awards, London.

The UK tour

This was a huge arena tour in the UK, with exceptional production and lighting. It was kind of overwhelming when I first saw the size of the lighting rig and the accompanying crew, and realized just how much these guys have taken off over the course of Bad Blood album tours. The production quality, from sound to the video projections running behind the band just made the experience a thrilling one for the crowds. This changed how I worked as a photographer as well, with lots more strobes and flashing lights that obviously has a big impact on how I shoot and how I am able to capture certain angles and moments on the stage. 

It kicked off in Manchester, England. 

It kicked off in Manchester, England. 

Walking about, Manchester, England.  (Not for the faint hearted...)

Walking about, Manchester, England.  (Not for the faint hearted...)

Woody from above, Alexander Palace, London, England. 

Woody from above, Alexander Palace, London, England. 

Newcastle, England. 

Newcastle, England. 

Europe was a blast as well, with some pretty spectacular actions from the fans. There were some huge venues and a a few beers.... There were some lovely crowds as well, like fans coordinating to have hundreds of signs and a really impressive flashlight display in Oblivion.

Kyle having a laugh in Amsterdam, Holland. 

Kyle having a laugh in Amsterdam, Holland. 

The US Tour

This continued during the US tour. One of the coolest parts of the series of tours this year has been the transformation in Bastille in the US. I wasn’t along for the previous Bastille US tours, but they were all on the smaller side. After all the hard work, the band has started seeing massive success in America, including being voted the “most anticipated act at Coachella.” Absolutely mind-blowing.

Dan takes a look at the small gathering at Edgefest, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Dan takes a look at the small gathering at Edgefest, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Getting ready for Emo's in Austin, Texas, USA.

Getting ready for Emo's in Austin, Texas, USA.

Coachella.... this was just nuts. USA.

Coachella.... this was just nuts. USA.

Game face time with Will, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Game face time with Will, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Chest banging good times in Tempe, Arizona, USA.

Chest banging good times in Tempe, Arizona, USA.

I also did a bit of filming and photo shoots of the band doing some studio stuff on the road. I can’t share more details, but let me just say that this band works damn hard. When they’re not performing or doing promos (plus a bit of goofing around), they’re working on their music and getting ready for more work to come. It’s an inspiration to be along for the ride.

And more tours to come…

The 2014 Bad Blood tour so far has taken me from Cape Town to Manchester to London, from Prague to Paris to Milan, from Los Angeles to Nashville. It’s taken me on a Segway tour (Was ace!) and a private tour through NASA in Houston plus a load of other stuff like 'pogo dancing' in a Nashville dive bar while real cowboys danced with their ladies. I shot huge gigs and tired backstage moments, and got some footage I absolutely can’t wait to share with everyone. It is some of my best. Photos I never knew I could get.  Photo I always wanted to take. Was just the best. 

The photos I’m releasing with this blog post are a bit smaller in number than usual. I’m going to have to wait for your patience—I promise there’s more coming soon.

Until then, thanks for the great tour and your messages everyone! I hope to catch you back on the road soon.

Spot of shopping in Austin, Texas, USA.

Spot of shopping in Austin, Texas, USA.

Print Store Now Open! by Gregory Nolan

Signing some prints... (This is all so weird) 

Signing some prints... (This is all so weird) 

At long last, prints are now available through the online store

This is a long time coming and I’m really excited to launch with this first set of photos, and see what comes of this. 

The first set for sale is a selection of six wildlife photos taken while on tour with Bastille in South Africa. I displayed this set for the first time in a physical exhibit as part of a popup restaurant night in Dublin on Friday. The positive response has encouraged me to push forward with selling my prints—they look absolutely amazing when printed on this high-grade paper, and I truly want to see my work getting out and ending up in people’s homes. 

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These are fine arts prints, printed by a great Dublin company called Inspirational Arts, by a team who are insanely committed and proud of their art. So far they are available only in the UK and Ireland while I figure out issues of international shipping further afield. If anyone is desperately excited to purchase a print elsewhere, get in touch and I’ll figure things out faster. 

This is exciting timing as there are some developments coming to sell music photography as well. Keep an eye out for announcements in the VERY near future on that front. 

I have wanted to sell prints of my photos for years now. I can’t wait to get a music set up as well. For now, I’m really excited to share these photos from the Bastille safari days—I loved photographing the animals and the landscapes. I looked for the same kinds of emotion and stillness in the wildlife photos as I try to capture with bands. 

I look forward to feedback from you, and hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do. Here’s to a big step forward for me! 

Pop into the store here!

Frank Turner At The O2 Arena, London by Gregory Nolan

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Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls have just finished their most recent tour: a circuit of arena shows around the UK. They performed for over 40,000 fans last week at shows in the largest venues across the country: Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth, London, and Portsmouth.

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What is most impressive about the O2 show is more than just the fact that Frank has now played the largest indoor music venue in the country.

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It’s that he did it with as much joy and connection with the audience as he had in the early days in Nambucca. He can play “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” and while he’s outgrown the lyrics the crowd is still right there with him, singing along. It’s a real testament to him as a musician and performer. He knows his fans, and man—an arena show like this really proves that his fans know and love him and have stuck through his journey from tiny pubs to the arena floor.

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For about half the show he had Cahir playing guitar, which meant I got some awesome shots of him dominating the stage—he’s really gotten the hang of performing without a guitar in his hands.

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As if all this wasn’t enough, this show also had pyrotechnics. Talk about a flare for the dramatic.