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Most of the time shooting bands at soundcheck, the light levels are low – really low. There’s a fraction of the light that’s onstage during showtime, so often it’s trying to find pools of light amidst the shadows.

Back in 2007, however, I was shooting in a very different venue. I’d taken a trip back home for six weeks to my native New Zealand, and arranged to go out on tour with my friend David Kilgour‘s band, touring the North Island to promote David’s brilliant album ‘The Far Now’. After a gig in Wellington, we ended up in Napier, a coastal city almost totally destroyed in a 1931 earthquake and boasting an incredible array of art deco buildings.

It turned out the venue, Latitude Live, was one of them, boasting a beautiful skylight over the stage that let in bright summer light during afternoon rehearsals for Kilgour and his band The Heavy Eights.

David Kilgour’s something of a living legend in NZ; the band he formed as a teenager in Dunedin in the late 1970s, The Clean, helped kickstart one of the most vital independent music scenes in the world. And Kilgour is an incredible guitarist; a cursory listen through the The Clean’s peerless compilation ‘Anthology’ should be all the evidence you need.

Before settling on a pair of Nikon cameras and Fuji Neopan to shoot the soundcheck sessions, I used a few other cameras aswell; I would usually take along a Voigtlander Bessaflex TM M42-mount SLR loaded with Kodak Tri-X film. Tri-X is one of the best black-and-white films ever made and is really pushable, while always having great contrast and blacks with real bite. This was one of the occasions I didn’t really need to push the film too much; all that light streaming in from the window above.

This shot is taken on a Bessaflex and Tri-X, a close-up of fingers lifted off the strings, a split-second in an afternoon of glorious noise.

Check out more of the pics from the David Kilgour tour in the Flickr set. David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights release a new album, ‘End Times Undone’, in August.

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Stephen Dowling
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