Oh wow, where to start with this? 1989 was a fairly big year in Scotland in terms of the music that it was churning out. Gun released 'Taking On The World', Simple Minds released 'Street Fighting Years' Fish, who had left Marillion released his first solo single 'Big Wedge' with the rest of his debut album finished, and Texas released their debut 'Southside'. Gun and Texas were actually linked at the time as Sharleen Spiteri and then vocalist, Mark Rankin are cousins (Spiteri contributed backing vocals to the Taking On The World album). Growing up around all of this (I was 13 years old at the time), my ears pricked up pretty fast. So the music coming out of Scotland had a big impact on my teenage years.
Although forming in 1988, Texas celebrated their 25th anniversary this year with the release of Texas25 and a subsequent tour which was somewhat downscaled and seated in smaller venues with Sharleen telling stories in between songs, this was a show I wasn't going to miss. I had caught them at Witnness 2001 at Fairyhouse Racecourse and impressed wasn't the word. They were actually booked as the headline act, with Ash second on the bill, but for whatever reason, Ash ended up closing the show. This actually made no sense from a production standpoint as there was some delay in stripping down Texas' stage before Ash were able to start their set, but I digress.
As previously mentioned, this is a fully seated show. First thing I said to myself was "Best of luck ensuring it remains that way". You simply can't stay seated at a Texas concert. They could go full acoustic, and you still wouldn't be able to remain seated unless they kept it to ballads only, and even then, asses in the seats wouldn't necessarily be guaranteed. There is also no support on the night, which cuts my work in half, and will most likely cut the content of this entry in half as well! As a result of this show being fully seated, there's no access to the front of the venue, so it's desk and the wings of the venue only. Thankfully, the sides don't obstruct any of the patrons, so while it's not ideal, it's not completely awkward either.
Usual rules apply other than the restrictions, first three songs and no flash. Song 1 is essentially Sharleen and Johnny performing the semi-acoustic 'Start A Family', and it's pitch black except for a spotlight on Sharleen. For all intents and purposes, this was a waste of time in terms of photography. Out of the photos that I took during that song, I think I was able to use one or two that were taken from stage right. Songs two and three give us a bit more in terms of light. Blue back lighting and white front lighting, but it's still quite dim. With about six photographers racing around the sides and the back of the venue trying to get what they can with two songs. The pace was fast to say the least.
The wide lenses were forsaken for this one. To be honest, wide shots of a seated crowd look dull and boring in my opinion. So a 70-200mm is strapped to one D600 while a 55-300mm cropped frame lens is strapped to another D600 for the additional reach that has bailed me out on so many occasions (and at the time of writing, it will be one of the last gigs shot with that lens as an 80-400mm is on it's way to me). I always carry all my long lenses with me to the Olympia just in case, because even from the desk, the 200mm doesn't quite have the reach I want. I could crop, but being honest, I don't like to crop that much out of my images as they look like garbage when you try printing them.
Settings wise, it was ISO 2000 with an aperture of f/2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/125sec, which is probably the slowest I could get away given the amount of moving on the stage that Sharleen is capable of. Trying to keep the 300mm lens steady was fun given how slow the auto focus is on that lens in particular, but keep it steady for a couple of seconds and it will be your best friend when taking photos from a distance. This is exactly why I tell people not to take the larger venues for granted and bring a crap lens assuming that the light will be perfect. It won't, and this isn't the first time I've seen this happen, and I'm certain that it won't be my last either.
The ultimate slap in the face had to be when I went to the back to pack my camera away after the third song, only to find one of the nicest lighting displays all year. This isn't the first time this has happened, Neil Finn did the exact same thing last year too (at the same venue too, I might add!), I'd already paid for a ticket just in case I didn't get accreditation because I wanted to see the show, like the fan that I am, so to see the lighting, which was impressive beyond belief for each song after the third song was exciting to see as a punter, but soul crushing as a photographer given what we could have had. Those are the breaks though.
It's unfortunate. Any of the photos that surfaced from this show do not do the entire show justice at all. If the bands management had been smart enough, they'd have given us the final three songs to work with, or the encore, not just for the lights, but that's when things really kicked off. I'm happy with the photos that I got from the show, but they're a poor representation of the remainder of the show, and I'm not ashamed to admit that, due to the fact that it's through no fault of mine. It wouldn't put me off applying for another photo pass for Texas, maybe not for this tour though.