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Buffalo Tom’s Chris Colbourn, shot on tour in Holland in 2007

Back in April 2004, I travelled to Zagreb, Croatia, to take pictures of Nashville country-soul outfit Lambchop. I’d interviewed their genial frontman Kurt Wagner back in 2000 and seen them play a number of concerts in London. This was the period after their breakthrough album ‘Nixon’ and its delicate follow-up ‘Is a Woman’.

It was a few years after I’d really got into photography. I was looking for a project that I could return to year after year. Backstage at a Lambchop show in London, I suggested to Kurt that I would catch up with the band at various shows, shooting the cities they played in, and their concerts, and crucially the stuff the audience don’t see – especially the soundchecks. The band’s concert, at SC on the Croatian capital, was the first of a range of shows I covered, from London to Moscow, New York to Istanbul.

But that project also changed focus. Itching to practice more using the limited light at soundchecks, I began shooting other bands.


I photographed alt-country singer Josh Rouse in a London rehearsal room just before a European tour. I shot Calexico and Iron and Wine before a momentous gig at London’s Kentish Town Forum. Portishead’s return to touring after a 13-year hiatus working on their third album. Crowded House playing an unlikely post-reformation show in Moscow. All of them, shot on black and white film, pushed to 3200 or 6400, no flash and using those limited pools of light to bring out the details.

It is 10 years since that project started, and the first decade seems a good opportunity to take stock. This year, I wanted to start editing down the images from the session – nearly 25 bands, and hundreds of rolls of film – into a set to exhibit. It’s also a good transition, because the film the vast majority of these images were shot on, Fuji Neopan, has been discontinued. It’s time to choose a replacement (probably Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5) and begin stage two.

And it’s taking place not in London, where I’ve lived for the past 20 years, but in Cluj-Napoca, in north-western Romania. By happy coincidence there’s a photography and music venue there called the Zorki Photo Café – and it’s owner, Raul Stef, was kind enough to invite me to Cluj to do an exhibition. It starts next Saturday.

So the images here some tof the 15 forming this first exhibition. These images have sat in my Flickr stream for as long as a decade. It’s the first time many of them have been printed, and the difference between those tiny digital scans and the handprints I picked up from London’s Bayeux lab this week is incredible; the depth of resolution of proper handprints printed on fibre paper just can’t be beat. Many thanks to Terry Hack and all at Bayeux for doing such a fantastic job.

Combing through these images and coming up with a set to exhibit has been really rewarding (thanks so much to all my friends who took the time to vote on what should make it). I hope next week’s exhibition won’t be the last.

Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 2010
Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam, London Kentish Town Forum, 2006
The Maccabees, London Brixton Academy, 2009
Buffalo Tom’s Tom Maginnis, Ghent Vooruit, 2007
Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, London Hammersmith Apollo, 2008
Josh Rouse, Newcastle Cluny, 2006
David Kilgour, Napier’s Lattitude, New Zealand, 2007
Taane Tokona, Napier’s Lattitude, New Zealand, 2007
The National’s Matt Berninger, Luxembourg Den Atelier, 2010

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Stephen Dowling
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9 years ago

I think the Taane Tokona shot with the cymbal is particularly good. Great project!

8 years ago
Reply to  michaelcboxall

Thanks Michael. It’s one of my favourites aswell.

Joe shoots resurrected cameras

I’ve loved your soundcheck pictures. Good luck with the exhibition!

8 years ago

Cheers Joe. It was a great experience. Here’s to more in 2015.

Patti Kuche
9 years ago

How exciting and am sure these great shots will do well at your exhibition!

8 years ago
Reply to  Patti Kuche

Thank you Patti.