20180410_213009The last time the Vaccines played Nottingham was in 2015 – I think, I’m guessing  it was  with the release of  ‘English Graffiti’  and whilst I could have gone, despite wanting to I didn’t – I must have seriously lost plot at the time!

Now with the release of ‘Combat Sports’ they are back on the road again with a long tour taking in the UK and Europe and including headlining Reading and Leeds.  I did wonder why they were back at Rock City rather than the Arena, but hey,  I know Rock City and some things you only question momentarily!

Doors opened at 7.00 and the band were on at about 9.00, the set was simple with 4 huge film lights and a massive glitter ball, and no fuss and no frills. Plus of course huge batteries of lights and smoke machines to the sides.

20180410_215400Coming on to Abba’s Waterloo, with the exception of a few minutes when they went off (to solicit an encore) they played solidly for 80 minutes.  It really was as simple as if you knew it they played it including parts of Combat Sports. Unlike other bands who have changed as they have developed new audiences the Vaccines have stayed true to where  they started and what they are great at. They put on a show and then some,  in answer to my initial question why Rock City again – you just couldn’t do it any other  way!

At a relentless pace it was fun, it was loud and it was brilliant, best party ever!  and the best thing I’ve seen at Rock City for years and I must have been going for the last 25-30!



Bales and an Old Railway Line


It would appear that my blog sporadically deals with a remarkably narrow range of subjects,  this time I have been out walking as I have done most of the winter,  again this blog is about my walk.

With the change in the clocks and a warm spring day I was out walking as usual.  I have long taken an interest in the old railway lines near where I live, they are fascinating both from the stories could tell and the remarkable number of apple trees that line the route.  No doubt the result of drivers, firemen (and possibly guards) throwing apple cores off the foot plate, not giving a thought to what may result, now many years later these mature trees line what was the route of the track and bear fruit every year.

Some tracks are no more than a shallow tree lined trough in the ground where a track and bank used be,  in one a farmer has put bales and debris to block the former route, now overgrown the bales are degrading and producing a fascinating landscape.


This weekend started on Thursday, it was not the plan however a professional networking event in London was the start. I planned to stay overnight and the following morning made the short journey to the National Gallery, the plan was to see the Monochrome Exhibition and that I did.


It was a diverse and interesting show, particularly showing how artists would start with a painting, produce an intermediate monochrome print before going onto produce etched prints, interestingly the two in the show were in mirror (reversed). This way they could produce a product to sell at a comparatively low cost compared to the original painting.


Whilst there it was fascinating to look the portraits and how the various artists had handled light, there were a couple of other shows, and it was such a pleasure to wander round a small show of Degas work that was one of the best things there, I do like his work and the delicate was he handles light.


At the end of it all it was back home to the Midlands and over the weekend I have enjoyed the countryside and the lovely light late in the day. On Saturday I was out in the sunshine with a Polaroid camera, on Sunday I was out with an old friend – a tiny little compact digital camera, pocket sized. It was lovely weather and on occasions it really is just the simple things that is all one needs.


Perhaps it’s just me but isn’t it funny how remote places with wild histories are attractive. Last year after my holiday I left the Shetlands that are a very beautiful collection of Islands with a feeling  of the modesty of the location in a very harsh environment, being at 60degrees latitude brings with it certain unique features.

As I left I had the feeling that I needed  the wildness and uncompromising feeling of the  West Coast next year,  and the most extreme place on the West Coast is St Kilda,  almost 100 miles off the mainland and only just visible from the Outer Hebrides on a bright clear day even so they are obscured by the curvature of the earth.


Taking a 9 day trip we sailed (yes sailed) from Oban over a couple of days to St Kilda,   we struggled with the weather because we were on the edges of 2 storms, one as we set out and another mid week however there was a 2 day window we could spend on St Kilda.  The wind direction and weather means that getting into Village Bay can be quite restrictive and there are  conditions when you simply should not be there.

I have been to St Kilda before so knew what to expect,  last time once on the Island we walked North towards Mullach avoiding the Bonxies, this time I wanted to head South West arround the other side of the bay to Ruaival.

Of course we spent time in Village Bay and on the evening of the first day it was great, the light was lovely, I was shooting on film mostly in black and white.


Whilst there I also picked up George Seton’s book ‘St Kilda Past and Present’  that is a survey of the island and island life when he went in 1876. This draws on much of the islands history known at the time and goes back way into it’s past. This is a fascinating book that lacks the romance of some of the more narrative publications. A few weeks later it was wonderful to sit in bed reading about islands I had recetly left and see in my minds eye the same landscape he described as good as unchanged.  It describes a way of life and lifestyle and a series of connections that you would not expect.  The one that has made most impact is that of sailors leaving Norway on a journey that took them to the Orkneys and then onto St Kilda well over 130 years ago.


There was a huge problem with child mortality,  later attributed to infant tetanus that is described in detail, it is facinating to see how the arguments unfolded about the cause of this very high mortality, at that time the actual cause was not known.  From Seton’s book it reads as if it was happening in real time rather than almost 150 years ago.





Over the Bank Holiday Weekend I met one of my closest friends at YSP – it’s a regular haunt of ours, we get to see the latest show and with such a good restaurant we spend ages catching up with what’s important in each others worlds.


Rather than tell you family stories let me tell you about the visit to see the new Tony Cragg show, it was one of 2 in the space of a few days. The second was to hear Tony talk about his work, his lecture was mind blowing it was in effect the 40th anniversary lecture of Tony’s departure to live and work in Germany and the 40th anniversary of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Tony did one of those remarkable things and delivered a lecture lasting almost an hour without a power point slide, an illustration, or any other visual material, yet he held the audience in the palm of his hand hanging onto every word for the entire lecture. It was one of the most detailed and complex lectures I’ve ever heard, every line of reason and argument sat tightly against every other.

Fortunately it was videoed and will appear on YSP’s youtube channel so I can see it again and revisit his lines of thinking and fully understand the depth of his lecture. Every aspect of life right down to it’s molecular structure it was argued was sculpture and in such a complete way it got into how metaphysically sculpture exists.


The work is stunning, the thought that has gone in to the outdoor show is incredible, what is so apparent is how the outdoor work relates both to itself and to the landscape as if it was meant to be there.

I need to revisit my notes, see the work again and hopefully see the lecture again, there is still so much there to understand.

This years Dot to Dot in Nottingham was massive, I’ve not counted up  the number of acts, but spread over 40 venues in Notts with some venues opening their doors at 1pm and not closing them until 1am, there was a huge number of artists across many genres.


From many years of going I have learnt a number of things, firstly the headliners may not be the best acts around the festival and secondly interesting things can be found on the smaller stages and many will be just out of the lime light of the big acts. But in 2 or 3 years they will be the ones breaking through,  a few years ago Ragandbone man was on in a basement just after the headliner had finished elsewhere – he was clearly superb then.

Someone in that vein is Ellie Rose, she has a great voice, and on her own with a guitar on a small stage she held the filled room in her hand at 3.30 in the afternoon – little signs, but they are all there. Early in the evening Luis Berry at Rock City made Amber Run and the headliner Sundara Karma look second best,  the two later acts were very competent, and for Amber Run it was a homecoming.  Luis Berry just had that special something, the band came on – and he came on 15 seconds later  to greet his audience,  it was his gig, he had fun, and we had fun with him,  most of the set he had a smile on his face he also had backing singers who lifted the vocal and added that bit of depth and detail to his sound. Whilst it was his show he introduced and valued every member the band.  He’s already had allot of success and I’m sure nobody will be able to keep him down.


Other early acts that looks as if they have something are Shrives and Ashfield, on the unusual end of the scale was Bone Cult,  I’m not sure what they have but live it was good!   The great thing about Dot to Dot is that you are looking for the winners from about 2-3 years out,  and again this year I think I’ve  found a couple!



I have already mentioned my love of film, in my own work I’m shooting on film more and more.

There is something about shooting film you don’t get with digital, with digital you can ‘hose it down’ with images, with film you can’t, you have to know what you want to shoot and get it in the fewest possible number of frames.

It’s a great discipline and unless you have shot film you don’t realise how alive this makes you feel, it sharpens the senses,  it focuses your mind, it gets you to think more tightly about every aspect of what you want to shoot, and with this sharpness as you look you’ll be surprised how much more you see. Keep in mind though there are limits,  every film behaves differently particularly when you ask it to do something it was not designed to do, and if you do when you get it back it will contain all sorts of interesting surprises.

With digital you can ‘machine gun’ every angle of a set and every expression made by your model  in the knowledge that you can find the one that works later when you get everything on screen, after all ‘it has to be in there somewhere’.  With digital you don’t have to commit to anything on set when you shoot, equally nor does your client, but the danger is that this can become a mind set, and for some it is.


It’s very simple with film you have to take almost all your decisions in real time, right in the moment as you shoot, with digital you can take almost all the decisions retrospectively once you get back to the screen, it’s no wonder film is so exciting.

Some years ago I attended Werner Herzog’s Rogues Film School, he recounted the story of shooting Bad Lieutenant with Nicholas Cage (Herzog was the Director).  They started shooting at 10am and Herzog had everything he wanted by mid day,  however the Assistant Directors (AD) wanted allot more incidental footage covering every possible angle and detail they could find so they could add and tweak the film in the cutting room. Herzog said no, he had what he wanted, the AD’s were not happy and they continued to make demands, that was until Cage also said no telling the AD’s they were ‘working with a man who knew what he was doing’.