Van Morrison is one of the most famous musicians in the world, and until very recently I had never seen him live at a gig. Yes I know, shock horror! Truth be told I’ve grown up listening to his music since I was a kid as my mum was and still is a big fan. I’d be a fan of his earlier music as thats what I grew up with 20/30 years ago but to be honest, its all pretty dam good!
I’ve been working with the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building since before Brexit came around and this night at the Culloden Hotel was the jewel in the crown of their recent events. Van would be playing to a a very very small crowd so it would be a very intimate gig indeed.
The night would start off as normal in terms of photographic work. Guests would arrive and I was to shoot lifestyle pictures, the kind you’d see in the Ulster Tatler and other such magazines. Easy peasy. Once the guests came through the main lobby they’d move in to the ballroom where they’d have the chance to mingle before the gig started, queue more photos here.
The guest then took their seats and Van kicked off the gig. The tables were laid out in a normal cabaret crescent style with the empty dance floor in front of where Van was playing on the stage. From the moment the music kicked off you could tell something wasn’t quite right. Van was constantly looking around to his band then out to the floor then back to his band. A couple of songs in to the set he paused the performance.
Van said he didn’t like the empty space in front of the stage, he didn’t like the gap between him and the audience and because of the lights shinning directly on the stage he said he couldn’t see everyone properly. He didnt ask, but told everyone to stand up and bring their chairs right to the front of the stage. Immediately the room exploded with chat and chairs being dragged around but the buzz and craic in the room just went through the roof. As soon as everyone settled again Van kicked off the music and you could see straight away he was loving it, as was the audience.
For the rest of the evening not a single person left their seat or where ever they were perched. They all knew that this gig was a one in a million kind of night and nobody wanted to miss a thing. Such an amazing night! Whilst I am not a “gig photographer” I fully understand the etiquette of working an event of this style. Shoot long, move quietly and absolutely above all else do not use flash.
Thanks for reading.