Second year in a row for me. And roughly at the same time of year too. It saddens me a little bit when I have to explain to people who these guys are (which is more often than I'd like to admit). But if the term "hair rock" is thrown about, the first thing that people will usually think of is 80s, spandex and poorly applied make up. Well Y&T (which actually stands for Yesterday & Today) pre dates the likes of your Poisons, your Wingers and what not, and even in present day, they can still belt out some heavy rock tunes, as evident by 2010's 'Facemelter', still their most recent release to date.
They tend to visit Ireland on a yearly basis, although they missed 2013, and it's usually in the same venue, The Opium Rooms (formally known as The Village) in Dublin. Needless to say, it's an event in it's own right as more often than not, you'll see a lot of familiar faces, and in some cases, in the exact same spaces. I'm convinced the couple in the far (house) right hand of the stage were the exact same people who were there last year as well as 2012. Don't take that as gospel though, my memory, good as it is, certainly isn't what it used to be. Obtaining accreditation was tricky last year, this year was a lot easier.
Our warm up act for tonight, is none other than Sweet Savage, who are now essentially reduced to one core member, being vocalist and bassist, Ray Haller. The band also have a reputation of bringing in guitarists only for them to fly the nest for greater heights. Two examples being Simon McBride, a successful solo artist in his own right, and Vivian Campbell, who went on to play with Dio, Whitesnake before eventually finding his home filling in for the deceased Steve Clark with Def Leppard, who he was remained with since 1992. The band gained a resurgence when Metallica covered 'Killing Time' during the sessions for their self titled album (it saw light of day as a b-side to The Unforgiven in 1991), and Haller himself has performed the song with Metallica live on occasions.
Let's be brutally honest, The Opium Rooms is not an easy venue to work in from a photography perspective at all. As a photographer colleague so eloquently described it, 'The place is a bin'. I hadn't been to the venue since, well, the last time Y&T had played here, and there was definitely more light in the venue then. Batten down the hatches, folks, the camera has to be set to ISO 3200! Luckily for me, the D600 handles 3200 with very little grain. Aperture at f/2.8 across the board with shutter speeds varying from 1/100sec to 1/160sec. Any faster than that and it would have been far too dark. Was a fun performance and to their credit, they deserved more attention. As a side note, I spoke to Ray after the set and he's an absolute gentleman. It won't be the last time Sweet Savage see my lens.
Y&T are up next, and the significant difference for me this year is that I'm armed with the 14-24mm lens, which I didn't have in my possession the previous year. No barrier at the Opium Rooms but I was blessed with having a really nice crowd who happily let me in front for a minute or two here and there to get the shots that I need. But the stage at the Opium Rooms is so small that the band are almost on top of each other. Here's where the 14-24mm lens comes in so handy in this respect. At the right angle, this lens can make a band look good even if they're playing on stages the size of ping pong tables. Which is just as well as there tends to be a lot of interaction between all the band members.
The 14-24mm lens and the 24-70mm lens are the tools of the trade for tonight. I did pack the 50mm but I wasn't in any humour of switching it over. For the size of the stage and being up so close, I wouldn't have benefitted from it (and nor would the band, to be honest!) Similar settings used for Sweet Savage, only this time the shutter speed was at 1/160sec for the entire photo set. This is most likely because the venue got a lot more crowded for Y&T and so I didn't really have a lot of time to play about with settings, so I picked the one that was most effective for my surroundings and just stuck with it, any further editing could be done in post.
In defence of the Opium Rooms, this venue has been severely run down over the last 20 years since it originally opened as the Mean Fiddler. Bulbs have burnt out and were never replaced properly, just moved around to barely function as stage light, which is a shame because the venue still has the potential to be one of the nicer smaller venues in the city. It's nothing that can't be fixed up with a little cash and TLC, but I'm guessing the demand for gigs next door at Whelan's being what it is, that the Opium Rooms is almost used as a backup venue. That's strictly an educated guess on my part through, I could be (and have been in the past) way off the mark.
It hasn't stopped me from snapping Y&T in the past before, nor would it do so again, unless for some bizarre reason, it happens to blow a few more bulbs, and if that does happen, customers would be well advised to bring their own torches! I may pay a visit to Belfast if the band make their annual trip over to the Emerald Isle again next year, for the change of scenery with Y&T if anything else. The band always put on a good (not to mention lengthy) show to give the punters a bang for their buck, regardless of how big or small the stage is, and at the end of the day, that's really all that matters, isn't it?