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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Rizla Racing Day @ TT Circuit in Assen 1/2

On August 8 the eleventh edition of the Rizla Racing Day was held, a day with demos and races and all that free of charge. I missed the morning program (motorraces) but arrived at the moment that Jasper Iwema was racing a few laps on his motorcycle. No race, just a few laps waving to the audience (a lot of people attended, from what I gathered about 50.000). Anyhow… no real interesting shots of Jasper then. Once Jasper had left the track, Robert Doornbos drove a Mercedes SLK on the circuit and drove some lucky prize-winners round the track, pushing the Mercedes to it’s limits and drifting though the corners. After that Yelmer Buurman drove his AC Milan Superleague Formula car on the track and entertained the crowd with a roaring engine, seriously fast laps and a few burnouts and donuts on the start.finish grid. the photos of this set are of tho separate demonstration-runs that were held between races

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After the demonstrations it was time to get racing and the cars of the ATS Formel 3 Cup came onto the track, but not before the Rizla ladies were paraded up and down the starting-grid holding the starting positions of the various drivers. Once the cars were on the track and found their place, for a while it was extremely busy on the starting grid. Once the mechanics had left the race could finally begin. The whole race lasted thirty minutes and one extra lap. During the race I relocated from the GT-corner to a corner a little further down the track to get a few different shots

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Good times, bad times

I just noticed it’s been over a month since my last update on the website. In photography I have to admit nothing much has happened the last month. Concerts in my region have been at a standstill and I’ve invested my time in another hobby of mine: cycling. Bought a new racing bicycle and have been on that as much as possible for about 4 weeks now and it was bliss. So once the concerts start going again, at the very least I’ll be in good shape.

In about two weeks the Noorderzon festival in Groningen will start. A festival that combines theatre, dance, music, literature and film and is held from the 19th of august till the 29th. Unfortunately I’ll not be able to attend all evenings (there’s a daytime job that needs some attention too), but I’m currently looking into a schedule that will allow me to see the more interesting concerts. All in all it promises to be a great program and a fantastic start to the new season.

Yesterday also my Canon EF100-400mm lens  was returned to me and now works just fine again. I might take it out for a spin this weekend at the Rizla Racing Day event at the TT Circuit, weather providing.

So far for the good times. Unfortunately one cannot go without some bad times too and I was gutted yesterday when my 15mm fisheye lens fell -with a loud CLUNK- on the street. Glass seems to be OK, but the electronics are no longer responding and manual focus doesn’t run smooth. So I’ll have to send that in for repair in the hope it will return quickly as I use the lens for concerts, panoramas and what not (however -seeing as my EF100-400 was gone for a month- I’m afraid this will take some time too).

Anyway, the season’s about to start again and I’ll be adding new blogposts soon :)

80th TT in Assen

With all the music events last week you’d almost forget that the TT Festival was originally set up to entertain the locals and the thousands of visitors that came to Assen to see the motor races. It was no different last week with people from all over the world visiting our provincial capitol.

The Assen races are different from all other races in that these races are held on Saturday instead of Sunday. That also means that training session start on Thursday and there is more training and the qualifying sessions on Friday. I had already decided not to go to the actual races as it’s pretty darn hard to get a good location for photos and you’re likely to get shouted at at used as target practice for junk-throwing if you do stand up to get decent pics.

Friday the 25th was the best opportunity for me and so I wandered about all day, eventually making my way all around the track getting shots from all locations. A few places that I already knew would deliver me some decent shots and a few new locations that gave me great views to the various corners in the track.

Most of the day was fabulous. The sound of the engines is great, the weather was superb and I enjoy being round the track. However from the very first shot I took, my 3 month old 100-400mm Canon lens decided that it didn’t feel like taking pictures, so I had to battle my lens all day long (tried the 70-200, but that just didn’t take me close enough). Eventually I found a way to at least get the lens to work most of the time so I got some great images anyway.

I’ve divided the images by racing class, the training sessions and qualifying sessions are mixed. First of all there were the 125cc bikes. I really love this class, it’s the rookies class, a well filled field with riders that will fight for every place in the grid. This makes for very aggressive and entertaining racing

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Next up was the Moto2 class, a class that has replaced the 250cc and this new class mostly consists of Honda 600cc bikes. The field is very well filled with a lot of riders so this class also makes for interesting races

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And then finally the MotoGP bikes were let loose on the track. The sound of these bikes is incredible and they’re so very fast. However with Valentino Rossi out due to an injury, the class lacked a bit of fun, also for the Valentino tribune. Another problem with this class is the small amount of riders in it. As awesome as these bikes look and sound, they need a fuller field to make the races a bit more exciting. Still…. what a sound when these com roaring past

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Snoop Dogg in da Oosterpoort

We have the The Hague counsel to thank for last nights gig. Snoop Dogg was to headline the Parkpop festival, but the counsel feared riots at this gig and so forbid it. Having some time on his hands, Snoop Dogg did not go to Amsterdam, nor to Rotterdam. Snoop Dogg came to the city where everyone is dope, where the venues are the shit. He came to where no one would object to his concert fo’ shizzle and where all the sexy ladies love to shimmy their badonkadonks: Snoop Dogg came to GRONINGEN! (OK, I’ll stop writing slang from here on ;))

Once the gig was announced some days ago, it sold out in no time and I was very happy to have gotten permission to shoot and even more to find a photographers pit, though is was set up very small. The venue was full. From top to bottom, the whole standing area and all seats and balcony were full.

The band came on stage and a few bodyguards. I counted six big dudes in suits doing nothing more than stare at the audience looking glum. As there’s security of the Oosterpoort on duty, these were probably meant as stageprops. Large heave stageprops.

The DJ on stage got the crowd going and under a roar of applause Snoop Dogg, with his trademark blinged up microphone entered the stage with the crowd going wild. During the next three songs I worked like crazy getting images. The battery of my 5DmkII decided it wanted no part of this and was completely empty. All had to be done with the 1DmkIII, switching lenses to suit the shots I wanted.

After three songs I headed to the balcony to see a few more songs and the audience response. When Snoop wanted the venue to scream, they screamed, if they had to wave an arm, they did.  That was a great sight by the way.

It’s not my kind of music at all, but it was fantastic to see a gig like this an to see the audience respond so massively to the band

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Wende in Hedon

On Saturday June 26 I drove to Zwolle to visit Hedon for the first time since quite some time. Wende had a show here with band and I really wanted to see her again. I saw her in Groningen in November last year, but to see her in a club-gig seemed a very interesting concept.

Driving to Zwolle on the day that the Dutch TT was held is an interesting experience. Long traffic jams, motorcyclists passing you by on every possible side and the amount of spectators that sit besides the roads are incredible. All the way from Assen to Zwolle in the most unexpected places there’s people cheering the motorcyclists on.

The Hedon doors opened at 20:00 and around 21:00 the venue was well filled when Wende Snijders and band came onto the stage. The gig was incredible. Switching from small singer/songwriter to cabaret, electro-beats, piano ballads and Wende capturing the audience attention with her incredibly intense, passionate performance. Her voice is just sublime and with her sensually walking on stage, Wende wrapped the audience around her hand with ease.

Most of the songs played were from her latest English album, but they also played a French chanson that was totally reworked to suit her current style. The gig was awesome, absolutely blew me away. The gig in Groningen last year was good, but here in Hedon -in a club-venue- it all fitted together

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Cuby & The Blizzards and Mooi Wark at TT Festival

On Thursday June 24 the second night of the TT Festival started and as the Dutch were playing the last match in the first round of the world cup, a large screen was set up for the crowd to see the match and as the Dutch won, the crowd were happy. A good start of the evening and in preparation to the first gig the DJ had the crowd jumping, singing and doing the polonaise, with beer flying through the air and an ever more cheery bunch of festival goers.

But they were here for music (well, a lot were probably mostly there for the beer, but must were there for music) and Thursday was the Night for the ‘Assenaren’ (inhabitants of Assen), but we didn’t mind if you weren’t from Assen. As long as you had a good time. Th first act of the evening was out national Blues legend “Cuby & The Blizzards”, the band that practically introduced blues to the Netherlands.

The band has been inactive for a few years but have been on the road for a long time again now and still produce new songs and albums and they have a loyal support. Musically they’re also still very good. Not as raw and rock-like as the new generation of bluesbands, but they manage very well.

Playing a set consisting of lots of old time favorites and some new work, they played a great set and these days they expanded the band with a horn-section, where I recognized one of the New Cool Collective members. A great gig and I was glad to see these men still hold their own

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Although at first I told myself that I’d go home after Cuby & The Blizzards, standing where I stood, I thought I might just as well wait for the next act: Mooi Wark. A band singing in Dutch dialect. The songs are a bit camp and are based on utter nonsence, but I must admit that if you filter out the lyrics and the idiotic nonsense in between the songs, the music itself is tightly played and at times even reminds me of Status Quo. Beer was flying around a lot and the crowd was getting jollier by the minute so once I had my photos I got the heck out of there. It was fun, but not really my kinda music

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Caro Emerald and Waylon at the TT Festival

Wednesday evening June 23 the ‘TT Festival’ began in Assen. Three evenings of fun, fair and music to entertain the masses that are attending the TT Races on Saturday and the training and qualifying sessions before that. Wednesday was dubbed Soul Night and they had three national soul acts on the main stage. The first was local singer Roan whom I did not see. The next two artists were more up my alley.

The second act of the evening was Caro Emerald with band. They play a mix of ballroom jazz, mambo and a bit of jump’n’jive. Swinging, joyful summer music. Caro’s name is rising quickly in the scene with the album ‘Deleted scenes from the cutting room floor’ doing very well. Internationally her star is also rising when her version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ was discovered in America.

The was a large crowd on the ‘Koopmansplein’ where the main stage was set and the mood was very good. The band played a great and cheery set (any band including a piece of Ennio Morricone filmscore in their live act is a good band in my books), all the hits and singles were played and of course as an encore ‘Bad Romance‘ just had to be played and was received incredibly well by the audience. Fantastic gig.

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After Caro’s encore the stage had to be rebuilt for the next act and the audience was entertained by a DJ set playing some goldies oldies that underwent a dancebeat update and some popular singalongs. But a quarter to twelve it was time for the next act: Waylon, a Dutch soul-singer who participated in ‘Holland’s Got Talent’ (finished in second place) and eventually got signed to Motown. He has a great band with him and though the music isn’t really up my alley, I must say I was impressed. He has a great voice and won the audience over easily.

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Billy Talent in De Oosterpoort

Last night Billy Talent played at De Oosterpoort in Groningen. I very nearly missed this one as the approval e-mail was received minutes after I had left for cycling training. Thinking I’d not get to see this gig, I went for a 70km trip and got home at 20:00. Only then I found out that I did get to go there after all and had about 30 minutes to shower, get the gear together and get over there. I’ve never been so happy with opening acts as I was last night.

Upon arriving at the venue the band Ravens, a local act, was playing the last bit of their set. I haven’t heard enough to really have an opinion about this gig, but the audience seemed to like it

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Once the Ravens had left the stage, I tried to get a little closer to the front of the stage. Shots from the side are fine, but in the middle of the action is better. Didn’t get all the way to the front, but I found a slot anyway and it was only going to be for about a song and a half.

About half past nine the lights went out and the band came onto the stage, under loud roars and applause from the audience (aged around 20, man I felt old). Being a punk-rock band, the band dived in full power and that rubbed off on the audience that jumped, pogoed, sang and screamed to every band’s request. The pit was formed in no time. Light was fantastic and I would have loved to see the whole show, but with a gruesomely busy week ahead I thought the better of it. Loved the energetic show though

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Take Root 2010

It still a few months till the festival is held, but after reading a few Twitterposts of the Take Root festival I couldn’t help but post a blog about this upcoming festival.

More and more names are starting to be added to the line-up and after having been disappointed with the line-up of the past few festivals in this part of the Netherlands this year, the Take Root line-up is starting to look like the best line-up I’ve seen like… forever! The artists that have been named so far are just amazing and I really can’t wait for this years addition. The list isn’t final yet, but here are -in no particular order- a few names that have been made public:

– Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan (wow… that’s just so awesome)
– Phosphorescent (very curious to hear this, should be fantastic)
– Wilco (main act with long show)
– Iron & Wine (wanted to see this for so long, love this band)
– Black Mountain (psychedelic heavy rock, odd name in the list, but I love them)
– Damien Jurado (only seem him once, curious to see him again)
– Frank Fairfield (ought to be a great act)
– Carrie Rodriguez (loved her CD with Chip Taylor, can’t wait to see her on her own)

More names are to be added, but this on it’s own is already an awesome list and I do believe this to be one of the best line-ups of Take Root ever. September’s gonna be a great month :)

Guus Janssen, Oene van Geel & Ernst Reijseger in Vera

On June 16 the fourth and final De Derde Helft (The Third Half) was held, a concept introducing modern classical music to a younger audience. Held in the Vera venue, the music has a way more open and less formal character. Also, by choosing modern classical music you learn that there is much more then ‘merely’ Bach and Mozart.

On this last evening of this series Guus Janssen (piano), Oene van Geel (violin) and Ernst Reijseger (cello) led the audience though some interesting, complex compositions with a highly experimental character and every so often some jazz or blues rhythms found their way through the compositions. At first I had to reset my mind expecting more structured music, but once I was in the right frame of mind I enjoyed myself a lot.

The first two sets were played by the trio and in the third set three students were added to the group and the sextet played another four compositions that went down very well too. The concert went very well, an attentive audience, a familiar atmosphere with room for a little fun here and there and lots of great music

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The Black Box Revelation in Vera

Arno Hintjens had given the evening a good start of Belgian bands in Groningen, but there were more to be seen. Vera had The Black Box Revelation on the agenda  and opening for them were The Van Jets, also from Belgium.

I managed to get to the Vera venue in time to catch a good part of the set of The Van Jets. A lot of light and tons of it from the rear of the stage. The sound rough and wild mixed with a bit of glamrock and lots of happy little girls at the front of the stage. A fun set

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But as soon as the stage was rebuilt the main act came on and rocked the venue. The Black Box Revelation is a duo. Two young guns in a setup much like The Black Keys, but wilder. Rouch blues, some punkrock and a good load of garage rock. Wild drums, screaming guitar and endless amounts of furious enthusiasm. It was absolutely fantastic

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Arno Hintjens in De Oosterpoort

On June 12 Belgian Arno Hintjens and his band played in the small hall in the Oosterpoort venue in Groningen.

Arno plays a mix of rock, blues, new wave and French chansons and flirts with Arabian music. His voice is a raw, lived through one and he looks impressive on stage.  His band is as varied as are his songs and the sound is great.

However, seeing as I have two other Belgian bands to shoot that evening, I’m forced to leave after 6 songs. A shame, it sounds great