I was given another opportunity to cover another exciting Irish Village event, this time it's a double bill show of Billy Ocean & UB40 featuring Ali Campbell. The event was held in Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium last 24 March 2016.
I am not a big Billy Ocean fan but I knew almost all of his hit songs, it's my older brothers era that's why his songs are familiar to my ears. But I am a UB40 fanatic - I am hooked with reggae beat, Billy Ocean has a hint of reggae to his music but I literally known him as a soul artist based on his hits like "Suddenly" & "There'll Be Sad Song".
Billy Ocean came out of the stage as scheduled, he was dressed with a smart white suit. The 66 year old 80's R&B sensation came out of the stage with a pleasing smile and a big shout out to the "Guy above" in his greetings, very charismatic and sweet man. He was supported by his full band with 3 ladies for his backing vocals. The crowd started to get wild when he started to play his first song, his moves doesn't reflect his age, he never stop dancing without losing his singing composure. His voice is powerful, synonymous with his recordings, very soothing undiminished voice. You can see from his performance that he genuinely likes to entertain his audience and his fans gave it back to him by singing and dancing on every single songs he played. Naming few songs from his set list, "Suddenly", "Get Out Of My Dreams", "When The Going Gets Tough" and his finale' "Carribean Queen". His rendition of Bob Marley's hit "No Woman, No Cry" was very remarkable which made the crowd waved their hands and sang "Everything's Gonna Be Alright".
The 11-piece band started quarter past 10 with a reggae dub intro, the horn section were a crowd-pleaser. Ali Campbell came out of the stage singing with an upbeat tune "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)", the crowd went mental as they were on their their feet dancing, shrugging their shoulders to the reggae beat and singing along with every words of the song. Astro was phenomenal on his rap segments but the acoustic somehow cannot clearly understand his words because of the boomy sound. They played a lot of good selection from their popular hits like "Cherry Oh!", "Bring Me Your Cup" & and their cover version of Elvis Presley's hit "Can' Help Falling In Love". And for the encore they played, "Food For Thought", "Kingston Town" and the gig was set to an end with their rendition of Neil Diamond's "Red, Red Wine" (the way they sang it was less lively and merrier as what it's supposed to be). Ali's group is one of the two versions of Britain's UB40, there's a feud between the founding members but having the original vocalist to the name is an ace on their sleeve.
The media were allowed to shoot inside the press pit for the first 3 songs of the first act only but it was allowed to shoot anywhere in the venue the entire show. I was a little bit disappointed since I won't be able to shoot all images that I planned for every artist, but rule must be respected so I need to adjust to make things work in this scenario. In a photographer's point of view, the light on the stage is quite fair to get a decent and proper exposure but for the audience's I think it's quite good, less light is very dramatic. Timing is very essential in shooting the artists on the stage, there were spots in the stage that had less light, Billy Ocean moves a lot in the stage so you don't just shoot, you need to wait for him to be on the right spot to get a good exposure. Boosting your ISO is necessary since you need to have a faster shutter speed since Billy dance and moves so fast. For the first set, I was satisfied with the images I have taken before the end of the first 3 songs, so I still have a few seconds to take a couple of shots of the crowd from the press pit's point of view. For the UB40 set, I positioned myself in the front-right side of the stage, the closest I could get. It is very difficult to jump from one spot to another to get a closer shot because the place was so packed and it was so hard to move along with my gear. I just took few close-up shots of Ali and the rest of the band. I tried to take a couple of shot of Mickey but his spot had less light and getting a pleasing shot is quite impossible, Astro was on the opposite side of the stage. As I finished shooting near the stage, I started to roam around the bleachers and grandstand to take different wide shots on different spots of the stadium. The venue has a lot of perfect spots to capture the atmosphere of the gig, stadium full of people are very picturesque. The event was well organized, the security personnel were strict, they don't allow anyone stalling in any pathways and stairs - but they allow the media, giving me the luxury to shoot any point and angle I wish to shoot. As what I have pointed out on my previous blog, shooting a venue packed with people needs the right timing to have a compelling images, you need to wait for the light to hit the crowd before you press the shutter. Because if not, you might have a proper exposure of the artist on stage but the crowd will totally be in pitch black.
I underestimated the first act, I thought Billy Ocean will be boring to my taste and to my photo gallery but I was overwhelmed with his performance and with the result the images I have taken. I may not have a good close up images of Ali & the rest of the UB40 but I was totally happy with the wide shots of the venue packed with audiences.
Some images I took that I preferred to process in monochrome:
And the photos of the happy crowd who wished to have their photos.
Equipments used on this event:
- Nikon D800
- Nikon D810
- Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D
- Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
- Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED VR
- Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
- Think Tank Retrospective 30
- Manfrotto Self Standing Monopod 682b + Benro Head
- Black Rapid Strap - Sport
Related blog: Shooting at the Pit