Happy Easter, Professionals (if you’re into that kinda thing)!
Bookended my (last) week nicely with a couple shows featuring venerable virtuoso bassists. Last Monday I checked out Mike Watt at the Grog Shop. Friday I saw Geddy Lee with Rush at Quicken Loans Arena (the lamest venue re-name ever, although Progressive Field comes close). The Rush performance was filmed by Sam Dunn for future DVD release. Dunn, you’ll recall, is the fan-turned-director who produced the excellent documentaries Global Metal, Iron Maiden: Flight 666, and Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.
Took some nice photos at the Rush concert after the band’s PR people at Atlantic floated me credentials. It was nice being in the pit just a stone’s throw away from the guys who gave the world 2112, Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves, and Signals—among other great albums. I’m hardly a professional photographer. Rather, I’m living proof that any moron with a semi-decent camera, access to good angles, and close proximity to one’s subject can capture a few decent images. I mean, maybe I’ve got this all wrong—but if you finger the “E” key on an old Smith-Corona typewriter, it’s going to look the same as an “E” thumbed by anyone else. Annie Leibovitz is great at setting up shots. Neil Zlozower shoots some of my favorite musicians—when they’re standing perfectly still under optimum conditions and proper lighting. Toss either of ‘em in a pit with me and equip us with the same cameras, and we’ll see what’s what. I’m guessing the pictures produces by the three of us would be fairly indistinguishable. Whatever. I suppose shooting musicians live in concert is more akin to sports photography in that sense. You’re dealing with moving targets and are at the mercy of whatever lightning is available, and you’ve got to vie for position with fans or other photographers. You don’t have the luxury of positioning your subjects and “creating” the image. You aim, hope for the best, and work that finger like you were back playing Asteroids in the arcade again, circa 1982. I call my technique “strafing.” I figure, okay—there’s Geddy Lee playing his bass. He’s moving around a little, but not too quickly. If I aim in his general direction, frame him just so—and snap off a dozen rapid-fire shots—I’ll probably end up with one or two goodies. Give your average doofus an M-16 with a full mag and tell him to shoot the apple on the table at the end of the hall. The law of probability suggests one of his rounds will find its mark. That’s me with a camera.
Maybe I’m wrong about all of this. I don’t know.
My growing portfolio at www.theclevelandsound.com has allowed me to hit up some other reputable artists for the summer concert season. When Willie Nelson, Henry Rollins, and Rush grant you interviews or photo credentials, it increases the likelihood you’ll be approved by anyone of equal or less prestige. As of this writing, we were approved to shoot Lady Gaga. No, not with bullets.
However, one of my favorite bands—Yes—turned me down last month when I requested a photo op for their Cleveland House of Blues show. “We only grant passes to legitimate media,” their glum tour manager wrote in his email.
You keep telling yourself that, flunky, while the world ignores your client. I don’t see anyone else around here lining up to take Steve Howe’s picture—especially now that he resembles a corpse (no disrespect to his still-stellar musicianship). End result: your band got zero press in my town. Few if any people not already in-the-know regarding Yes are aware Geoff Downes (of Asia) has rejoined the group on keyboards to record the group’s first studio album in a decade (with Jon Anderson sound-alike singer Benoit David). This could have been avoided with some kick-ass coverage from moi. Alas, no. Enjoy the ebbing twilight of your careers, my musical mentors.
Not much else happening on the North Coast. Cleveland is experiencing a bout of typical April weather. The snow departed on time for the Indians to open their season—and surprisingly jump into first place in their division—but it’s still quite cool and rainy. You never know what kind of temperatures and precipitation you’ll be getting March through May, so you keep like three different jackets at the ready. One of these days it’ll warm up and stay warm.
Mini-Abom has started his baseball season. He’s graduated from T-ball to coach-pitch, and I’ve been recruited to assist his coach. We’ve had two practices already, and goddamn if these 6-8 year olds haven’t run my ass off with their errant throws.
Summer movie season is coming up. I don’t have high expectations for any of the tent-pole superhero movies, but hey—I’ll probably have fun watching Thor, Captain America: First Avenger, Green Lantern, and maybe even X-Men: First Class. I can still remember back in ’99 when the first X-Men film was released. I was in law school at the time, and could scarcely believe that my favorite comic character next to Spider-Man and Batman was going to be in a major motion picture. Okay, so they didn’t tap Glen Danzig to play Wolverine—but four sequels attest to the character’s now-huge legacy, and to Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the rogue with retractable claws.
Academy-Award winning actor Christian Bale has moved on to other projects—first and foremost the next Dark Knight installment. I’m looking forward to that. I’m even anticipating the Spider-Man movie reboot, although from the early photos I’ve seen of scrawny Andrew Garfield as our favorite web-head I must say my hopes aren’t very high. You’d think Sam Raimi would want a shot at redemption after the bus crash that was Spider-Man 3 and follow my script advice: jettison all females. That’s right. Lose all the love interests and focus on action and fighting. Have Doc Connors become the Lizard and go on a rampage. Have J. Jonah Jameson hire Kraven to hunt the beast as a publicity scam. Then have Kraven decide that Spidey is the more worthy prey. Mayhem ensues, crowd goes wild. But no—they’re taking Peter Parker back to high school and dragging us through that whole Mary Jane rigmarole again. Feh.
If you haven’t heard the band OFF! you need to get educated. Featuring Keith Morris—original singer of Black Flag and front man for the Circle Jerks. Their first CD compiles four EPs they released over the last year, and the sixteen tracks comprise the best hardcore stuff I’ve heard in years (think Suicidal Tendencies’ first album or Legacy of Brutality and Walk Among Us by The Misfits). Just wonderful, head-crushing mini-songs of alienation and anger.
Bale would approve.