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The Maccabees' Hugo White, Brixton Academy, 2009
Guitarist Hugo White, shot on stage at the Brixton Academy

Ten years after starting my soundcheck photography project, shooting bands as they rehearse for the night’s show, it looks like I’ll be holding my first proper exhibition.

That means I’ve started trawling back through the archive and finding the best images. Over the last 10 years, I’ve shot some 25 bands – from Moscow in Russia to Napier in New Zealand, Istanbul to New York, London to Luxembourg.

The image above is my favourite from shooting The Maccabees before their Brixton Academy show back in 2009.

Their Brixton date just after release of the band’s second album ‘Wall of Arms‘ – suddenly, they were going from playing to hundreds to a London show of nearly 5,000. Understandably, the soundcheck was a pretty lengthy affair. This was the biggest headline show the Maccabees had played up until that point, and they weren’t leaving anything to chance. Quite apart from the photos I got from the session, it was great to see a band poised for that tipping point, the moment where everything goes up a gear. There was a tangible air of expectation and a bubbling, nervous energy.

The Brixton Academy stage is a big one, and I was able to creep around taking pics without the band sparing me more than the odd glance. As the lighting crew started testing the lights for the night’s show, I saw guitarist Hugo White standing in front of one of them – whenever the lights were activated, he was surrounded backlit with rays of blinding light. It’s one of those things that can turn an average shot into a much more dramatic one – like this shot I took of Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam back in 2006.

I had enough time to shoot a few frames as the lights flickered on and off – this was the best of them. Though Hugo is very much the centre of attention, there’s other deatils merging from the gloom, like singer Orlando Weekes on the left, and the black silhouette of the microphone in the foreground on the right.

The contrast between the quiet industry of a soundcheck and the energy and excitement at the gig a few hours later is always stark; but the difference that night was incredible.

* Like all the recent soundcheck material, the Maccabees session was shot on a Nikon F100 and a Nikon FM2N, with a 50/1.8 and 85/1.8, all on Fuji Neopan film rated at 6400.

Check out more of The Maccabees soundcheck pics on Flickr.

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Stephen Dowling
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9 years ago

Excellent news! Keep me posted on the when, where and how.

9 years ago

These are so good! I love shooting gigs and shooting film but I never mix the two, I may have to try. Also, I do like the maccabees, great stuff!