Music

Thick as a Brick

Thick
I’m just back from a rare night out this evening. Jethro Tull were playing Leicester’s De-Montfort Hall for the first time in ooh, 35 years I think. I met up with friends there and enjoyed a great evening of music as the ‘Acoustic Tull’ line-up played to what must have been a full house.

The full line up :-

  • Ian Anderson
  • Martin Barre
  • John O’Hara (keyboards)
  • David Goodier (bass)
  • James Duncan (drums)
  • Anna Phoebe (violin)

Ian seems to be ‘doing good’ for what I guess his age must be now. He seemed just as active on stage as ever and those oh so distinctive vocals rang clear and true. I was very impressed with Anna Phoebe on violin which added a different dimension to many of the well known Tull numbers which had received reworks of varying degrees for the acoustic set up.

Songs such as ‘Living in the Past’, ‘Thick as Brick’, ‘Dun Ringill’ (see the actual Dun Ringill here), ‘Aqualung’, ‘Locomotive Breath’ were interspersed with a handful of Anna Phoebe’s material and the odd Anderson and Barre solo number. It all went together very nicely.

It had been years since I last saw Tull play live. Trying very hard to remember when it was, and I think it was on the J-Tull Dot Com tour, so maybe not as very long ago as I thought. Still several years. It was a real treat to have them play Leicester - previous encounters had involved trips to Nottingham or Manchester.

Time to go get some more Tull onto my iPod!


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Oh, it’s 2007?

weathered sandstone 2

The Christmas and New Year period passed without me posting here. Well, it was full of all the things that you normally do at that time of year. I did have a week or so off from work, but the weather was dismal and the only places I could think of to visit were closed.

So, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time reading (H.G. Wells) listening to music (Genesis, Nick Drake) and processing photos I took a while ago.

I’m into my second week back at work now though - just don’t know where the time has gone to. And speaking of work, my resolve seems to have crumbled a bit on the walking commute front. I’m blaming the Christmas break myself. After a week of comfort and staying in bed as late as I liked (within reason) it has just seemed like such hard work to get out of bed and go walk. I only did 2 days out of 4 working days last week and this morning I woke up and just couldn’t shift myself. So, got to get back into a routine starting tomorrow. One good thing, on the days I did walk last week I felt like it was easier than ever. It’s not putting the effort in which is a problem for me with this - it’s dragging myself out of bed early enough to be able to walk 4.5 miles in time for work.

We did get out to Kenilworth Castle yesterday. It was dismal weather again, and it’s somewhere I’ve visited a lot, but it’s always good to be around old stone! I did take a few photos, and whilst nothing was spectacular (very dull and flat light) then I enjoyed taking them. The photo at the top of this posting was taken during the visit. The castle has some of the most wonderfully eroded sandstone I’ve seen.


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Bryter Layter - Later…

steve parker 3 bw

I’ve processed a few more photos from the Bryter Layter gig on Wednesday night and uploaded them to my Flickr account. I was quite pleased with the way the one above of Steve turned out - grainy and moody (apart from that tinsel).


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Bryter Layter

steve parker 2

Last night (Wednesday 20th December 2006) saw me back at my favourite local music venue, The Musician on Clyde Street, to see Bryter Layter. My old friend Kate Easton plays viola and sings in the band and for some odd reason I’d never seen them play, despite them having performed their ‘farewell concert’ a couple of years ago.

Bryter Layter perform a selection of Nick Drake (and more info here and here - just for starters) covers and their own compositions. The band consists of Steve Parker (voice/guitar), Kate Easton (voice/viola), Skatz (voice/guitar), Neil Segrott (wicked bass guitar), Nikki Cartwright (violin) and Andy Fitzsimons (percussion).

It was a great night, particularly as I’ve come to love the music of Nick Drake and Bryter Layter do such a good job of their renditions. Parker’s vocals seem perfect for the job, the guitar work is mind boggling to somebody like me who if given a guitar wouldn’t be able to do much more with it than chop it up for firewood. The ’string section’ supplements the guitars without being overbearing, which I think is all important with music as intimate as this. The same goes for the bass and percussion.

I took my camera along and fired off a few shots. I’ve yet to spend any proper time in processing them, just a quick crop and sharpen so far. I do find the lighting conditions at The Musician to be tricky for photography. I’d joked to Kate before the gig, asking if they could turn the lights up a bit. I stress I was joking - obviously it’s more important for the lighting to convey the correct atmosphere to the audience than to make life easier for an amateur snapper like me. Very low light, I was into ISO 3200 for pretty much all of the gig, even at f1.8 with my lovely little Canon 50mm. I did put a longer lens on with a smaller maximum aperture and I think it was worth it. I had the shutter speed way too low for the focal length I was using, but managed to get some acceptable close-ups all the same.

steve parker 1

kate easton 2

I just hate ‘noise’ (well, actually ‘noise’ in the way of grain can enhance a photo, but I like to decide when to add it for myself) - and shooting at ISO 3200 (got away with 1600 for a few shots) generates a lot of sensor noise. I might try a few black and white conversions, this can help to disguise quite a lot of the noise in shots like this. I’ve also played around with ‘Neat Image‘, but I always find it hard to decide between the noise or the smoothing effect that noise reduction software introduces.

I really enjoyed the music, even if I felt my photography didn’t come up to the mark (hey, I just need a faster long lens). It was a shame I had to leave before their second set, but there was work in the morning and I have to get up a bit earlier now that I’m walking to and from the office. I can only hope that at some point Bryter Layter will get together for another ‘farewell concert’ and that I’ll be able sit and enjoy the whole show.


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More Photo Fiddling

I’m still playing around with the photos I took at the gig on Friday night. My previous black and white conversions were lacking in contrast, so I upped that a bit.

Andy Griffiths and his band were also playing on Friday. I snapped this one from the side of the stage. Bloomin’ microphone stands getting in the way all over the place, but I’m pretty happy with the result.

Here Andy Griffiths can be seen (framed in angle of yet another mic stand) joining The Kate Easton Band for part of their set.

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Before Too Long

The evening of Friday 2nd June 2006 saw me down at The Musician in Leicester to attend the album launch of ‘Before Too Long’ by my friend, Kate Easton. It has been a long road to getting this CD out for Kate and I hadn’t seen her for getting on for a year I guess. I asked her for permission to take some photos during her set and she was very generous in permitting me to click away to my heart’s content. This was the first time I’d made an attempt at ‘concert photography’ and I was soon learning just how tricky
it could be. Not only do you have to deal with low light conditions, but there’s all kinds of clutter on the stage which ‘get in the way’ of the photographer - mic stands, microphones, monitors… And then you’re trying to capture a moment whilst not getting in the way of everyone else who’s come to enjoy the music. Did I mention low light? Okay, I was shooting with my Canon 20D set to ISO 3200 and with my 50mm f1.8 lens opened as wide as it can go. With that combination I was able to get shutter speeds ranging
between 1/60th of a second and 1/100th of a second. My 50mm lens when used with the 1.6 sensor size multiplication factor of the 20D gives an effective focal length of 80mm, so 1/60th was possible if I held very steady, but 1/100th was just fine.

I fired off quite a few from near the stage. Then realising that I was in need of another cold drink I headed towards the bar… only to find myself face to face with a friend I’d not seen for well… must be 10 years?! We’d not had any way of getting in touch with each other and I had no idea they were still in the Leicester area. After a frantic few minutes ‘catching up’ I endeavoured to return to the stage to fire off a few more shots, only to find that I had returned right at the end of the last song.

And how was Kate’s new album, ‘Before Too Long’? Bloody fantastic. I’m loving it to bits. Of the ten tracks on the CD, 6 are Kate’s own compositions. It’s hard to pin down favourites, they’re all so good, but if I had to single some out they would be ‘In Your Garden’, ‘Good Day’ and the title track, ‘Before Too Long’. The covers on here include a great rendition of ‘Loving You’ and ‘Which Will’ by Nick Drake. Kate does have a web presence on MySpace, although there’s
not a lot there yet. Not sure if she’ll be developing this in the future or not, but I thought I might as well link to it. She’s playing The Musician again on June 28th, so if you’re interested in some good music at a great venue then go take a look at their web site here.

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