Its spring 1979 and I’m loitering at the school gates waiting for the start of day. Not just another day though, as that day was to change my life musically. Through the school gates walks a guy, long shoulder length hair, denim jeans and a jacket that had AC/DC plastered all over the back. That iconic red and yellow logo was to resonate with me and little did I know at the time, was to become the start of a great musical journey that still continues today.
Roll on 9 months to November and I’m standing outside the Hammersmith Odeon in London. My taste in music had changed somewhat, along with my appearance , my hair had grown longer and I wore a denim jacket adorned on the back with an embroidered AC/DC logo and Scorpions written in studs. Yeah I know, a few people, including my father, said how ridiculous I looked but they were great times and I loved being part of the rock fraternity. More importantly, I had a ticket in my hand for AC/DC and excited was an understatement. My first gig and an event I’m my life that left such an impression not to mention an acoustic and visual experience that I will never forget. That was 40 years ago, Bon Scott was still alive and Rick Allen, drummer in Def Leppard who were the support on that day, still had 2 arms.
Those were the days and now a long time ago. To their credit many of the bands of that era are still playing today and, in some cases still in the big arena’s around the world but opportunities to see these heroes of mine are few and far between. It’s good to know then, that alongside these bands, are dedicated musicians, and fans alike, recreating the sounds in pubs, clubs and smaller venues up and down the country and, in some cases, the visual spectacle to go with it.
Over the years I have seen a few tribute bands. Guns2Roses, The Australian Pink Floyd Experience, Limehouse Lizzy and The Meat Loaf Story to name a few and you have to admire those who seek to recreate their sound. Having seen the originals and heard the music it gives some perspective on how much they strive to deliver a true reflection of the real thing. Tribute bands now play a major part in the music scene and, for me, deliver so many memories of the past, not to mention a good night out. On many occasions I have stood, closed my eyes and been transported back all those years to when I was younger, watching my idols perform.
As with all musicians, the dedication, passion, preparation and time that they put into their craft is admirable. You soon realise that it’s not just about the craft itself as there are gig’s to organise, promotional and marketing work to be published, equipment to lug around to and a whole bunch of other stuff to go with it. For the majority, this is done in their spare time and along with their day jobs, all consuming. The motivation? Aside from the potential commercial benefits, for most it is purely the love of the music itself.
Back in March, and the last weekend before the lockdown, I got to shoot dirty jACkDC, an AC/DC tribute band, at the Mill in Banbury. I’ve shot previous dirty jACkDC gigs, but this was different given that Motorpace, a Motorhead tribute band, were on the same bill. Two of my old favourites on the same bill and both I have seen live many times in the past.
Shooting a gig takes me back to the old photos of concerts I used to see in the music press of the day. I admire the photographers back then. Can’t have been easy without the modern digital equipment and software that is available today. So many variables with constantly changing lighting and movement yet at the same time trying to capture the moment and mood of the gig. There have been some iconic photo’s over the years, Ed Caraeff (Jimi Hendrix), Annie Leibovitz (The Rolling Stones) and Gijsbert Hanekroot (Led Zeppelin) to name a few. Wonderful images which give the viewer a real sense of atmosphere and emotion that these performers give.
Motorpace, (Pace, Miles, Andy and Ethan), delivered a powerful set full of energy and drive. Pace looking the part with the black cavalry hat, sideburns and brandishing that iconic Rickenbacker bass guitar and Miles with his black Flying V clearly enjoying his time on stage.
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A great set and setting a raucous tone for the night. dirty jACkDC, not to be outdone, arrived on stage to their grand intro and waded into a set list that included, well, everything really. Ripping through classics like ‘Highway To Hell’, ‘Back In Black’, ‘Let There Be Rock’ and of course, the irrepressible ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’. All played with the same enthusiasm and, at times, I could close my eyes’ and be transported back to that night in ’79 at the Odeon.
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It was a pleasure to be able to practice my craft in such a difficult environment not to mention doing this all the while my favourite music is playing in the background. I really hope my photography captured the atmosphere at the time, it has certainly provided me with many good memories of that night at The Mill.
If rock is the music you’re into, then go see these two great bands. Even if its not then still go for a great night out. Great music by passionate guys just loving what they are doing. For more information on both of these bands and where they are playing just click on thier logos below.
Here is a taste
whats in store!!