After a six month COVID-enforced absence, I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to stand in a photopit again.
After a couple of failed experimental socially-distanced gigs over the past months, I'd become really sceptical about when - or even if - live music was going to return. Thankfully, the model that's been adopted by the Unity Arena in Newcastle seems to be working - albeit with, i expect, some considerable financial support from sponsors.
I won't lie, it felt really weird stepping into a music venue again, and this was certainly exaccerbated with the crowd being seperated into individual 'pens'. However, this doesn't seem to have dampened the spirits of the spectators that much at all - throughout the evening the crowd were really getting into proceedings - whilst remaining socially distanced, of course.
Frank Turner was the perfect artist for me to come out of my enforced hiatus, and was certainly worth the two hour drive up the A1. Frank has been one of the loudest voices campaigning for support for all those involved in the entertainment industry, and was one of the first artists to attempt casting a show from home. He also did a fantastic set of Frightened Rabbit covers to support Tiny Changes too, which was awesome!
The show itself was fairly straighforward to shoot, which is exactly what I needed. Frank doesn't tend to throw himself around too much, so there's only really so many shots you can get - but that was fine with me. I wasn't looking to this show to push any boundaries - I just wanted to get back in a pit again, and take some photographs.
And my next gig? I'll be honest, I've no clue. I'll be amazed if it's this year. In theory the Unity Arena model could be applied to Arenas for Academy-sized shows, but that would have a huge reliance on some kind of financial support from someone, so I imagine we'll likely be waiting till next Spring before we get back to any kind of normality.
Big love to all crew at the Virgin Money Unity Arena for their hospitality, all my jolly Geordie tog bretheren, and of course Frank, for doing all he can to try make the world a bit better. It's appreicated, mate.