Their most recent tour was in February this year, and while a London date wasn’t on the itinerary, Brighton was. Having not shot a band for my soundcheck project for a good year or so, it was the perfect opportunity; for this show, the band were playing the Brighton Corn Exchange, a grand venue which is part of the Brighton Dome and a venue I’ve heard a great deal about but never visited.
It’s a beautiful space – a long, rectangular room with a raised stage in front of huge windows. It’s always nice to shoot soundchecks with good light – and the natural light pouring through the windows adds a really nice touch.
I’ve read enough advice from photographers before that if you’re doing such a long-term project on film, the trick is to keep the film and cameras consistent; all my soundcheck work is taken on a Nikon F100 with a Nikkor 85/1.8 lens, and an all-manual Nikon FM2N with a Nikkor 50/1.8, on Fuji Neopan which is pushed to 6400. That may sound a lot, but the processing – by the excellent Peak Imaging up in Sheffield- leaves just enough grain without washing out the strong blacks.
I’ve shot Calexico enough times now that I can tiptoe around the stage without them really noticing – exactly what you want when taking reportage shots like these. The ever-friendly Mr Burns was struggling with a cold, though the capacity crowd a few hours later wouldn’t have noticed.
Normally, once the show starts, I’ve stopped taking pics, but I wanted to try something different this time, and I’d also taken along one of my Pentax ESIIs and a couple of rolls of Fuji Superia 400 – it’s a bright and brilliant colour print fine with superb grain. Having shot black and white with bands for so long, it’s nice to sometimes mix things up.
The colour shots don’t have the slick definition of digital, but the Superia’s gritty grain gives them something a little different – especially on the pic of drummer John above, with a colour palette that looks like something from the 60s or 70s.
I’ve always enjoyed taking pics of Calexico – but I particularly like this bunch. I’m eagerly awaiting their next visit.
To see more pics from the Brighton soudcheck and gig, check out the Flickr set.