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.

Georgia and Amy TitleIt’s been a couple of years since we last visited Birthdays in Dalston, so it was good to get an invite for the monthly Amazing Radio/Robomagic F.T.F.H. (Finding the Female Headliners) night. It’s a simple concept; all of the bands playing are either female-fronted or completely female, and if this is a typical line-up, then it’s worth making the effort to get the Overground out to Dalston Kingsland once a month. If you don’t live in London, don’t worry; I suspect this particular franchise might be making its way around the country soon. This month’s bill featured bands from Leeds, Stockholm and London, so it’s not just a parochial London thing.

Opening the bill, Actor (from Leeds) featured the stunning voice of Louisa Osborn against a backdrop of shimmering guitars and big drums. The songs are strong and the smallish audience warmed immediately to Louisa’s warm stage presence, but her incredibly powerful voice is the focal point of the set. A great start to the night and the bar was already pretty high for the remaining bands.

Dolores Haze (from Stockholm) brought along their own very vocal and very lively fans (probably not from Stockholm) and added another dimension to the evening with a slightly shambolic, spiky set of songs that alternated between thrash, angular and atonal guitar parts and faux-naif B52s style pop. If you threw The Cardigans, Television and Fuzzbox into a blender, then it might sound something like Dolores Haze. Music or performance art; you decide. Their fans certainly loved it and you definitely couldn’t ignore it.

So, on to the headliners, Nova Twins. Amy Love (guitar/vocal) and Georgia South (bass/backing vocals) have just released their first single, “Bassline Bitch” on Rob Hallett’s Robomagic label (reviewed by MusicRiot a couple of weeks ago) and we couldn’t wait for the chance to see them live; it’s fair to say they didn’t disappoint.

In a live setting, Amy and Georgia are the real deal. This isn’t some manufactured image backed up by session musicians; they can both play live and with the addition of drums, they have a huge sound. Georgia’s raw, visceral and melodic basslines are a thumping backdrop for Amy’s guitar, vocals and raps. It’s a fusion of metal, hip-hop and melody that’s almost impossible to resist and it’s delivered with style and assurance. They’ve got the material as well; the set included “Dirty Stop Out”, “Kiss”, Play Fair” and “Hit List” as well as the obligatory “Bassline Bitch” and they all sounded the business. Even the inevitable technical difficulties didn’t faze them; a failed bass lead was just a chance to have a bit of chat with the audience before blasting back into the set again. I think we might be hearing a lot more of Nova Twins.

So it’s a big thumbs up to Amazing Radio and Robomagic for the concept and an even bigger thumbs up to the bands for three great sets.