It has been a bizarre summer in terms of live gigs.
On one side I wasn’t very keen of going here and there shooting music because I was concentrated on a different photographic project.
On the live music side many things went wrong.
First the artists: Prince above all, Jack White, Neutral Milk Hotel and Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon to close. I am a big fans of all of them, they are not big fans of photographers which means either I went to see the gig without cameras (Neutral Milk Hotel) or I didn’t go at all (Prince, Jack White).
Then there was the Jabberwocky/ATP festival cancellation. One of the most outrageous behaviour I have ever seen, but I will not write about it because there is nothing more to write. The internet is plenty of insightful analysis that all bring to the only reasonable conclusion: whoever is the responsable they didn’t care of the fans but only of the money.
It’s capitalism, baby.
My friend came from Italy for this and, in addition of struggling to refund the festival ticket, has paid a flight, a stay and everything. We had a nice countryside canoe ride on the River Cam up to Grantchester Meadows, though, which was nice and very Pink Floydy.
So back in Cambridge and back in time, since I don’t like leaving this blog abandoned and I am plenty of photos of gigs that I haven’t used, I fished out a concert that happened in Cambridge in May.
Pulled Apart by Horses played a tiny date at the Portland Arms. If you read me you now know this delightful pub with annexed one of the best music space in Cambridge.
It’s the right time now to get those shots out of the hard disk now.
Pulled Apart By Horses (also known as PABH) have been on the scene for a while. Following the classic indie band trajectory, they formed in Leeds in 2008, putting together the rests of dissolved bands. They released singles and demoes as everyone until they were noticed and signed by Transgressive records to release their self titled debut in 2010.
Despite this, it’s live that the band has always gathered its followers. Exploring the post-hardcore genre that has been going around in UK since the start of the decade, together with the like of Blood Red Shoes, Rolo Tomassi, Future of the Left and several more, PABH raucous shows became the worst kept secret of the underground UK scene.
The second album was out a couple of years later, Tough Love. BBC mentioned it as their album of the week, it cemented their success and increased their following. Together with continuous sold out dates in bigger and bigger venues all around the country including festival stages that are increasing in size under their feet.
A third album has been expected for a long time and that time has come. It will be out next week, 1st of September 2014, on a new label, Best of The Best Records, with a sheer title: Blood.
When PABH came to the Portland Arms, about 3 months ago, there were no rumours on the new album release, despite it was obvious. The above mentioned “indie-rock trajectory” implies that they were due an album somewhere around this year.
This was a special night with The Witches opening (another must see live band) for them. In a 150 people crammed venue. All the ingredients for the punk-night of the year were set.
And the punk night of the year, it was.
All volumes set to 11. T-shirt quickly left space to bare chests. Girls and boys having their wild night out experience. Tom Hudson screams set the energy level to maximum and all the rest followed.
I am not a big punk hardcore fan and if I have to mention one thing I don’t digest of it is the singing.
I appreciate the fast 2 minute songs and the fast music that tonight breaks the world records flowing at a pace of five hundred miles an hour but the singing is my problem.
I love the uncoordinated energy releasing mad dancing of the moshpits. I love the crowd surfing and the band surfing moments.
I like the sweating that for a hour let me think that UK ain’t that cold in the end. And I loved, surely more than the Portland Arms owners, the dismount of the ceiling due to a crowd-surf slightly more vigorous than the health and safety specs.
I could stay here mentioning anyone from Ramones to McLusky. Venturing into a political essay on Dischord and Washington DC scene all to attempt a poor review of this gig but I am a photographer and will not.
I think nothing better than these pitures can convince you that as soon as Blood is out, attending one of Pulled Apart By Horses gig would rejuvenate your soul.
Meeting fellow photographers in a pit is common. After few years going from one venue to another you realise that, despite the growing number of concert shooters that coined the saying “there’s more concert photographers than concerts”, we are a limited bunch and we know each other, at least locally.
What is less common is to meet one of the greatest concert photographers of all time in a Cambridge pub backroom. Steve Gullick is a legend of and beyond music photography.
Personally he is responsible together with Jim Marshall to have pulled me into this exciting journey of shooting gigs (even on film, but that journey is someway stopped, with regret, for now). So he’s behind the concept of this blog too.
I crossed my path with Steve already, at another couple of gigs. I remember Josh T-Pearson at the Union Chapel, Mogwai at the Junction in Cambridge and probably some Mark Lanegan’s too.
But having the chance for a chat is rare in those minutes before the show starts.
Tonight I finally succeed to have a quick chat and we decide to go for a pint at some point, point that I’ll make it happen soon.
For the ones who do not know Steve, he is probably the man that has been closer to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain after Courtney Love. He followed the band, the whole madness of Seattle “grunge” and punk SubPop scene from the beginning. He is author of incredible album covers from the legendary USA scene to latest Foals and Smoke Faires. Steve basically photographs pretty much any artist I am in love with.
Gullick’s photography is on film, mostly, is B&W, mostly, hand processed by him in his darkroom, mostly, very contrasted, saturated, mostly, unusual in angle and lenses used, mostly, and… in a word (and one adjective)… utterly fascinating.
In a world where all music photographs look the same, three songs rule kill creativity. A world where all promo portraits are done in a 30 seconds slot taken next to a fence of a festival backyard or in front of a dressing room, Steve manages to maintain his unique style.
A friend of mine and another great photographer told me that Steve plays in a rock band too: Tenebrous Liars. They are good!
I know this because a couple of years ago I bought their vinyl. The reason was the original Gullick hand-printed landscape on the cover but I put on my dusty turntable the vinyl and I got to love the music inside.
Few months ago, instead, Steve embarked in a huge project on pledge music to make a 200 pages book on Nirvana and their years a reality.
It goes without saying I managed to pledge for a signed copy the day it was launched and now that the book has finally been crowd-funded I am looking forward to receiving it, hopefully in front of that pint.
There is still time to grab a copy of Nirvana’s Diary here and even some original signed prints.
Which you must do if you have ever appreciated this little blog and even if you do not.