Time for a few more of Allan’s shots from 2021. Just by way of a change, they’re all colour shots.

I do a lot of black and white work these days, for various reasons, mainly to do with getting the best results with low lighting levels, but I do still like a splash of colour. Here are a few shots from 2021 (well, the part of it where we actually had gigs to shoot) where the colour treatment works well. Three of them are helped along by brilliant sunshine as well. Here we go:

Stilt Walker @Becontree 100 I’m fascinated by stilt walkers, possibly because my balance is so bad that I could fall off the floor. At any music festival you can guarantee that you’ll see stilt walkers. You can also guarantee that they’ll be colourful and glittery. Another helpful thing is that they’re entertainers and part of their job is to engage with the public, including photographers. What sets this apart from the majority of my gig shots is that I wasn’t trying to get a background as close to black as possible; exactly the opposite, in fact, and the colours really pop against the almost completely white background, and the long zoom allowed me to crop tightly to get rid of any extraneous background.

Duncan Menzies @Hackney Wick Duncan Menzies is a member of the London folk trio Copper Viper but at this gig, he was playing fiddle for Dana Immanuel and the Stolen Band at an outdoor gig as lockdown restrictions began to lift. This shot was taken during the interval as Duncan was preparing to rejoin the band for the second set. It’s a striking outfit and the contrast between the traditional clothes and hat and the reflective sunglasses is what makes the picture work.

Cloudy Galvez @Servant Jazz Quarters, Dalston This shot isn’t packed with vibrant colours but it has a very warm feel that conveys the atmosphere of the gig. The shot has a glow that matches Cloudy’s smile, which was pretty much fixed during the whole set. It was a very special night because it was the first gig for Cloudy as part of her recovery from long COVID. It’s been a long journey but she’s back on stage again doing what she does best. I think this shot captures the ambience of the evening.

Georgia South (Nova Twins) @Becontree 100 The reason I was at Parsloes Park in Dagenham was to see Nova Twins. They’ve spent the last five or six years working their way through the lower reaches of the music business and it’s just beginning to pay off. Georgia South makes some amazing sounds with her bass and a battery of effects to complement Amy Love’s guitar playing and vocals and spends a lot of time dancing around her pedals stomping on footswitches. Nova Twins always help photographers out with bright clothes and Georgia’s hair is always striking. She does a great smile as well.

Eleni (Echo Wants her Voice Back) @Pizza Express, Holborn Pizza Express is a bit of a challenge. The lighting’s a bit bland but you can work around the cabaret seating to get some decent shooting angles. If you want a green room shot, take along an ultra-wide lens. You can around the lighting and get good results in colour if an artist’s wearing something colourful. Eleni was pretty helpful in that respect, wearing a shade of green that worked perfectly in those lighting conditions. The other thing that makes the image striking is Eleni’s long black hair, particularly falling across one side of the face. Eleni’s a powerful performer, but it’s always nice to catch a shot where the artist is totally in the moment, almost serene.

Time for another single, this time from the London-based acoustic folk duo Copper Viper, which is Robin Joel Sangster (vocals and guitar) and Duncan Menzies (vocals, bouzouki and violin), except it isn’t this time because the duo’s a quartet for this release, and they sound very different. The two additional personnel are Issy Ferris (backing vocals) and Archie Sylvester (backing vocals, drums, bass and electric guitar). That’s Ferris and Sylvester, of course, known for their dynamic live performances and Archie’s also the producer for this single.

So this is Copper Viper, Jim, but not as we know it. “Opal and the Bear” opens with an atmospheric, Ennio Morricone-tinged intro, leading in to a first verse that could almost be Copper Viper au naturelle. The first chorus gradually builds to a second verse with the full band and a second chorus with the addition of electric guitar as well. There’s an acoustic solo that’s part Morricone/part Django Rheinhardt before a breakdown into an almost a cappella chorus and a final build-up before an acoustic guitar outro.

This single is dynamic and anthemic and it’s a perfect example of a seemingly unlikely collaboration creating a truly original piece of work.

“Opal and the Bear” is released on Friday January 29th on Under the Bower Records to download and stream.