If you know me at all, in any way shape or form, than one of the first things that you will know about me is that I'm a die hard pro-wrestling fan. Not in a 40 year old virgin living in his mothers basement way (honest!), or a trailer park dweller still trying to discover indoor plumbing way. More of a "This part of of my brain never really matured and there's very little on the TV that's actually fun to watch anymore" way. This started off in '87 shortly after we got Sky (yes, for all you Millennials, Sky was once upon a time, only one station, a satellite station received via cable, and it broadcasted everything!) via Cablelink. By March 1987, everyone was talking about Savage v Steamboat, and Hogan vs Andre.
Ten years later, WWE (can't use the other initials, the Pandas might sue!) had turned a very sharp corner, gone were the cartoon characters replaced by more reality based characters and the edgier storylines had shifted the demographic from 8-12 to 14-21 (and older!) in a move that became known as "The Attitude era". By 1998, one man who'd already established himself as a certified lunatic, wrestling amongst barbed wire and explosives, and getting caught in ring ropes so tight that it actually tore half of his ear off. This just wasn't enough to cement a legacy, so he had a 6'10 monster throw him off a 20' cell and through an announce table. A bump that he's still famously remembered for to this day. That man is Mick Foley.
Under two years later since that said bump, Mick found himself in retirement a few months after he wrote his first autobiography which would go on to become a New York Times bestseller. The back cover of said book gives a list of injuries he had sustained over the course of his pro-wrestling career, making a lot of people glad that he retired so that he could live to tell the tale. Mick has since then written several memoirs, children's novels and fiction, acting and voiceovers and comedy and spoken word tours, which brings us to last Thursday's show at Vicar Street.
I was surprised I was able to obtain press accreditation, mainly because I wasn't sure that photography would be allowed. As a music photographer, I don't get the opportunity to snap spoken word very often, in fact I've only done it twice before. Scott Ian at The Button Factory, and Robbie Bonham at Forbidden Fruit a couple of months later in 2013. Given the fact that our demographic at Pure Rawk also include wrestling fans, it made sense to try for this and go for something different. And to see if I could still do it. Taking photographs of musicians is one thing, of comedians / spoken word is a little different and requires completely different timing.
Fully seated show at Vicar Street, so that means I'm from the sides, the back and the balcony. This isn't so bad this time around as the light is consistent. I don't have to worry about focus issues as much and there's no smoke machines in sight. This is a night off by comparison to my usual shoots. A simple case of duck, point up, zoom and click. Both zoom lenses are the weapons of choice with a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 55-300mm f/4-5.6 lens designed for a cropped frame camera, which would be the last time I would use it. The latter isn't recommended for low light conditions, however if the light is decent enough, it can be usable. Especially as Mick doesn't really move around all that much, making things a bit easier to focus.
Settings remained constant throughout each camera. On one D600, the film speed was set to ISO 2000, with an aperture of f/2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/125sec and on the other D600, the ISO was still 2000, with the aperture set to f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/100sec, as at 300mm, that particular lens doesn't let as much light in, so I needed to bring the shutter speed down a little more. But as I said earlier, Mick doesn't move around an awful lot during his story telling, which made life a little easier for me. If I was trying to snap Happy Mondays this way, I'd be in for a hell of a time, which shots of Bez looking like I had taken a handful of pills before I started the editing process. (Don't laugh, I've managed this and it's not pretty!)
I was pretty happy with what I got from the shoot. Some of the shots, you wouldn't have imagined that they were taken from halfway down the back of the venue, while others (like the one in the banner) are blatantly obvious that they were taken from a distance. Despite the limitations, I was still able to get a pretty varied set within the short time I had taken the photos (approx 10 minutes, it's spoken word so it's not like I had a song count). In a rare moment for me, I kicked back and enjoyed the rest of the show. I had read enough of his books over the years, so for once it was good to hear a story from him instead of reading one. He didn't disappoint.