Herbie Hancock in De Oosterpoort

I was extremely pleased when I saw the email yesterday confirming the photo-request for Herbie Hancock. I mean: Herbie Hancock, the man who was in Miles David’s band, but who is also most definitely a Jazz legend by his own making. His latest effort is the “Imagine Project”, the tour that landed him in Groningen last Monday.

While the “Imagine Project” album features a range of artists, these can of course not also follow Herbie on tour. Their place is taken by Kristina Train who is given the task to perform the vocal duties on songs such as John Lennon’s Imagine, Don’t Give up by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush and Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’. Not a light task at all. In between these songs Herbie and band played older Herbie Hancock originals and an impressive solo by Herbie on piano halfway.

But as to what I felt about the concert I’m split in two. On one hand I’m very much impressed by Herbie Hancock and the band. The performance is great, but that mostly goes for the original Jazz songs and pieces. The songs from the “Imagine Project” unfortunately failed to really touch me. It didn’t grab me, as much as I wanted them to. Also at some point there was a little to much tonal-scale-duelling, something we Dutch call “Jazz gefreubel”. So on one hand I’m very happy to have seen Herbie Hancock at work and am much impressed by some of the parts of the concert, on the whole it did not give me the same kind of wow-feeling I had when I saw Chick Corea with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White perform some time ago. But in the end I’m still extremely happy I got to see the man and heard the man.

I have two sets of photos. The first is a ‘basic’ set, but I thought that the photos of Herbie might also work well as black & whites, so I also added a small set of photos in black & white, some same and a few ‘new’ ones.

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And here the black & white set

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Wende in the Stadsschouwburg

Last night Wende came to the Stadsschouwburg for her theatrical tour. Combining the experiences from her theatre performances and clubtour she’s back in the theatres now with a fantastic new show, mainly based on her latest English album, but with the passion and intensity that she’s been known for back in her French chanson singing days.

Wende enters the venue through the audience and finds a pipe organ on stage. It provides the music for the first song after which the curtains are raised and the full band is unleashed. It’s Wende’s band from the clubtour extended with a string section. The band is contained in a circus ring -the circus that Wende conducts- and dressed to suit. The band is fantastic! Small when the songs are, but they’ll just as easily produce a wall of sound if you give them half a chance.

And Wende is simply being Wende: passionate, sensual, intense, funny, beautiful and in absolute control of every muscle of her body. She gracefully moves over the stage dancing and running. Her voice is just incredible; she can sound very fragile but when the songs get louder, her voice is very powerful and strong, I can’t get enough of it.

After some songs the band leaves the stage and Wende performs some songs on piano in a more intimate setting. In the end the band is back again and a backing chorus is added. The show is well paced, has up tempo songs and intimate, fragile songs. It is funny, moving and most of all incredibly good. I had a great evening and can’t wait to see Wende again, I just love her.

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Panorama photos in Groningen

I was hoping for a bit of sunshine today, but as that didn’t happen I went to Groningen anyway to at least try some panorama photos and have an idea for locations and how to work them. Walking around I got three locations before it started to rain. I walked around a bit more hoping it would clear up, but as that didn’t happen, I went back home to work on the photos I had.

I was very happily surprised to see the amount of detail in the images that the 5D mkII delivers. You can zoom into the finished images so much and the image stays beautifully sharp and focussed.

Today was partially a test and I will do it again on a Sunday when the weather’s better. A blue sky (with a cloud here and there) looks a lot better than that white/grey background I had today. But on the whole I’m very happy with the results

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Flux in Vera

After I left the Steve Vai + NNO concert, I headed for Vera where Groningen based band Flux (formed around Irene Wiersma) had their second CD-release evening of their new album ‘Pluimgewichten’ (the first one was in Paradiso/Amsterdam).

I first saw Flux a few years ago when they were one of the acts helping along the album presentation of Meindert Talma. Back then Flux were two ladies singing along to a backingtrack. The band has been through several musical phases and bandformats and has now surfaced as a great live band with Irene as the steady value of the band.

The evening was opened by poet Nic Castle. That was a bit of a surprise, but fun to see.

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After that Irene and her merry men took to the stage for their gig. I already knew some songs of their recently released EP ‘Held op sokken’ (Hero on socks), but here live, with a band, the songs grew in power. All songs are Dutch and have a definite poetic quality to them. I thought the concert was great.

As you can see in the gallery, for the buyers of the album a letter was added to the album apologising for a fault in the CD booklet (for translation see comments on the Flickr page). A new booklet was added and Irene made a very lovely letter of apology. All is forgiven :)

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Steve Vai + NNO in De Oosterpoort

It seems ages ago that I went to my last gig (The Eels, September 7th), but due to my hearing problems I had to take it easy and will have to for now. It meant I missed out on some fantastic gigs, which wasn’t very much fun, but then.. I only have one set of ears, so I better take it easy on them.

But although the doctor said I shouldn’t strain my ears with loud sounds, he didn’t say I wasn’t allowed to hear anything at all, so after nearly two months without gigs, climbing the walls and going completely nuts on seeing gigs go by that I had my heart set on, I decided that a little music should be possible and Steve Vai playing with the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (NNO) was an opportunity I did not want to miss.

I was very happy to see that a photography-pass was easily arranged. When I got to the venue -about an hour before the doors would open- the queue was already nearly outside the building. Busy evening. I got the photo-pass and joined the queue. Eventually the doors opened and the guards told me the usual: photography only the first three songs and no flash. I had my plans built around that. Two songs in the front, getting shots of Steve Vai and Steve + some of the orchestra and than the last song further back in the audience getting shots of the orchestra. But then the bad news hit. The photographers were informed that we would only get 5 minutes for photography. Later that was changed to 7 minutes. Oh well, I’d just have to focus on Steve Vai then.

Then the orchestra settled in and after that Steve Vai entered the stage. The first two/three minutes were spent with Steve conducting the orchestra (with his back to us) and also conducting the audience. Then he started playing with the orchestra and the song was over before I knew it. Darn… not many usable shots then. But when it’s over, it’s over.

I seated myself on the stairs back in the hall as all seats were sold out. So I managed to take in the rest of the first set without worrying about photography. It was fantastic. An impressive rhythm section with three of four extensive drumkits on various places on stage, a violin section, a cello section, horn section and what not. And Steve Vai in the midst of it all centre stage. Musically Steve is, I guess, the most logical choice. Like his once tutor Frank Zappa, Steve is a master in freaky rock music, permanent member of the G3 (Guitar Greatest) tours and played with so many artists besides having an impressive career of his own. But -also like Zappa- Steve is also keenly interested in orchestration and classical music. Both have written classical scores. Steve is also no stranger to playing with orchestra as he already played (and recorded) with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra back in 2007 (album: Sound Theory).

Now Steve Vai is back and this time with the NNO orchestra, for the Steve Vai Festival (four days in total). I attended the concert on Friday October 22nd. It started with three pieces played by Steve Vai. Opening with ‘Kill The Guy With The Ball’ with orchestra, then ‘The Murder’ played solo and then ‘Salamanders In The Sun’ with orchestra again. It was incredible, magical almost. A great blend between the electrical guitar and a full orchestra.

After that Steve left the stage and the full orchestra did the the same. The stage was reorganised and a piano was moved to the front of the stage. Mike Keneally was introduced to the audience. He rewrote some songs by Steve Vai for piano. While the idea may be interesting, I found the actual performance somewhat lacking substance. For me it just didn’t work on piano.

There was more after that. A performance of Yusperof on electric violin and another piece by Steve Vai and orchestra and then a full set of Steve Vai and orchestra after the break, but I left during Mike Keneally’s set to see another gig in Groningen. I was very much impressed by the combination of Steve Vai and the NNO, I just wish I’d have had a little more time for a more varied set of photos

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Canon 15mm

I completely forgot to mention I got my Canon 15mm fisheye back. I dropped it on the streed a good two months ago and it got repaired by TechRepair and workst like a treat again. Luckily the glass wasn’t damages and only a few parts were replaced. The first tests show the lens to be working as if nothing has happened. Only a few scratches on the outer body remind of the unfortunate incident.

Say what? Part 2

I had my second appointment with the specialist at the hospital today concerning my hearing problem. The medicine cure I did in the past few weeks didn’t really do much of anything and the blood-tests and the MRI scan did not show any physical problems. So unfortunately there’s not much to report. I’m to appear for my third appointment halfway november and to avoid loud noises till then.

That means I can start going to gigs again, but I’ll have to pick my gigs (so no ludicrously loud gigs for a while). I’ll pick that up next week and see what gigs I can start. Can’t wait to get my hands on some new concert-pics :)

Vintage cameras and iPhonography

I’ve added some photos to various locations on my sites. In the first place, having received some new cameras for my vintage camera collection I have took some photos of the cameras and added those to my site over here. I’ve also taken some photos with my vintage cameras, but as the films haven’t been fully filled just yet, I’ll have to wait a bit to get them developed. New to the collection are an Olympus Pen EE camera and an old Russion Zorki 4 camera. newer than the Zorki 1E I already had and it works a lot smoother. The Zorki 4 feels lovely in operation.

Besides the old there is also the new. I’ve started experimenting a bit with my iPhone as a camera. The results are very interesting. I was amazed at the quality of basic images, but the fun of the iPhone is fooling around with the various image editing programs. Hipstamatic as a LOMO application is great, but combining the Apple Camera app or ProHDR or ProCamera with applications such as FilmLab, Photoshop Express, PictureShow or ColorSplash makes for some amazing results. And the Flickr app makes is very easy to upload the photos to Flickr. So you ca do all the work withing the iPhone. That’s just amazing. I’ve uploaded my first results and started a set on Flickr to keep the results together in a group. The first few photos are available over here.

In other news: I have my next appointment with the doctor concerning my ears next Wednesday. Hopefully then I’ll know more about getting back into concert-photography. Will keep you updated on that.

Camera gear

I’ve updated my site a bit. I added the iPhone to the gear page. I know it’s not a camera like my Canon camera’s but it does take great snapshots and with the amount of applications available to the iPhone you can take fantastic vintage looking images. Personally I’m very much impressed by Hipstamatic, but also apps like Film Lab and Photoshop Express have some incredible possibilities.

Secondly I’ve added a new site. It’s not added to the sidebars yet, but I’m working on a list with the collection of ‘old’ cameras I have. For a sneak peak you can look over here. Changes will be made, photos of and by (when possible) will be added. For now it is ‘Under construction’.

The Eels at De Oosterpoort

Yesterday I got the see The Eels again, I was very excited about that. I’ve only once seen them before, a few years ago at the Take Root festival. Mark Everett was then touring with ‘Eels with Strings’ and I still had this romantic melancholic in my mind when thinking about The Eels (listening to the album Eels with Strings helps too). But boy was I in for a surprise. But that still to come. Opening for The Eels was just about as big a surprise to be honest.

Round half past eight a ventriloquist came onto the stage. And that’s not what you’re expecting when you go and visit a band. And  if the guy was any good or fun, it would have been entertaining at least, but Jeff Dunham (link) he was not. Not at all. He got a man and woman from the audience on stage as part of his act and I’m pretty sure everyone else thought the same as me; ‘thank God it’s not me’. Luckily it didn’t take too long and then the real opening act came on.

Alice Gold entered the stage solo, no band to back her up. Just her and an electric guitar and it sounded awesome, she’s a one-women rock act and is was just perfect. Well, almost… I was instructed that I was only allowed to take photos from the side of the stage, not middle in front and I constantly had a mic-stand between me and Alice, making a lot of images nearly impossible to shoot, but to my great luck when Alice backed away from the mic, she mostly was looking in my direction and that gave me some great shots. Musically I loved it and I do hope to see Alice on a tour of her own sometime. A must see

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After Alice Gold it was time for the main event: The Eels. Like I said musically I still had the melancholic version in my mind, but a view on the stage revealed that this was not very likely; no strings-location, no piano or anything. mark “E” Everett entered the stage with a full beard, wearing white overalls, a black bandanna and sunglasses. As usual with these gigs I’m only allowed to shoot the first three songs and no flash allowed. That’s not so much a problem, but when they also add the restriction that I’m only to shoot from the side of the stage, that makes it even harder to get some interesting images. The first song was played by Mark “E” Everett without any other band-members on stage and the second and third had an extra bearded guitarist on pedal steel guitar. After the third song I packed the camera’s back into the camera-bag and watched the rest of the band come on stage.

And what a band! I guess there are two requirements to enter The Eels. You gotta be able to play like heck and you have to have a beard. You could have fooled me that I was looking at ZZ Top! All members wore huge beards (even the drummer, guess it’s not ZZ Top then). And the sound! Good God, it was loud, rocking and pounding. Nothing like the “with strings” gigs, but a rough rocking band. Lots of old songs in completely different compositions, lots of new stuff and a bunch of covers thrown in. I watched most of the concert from the back balcony, enjoying the view of a packed main hall and a band playing for dear life. Fabulous gig! In the gallery you’ll also find three images with an overview shot of the venue. They’re not up to my normal quality, but as I just have an iPhone4 and was fooling around a bit with the camera options (normal camera and Hipstamatic software) and as I didn’t have much else than Mark Everett from the normal shots I though I’d throw a few of the iPhone it. I promise I won’t make a habit of it ;)

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Don Fiasko and Beans & Fatback at Noorderzon

My last night at Noorderzon took me to two bands that both showed a lot of fun and enthusiasm on stage. First I headed to the Spiegeltent. I was a bit too late and found Don Fiasko already fully at it and had already won the crowd over. It’s hard to describe this rowdy crowd. On Internet I found them to be described as an afro-latino-electro-kitsch fanfare and I guess that will do for a large part. Personally I’d add a Japanese cabaret group somewhere in there.

It’s a large group and with two cameramen recording the whole thing it’s a miracle they all fit on the stage. But they had fun, they knew how to make a party and the visitors sang, danced and jumped to the beats. What a gig

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It was a long and cold wait, sitting at the pond without a jacked and with only a T-shirt (what was I thinking), but man was I glad I did (wait that is, not the forgetting a jacket part). Beans & Fatback is a mixture of blues, country and soul with a rich dose of funk. Just the thing to warm up a shivering crowd. Keyboardplayer and percussionist Gerhardt got the crowd warmed up well in advance of the show and continued playing on them during the gig, the duo drummers in the back made for a terrific rhythm section. Actually the whole band was great and they too looked like having a lot of fun on stage. I only wished bassplayer Jet faced the crowd a bit more, would have made it easier to take some photos ;) Beans & Fatback will play at the Oosterpoort again in about a month, I’ll try and see them again there, had a great time here

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HEALTH and Sleepy Sun at Noorderzon

On Wednesday I went to Groningen again for my third night of Noorderzon. However, I started at the Vera venue. This was the best location possible for HEALTH, a noise rock band that actually defies categorization. It was loud, very loud. It took me a few minutes to get in the right frame of mind, but once I did, I really loved it. It was mostly about groove and rhythm. Light was tough though, set very low and with the band members dancing and jumping all over the stage, even at high ISO speeds it was difficult to get any decent shots

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After the gig it was quite a hike to get to the Noorderplanstoen in time for the next gig; Sleepy Sun on the Dok  stage. Of course when I got there, it was very crowded all around the pond, but I slowly made my way to a spot where I at least was able to take some pictures.

Sleepy Sun as a band is fantastic psychedelic rockband. Black Mountain sprang to mind, also a bit of Pink Floyd. Lots of jamming moments and great songs. Had a great time

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Blaudzun and Mdungu at Noorderzon

Last night I went to Noorderzon again (it lasts 11 days but I can’t attend them all). This evening had two other new and interesting bands for me. First of back to the Spiegeltent again for Dutch singer/songwriter Blaudzun (named after a Danish cyclist). The venue was already well filled when I got there, but luckily I managed to squirm myself in there and found a low angle front-row place. It was steaming hot in there, so wearing a long sleeved shirt was maybe not such a good idea.

The band entered the stage not much later and also quickly called for towels, sweat streaming off of their foreheads. Musically it was wonderful. Great songs both from the EP and the album by Blaudzun. Singer/guitarist Johannes Sigmond is well recognizable with his glasses and intense black hair. As for the lights at the gig… well, that was a bit less helpful. It was so darn dark red I was unable to make anything else out of the photos than greyscaled images. Not that that is a bad thing, it’s just that I’d prefer it as an option rather then a mandatory choice and also I prefer to see a bit more colour at a gig than only lots of red

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After the Blaudzun gig it was nice to get outside in the fresh air again and I managed to find a great spot for the gig at the open air stage. Based in the Netherlands, but with mambers of different nationalities, Mdungu plays Jazz orientated African music. It was swinging and so was the audience after two songs. On both sides of the pond and way in the back people danced to the fantastic sounds of this band. What a difference to Thursdays act. This was a fantastic gig and I loved it. Also the lights were fantastic so I was able to take some shots from various angles. A great band with a fantastic vibe

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Laura Veirs and Surfer Blood at Noorderzon

It’s been nearly two months since I last saw a gig, so the start of Noorderzon 2010 was much anticipated. Opening act (for me at least) was Laura Veirs and the Hall of Flames playing in the Spiegeltent. This gig had sold out well in advance and after picking up my tickets at the Kiosk I stood in a long line awaiting the opening of the tent.

Luckily for me it was mostly crowded in the back so there was enough room to move around in the front to take some photos. The gig was wonderful. I had wanted to see Laura for some time and was very happy that she stopped by here for her short European tour. They played a lot of songs and all members of the band performed wonderfully. I really liked Laura’s stage-performance and hope she’ll come around again soon

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The Spiegeltent hosts paid-for concerts, but at the festival area there’s also a great autdoors free gigs stage, the Dommelsch stage Het Dok. This stage is set at a pond, the audience is to sit along the shore of the pond. It puts you way back from the performing band, but the view is fantastic.

First band here was Surfer Blood. I’d heard a lot of positive things about this band in advance and was looking forward to seeing them. What a shame that they didn’t live up to it for me. It sounded to much of a formula-band to me. Can’t really put my finger on it, but I wasn’t grabbed by them. Shooting photos over the pond was quite hard, but that’s where a 100-400mm lens comes in handy :)

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Rizla Racing Day @ TT Circuit in Assen 2/2

Once the ATS Formel 3 Cup was finished, I started a long walk around the lower end of the track, making my way to the area known as “De Bult” to shoot the next race, the Dutch Supercar Challenge, a combined race with two classes: the SS2 and the SP. “De Bult” is a slow turn where cars can be photographed nicely from above or racing towards you, when you’re standing high on the earth banks (non seats-area).

Upon arriving at that part of the circuit, the heavens opened up and it started raining… a lot. The track got well wet and so did everyone on the tribunes that didn’t bring a raincover (that would be me). It also meant that the track was slippery, so cars were a bit more careful going round the corners, but that didn’t stop them from making some pirouettes every once in a while.

Took some photos on the bank and after a while I walked to the “De Bult Tribune” -a seated area- where on the edge of the tribune you can get some nice shots with a 400mm lens of cars leaving the turn in “De Stekkenwal”. Once I had my shots there, I walked to the “Ramshoek”; the end of the long straight end to get the final shots there

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After the Supercar Challenge it was time for another Formula-series, the NEC Formula Renault 2.0. I had walked to the area known as “De Strubben” and would shoot the photos of this last race around this set of corners. The track was still wet, so with the field of cars still close together, the chances one of them ending up besides the track in this area was pretty big and indeed it did.

All in all nothing much else happened in this part of the track during the race, but I did see a car racing along with a flit tire (and it was only just the first part of the track, he had still such a long way to go) and one of the drivers racing around with a broken nose (of the car, not the driver). He’d decided that changing noses would loose him more time than racing along with the broken nose. By the end of the race I’d taken a bunch of photos all around the corners in the northern part of the track and was near the exit again

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