High Fives 2023(8) – Allan – The Eyes Have It


Here’s another set of photos from Allan and he’s been putting a bit of effort in on his themes. None of the usual male or female artists, black and white or monochrome, he’s been a bit more creative with his categories. You have to keep the mind occupied when you’re getting on a bit.

If I’m working really close to an artist (and I usually am), then I’ll often set the focus point on the camera on one of the eyes. The old saying, attributed to many people over the years that the eyes are the window of the soul is particularly true of performers; you can feel the intensity lasering towards you. There are many singers who close their eyes while singing; you won’t find them in this set of photos.


I like HUX a lot. He’s a great singer-songwriter with a beautiful voice and he’s become a great collaborator as well. I saw him a few times as a solo performer who could stop audiences in their tracks, then as a harmony vocalist with Say Anise (yeah, it’s a small world) and then also playing bass with Say Anise as well as singing harmonies. As well as all of this, he has an incredibly striking visual presence:

Dan Shears (The Velveteen Orkestra)

I’ve worked a lot with Dan since shooting him at a John Lennon birthday tribute at the Hard Rock Hotel in Marble Arch. The Velveteen Orkestra is his project with long-term collaborator Sarah Boughton and a revolving cast of supporting musicians creating a unique blend of music that has been described “a ragged-trousered rock and roll orchestra” although there are elements of Eastern European music and louche 1930s Weimar cabaret in there as well. Dan’s a really engaging guy with an earthy sense of humour which breaks out on stage between songs as a contrast to the intensity of his performance. This is one of the intense bits:

Ernie McKone (bass player with Matt Johnson from Jamiroquai)

There’s not a lot to say about this shot. Ernie’s a great bass player and the lighting in The Jazz Café was challenging. When I finally found a break in the tsunami of hazer, I saw Ernie looking directly at me. One shutter press and done. The blue lighting gives it a kind of jazz feel. And, apologies to Matt Johnson, but this was by far the best shot I got on the night:

Kiara Chettri

This was the second time I had seen Kiara and the first time with her full band. She can belt out rockers with the best of them but she also excels on the slower, more challenging songs. In this shot, taken downstairs at 229 The Venue, she’s looking towards her incredible guitar player Kiuzano in one of those band interactions that you manage to capture sometimes:

Lisa Canny

What can I say about Lisa Canny? She’s non-stop, she’s funny, she has a fabulous voice, she plays harp and banjo to an incredibly high standard and she’s completely committed to her musical vision of blending traditional Irish music with more progressive elements like pop and rap. It hasn’t always made her popular on the traditional Irish scene but that’s not going to stop her; she’s a woman on a mission. I’ve shot Lisa loads of times and I always get something different and it’s always intense. This was shot at The Dublin Castle in Camden:

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