I have to be honest, the last few weeks of March have been very trying with many personal issues and health issues to deal with, which I won't go into here but just to say it has not been easy. My mind has been totally focused on doing what's needed to be done, but still, even for me who can normally cope with anything, it was hard and I needed to re-focus my mind on a regular basis.
Now I had several gigs booked in to shoot and review but circumstances meant that I ended up cancelling a few of these shows, which I hate to do, as I have already committed to these but sometimes it is just unavoidable, as was the case this time. Real world issues will always take priority, that is something I will always stand by. Other commitments that hadn't even taken off yet had to be scrapped because I knew that I just would not have the time to commit anymore. I made my apologies to the people concerned, but again it was a decision I had to make based on the current situation. If I can't commit 100% then I would rather not commit at all.
There were still gigs pending which I was ever hopeful that I may still be able to attend that were fast approaching, but even with 20 minutes to go before I was due to leave, it was still unclear as to whether or not I would even travel. Things were looking a little brighter, only a little, but I felt I could spare a couple of hours so decided to go and shoot a show which I had been looking forward to for a long time. Throughout the few hours I was away It was really difficult to concentrate because my mind was elsewhere, but I definitely needed this, more than I actually realised.
The show was in Southampton at my favourite venue, The 1865, and because I was familiar with the venue etc, I knew I could leave it as late as possible to arrive, as there was always going to be a good chance of parking right outside the venue. I arrived, entered and said hello to a few people before I got into shooting mode.
Now people who know me will tell you that when I am shooting a show, I am 100% blinkered and totally focused on the job in hand. This was extremely difficult on this evening, but I did give it my all and although I left a little early. I felt I had acheived the desired results and had enough decent pictures to use.
Now Danny Bryant was the support for the tour and he played an excellent set to open the evening. His playing is exemplary and he really put on a fine display for the crowd, warming them up nicely ready for the main event. I am certain he would have gained many new fans from people who had not seen him before.
It was time for the headliner to take to the stage with his band who are an eclectic mix of characters, but all work perfectly together. The lights came up and the crowd roared as Eric Gales, who is considered by many as the best guitar player in the world today, stood there taking it all in for a few seconds before striking that first chord.
It was a spectacular show with some of the funkiest guitar playing since I last saw my musical hero Prince. Eric has everything, a commanding stage presence, a unique look, is an amazing guitar virtuoso, basically he is just an unstoppable force of nature. It was an amazing evening of wonderful music played by some of the finest musicians I have had the pleasure to experience for a long time. Definitely worth taking the few hours off to go and experience it.
As soon as I left the venue, my mind was re-directed back to the ongoing issues, but that did not detract from a well needed couple of hours in the company of musical greatness. Back home in less than an hour which was a welcome bonus.
Things started to look a little more under control over the next few days and there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel, although it still looked like a pretty long tunnel. A few more days passed with improvement all round however small, so I felt I could spend another few hours one evening back at The 1865, again for a wonderful night of blues/blues rock in the presence of South African Dan Patlansky with support from Arielle who was over from the states for this tour. This was the opening night and thanks to Peter Noble, I had arranged to get there a little early to do a few portraits of both artists before doors. They both graciously agreed and I ended up with some wonderful images that in my opinion, looked great. I have been really enjoying these portrait sessions and each time I am learning more and more. Portraits done, now time for the show.
It was another busy night and the venue was pretty crowded. Arielle took to the stage with just a bass player as company and absolutely killed it. For someone of such petite stature, her voice was as strong as anyone's and she made many new fans with that opening performance. Wonderful vocal and guitar playing performance.
Dan Patlantsky took to the stage and just hit us with probably one of my favourite tracks from the new album, for which he was touring, before giving us a fantastic collection of new and old music from his extensive catalogue of tunes. He is an amazing guitar player who knows his way around a fretboard like very few others, or at least that's how it felt that night.
Performance enjoyed and images captured, it was time to vacate and head home.
Now throughout all the issues over the past few weeks, and the ones that are ongoing, once again my sanity was saved by music. I had a wonderful end to a chaotic and turbulent few weeks where I went from feeling the Blues to being saved by the Blues...... Onwards and upwards people.....