Three songs only

Between the years of 1988 and 1991 I spent many of my evenings working and partying late in to the night with a great friend and newspaper colleague of mine, the journalist, writer and occasional hell raiser Chris Wilson. God knows the amount of alcohol that both myself and Chris consumed on nights out at concerts between those three years, it is with both wonder and amazement and also a warm feeling of juvenile  pride that we are still both alive today and that any of these images and his copy  ever made it  into print in the next days newspaper.

Brian Ferry NEC 1988

Brian Ferry NEC 1988

It was such a different era for photography, with hindsight it appears to have been a slower and more considered time. In the days of the late 1980’s there was not yet a whiff in the air of the approaching bombardment of pixels of the digital age to come and there was only the faint whisperings from our newspaper editors offices of the, god forbid, probable daily use of colour film at some point in the near future.  In those days I still had endless rolls of black and white film at my disposal and an empty darkroom that was open until way past midnight to occupy.

Kylie, at a Birmingham hotel in 1988

Kylie, at a Birmingham hotel in 1988

In the day time hours the darkroom at the Coventry Evening Telegraph offices was an engaging environment to train in. Roger our darkroom manager who was a genial and diligent but somewhat nervous individual would always be unbelievably busy each morning and would be found churning out hundreds of 7″5″ black and white prints for re-sale to the general public. Poor Roger must have lived a good proportion of his life in partial darkness though. During the long winter months and short day light hours Roger would arrive at work each morning by bus at 7.30am, in the dark. He would disappear through the swinging doors into the darkroom, we would only ever then momentarily glimpse Roger throughout the day as he came out and dried his wet black and white prints. After completing a full days shift and printing more photographs than only a modern inkjet printer could now compete with, Roger would then leave for home. In the dark.

Cher NEC Birmingham 1990

Cher, NEC Birmingham 1990

Roger was a decent god fearing man who when not at work spent all of his spare time immersed with local community and church affairs. I now wonder if there was any long-term  effect on Rogers mental health after spending so much of his working days in a dark red room? For at least one-third Rogers working life he was illuminated only by safe lights. Soon my photography training began at the Coventry Evening Telegraph I realised quiet quickly that because of Rogers nervous disposition he needed to be approached with caution when entering the darkroom. It did not took me much time to realise that it was better for all concerned Roger if  I ever arrived into the darkroom I did so noisily rather than cautiously creeping in.  Any sudden movement  into the darkroom could easily send poor Roger off.  If Roger was ever caught by surprise he would panic at first, then with his thumb and fore finger he would hitch up his grey trousers just above the knee briefly revealing  his polished brown shoes  before he scuttled away mumbling and bumbling an embarrassingly loud and incoherent  tune.

The Eurythmics, NEC 1990

The Eurythmics, NEC 1990

By complete contrast to the day times foul and abusive language the empty darkroom of an evening was a tranquil and calming place to work. playful banter directed between seasoned press photographers, who were always up a against some  deadline or other had,  along with their cigaret smoke disappeared and only the stale smell from overflowing ashtrays tainted the chemical  air.

Bros, NEC 1988

Bros, NEC 1988

I am reliable told by lead vocalist, god of doom hero of Wood End Lee Dorrian, that this image of Napalm Death (below) is one of the rarest of rare photographs, it was shot in the toilet of a club in Birmingham. We were not trying to be cool or anarchic but it was the only place in the club that had any lighting at all, the rest of the club was as dark as a bat cave and if I can remember rightly the band had no lighting on stage at all. Ilford HP5 pushed to 3200 if you will.

Napalm Death Birmingham 1988

Napalm Death Birmingham 1988

 

Jim Kerr Simple Minds Birmingham NEC 1990

Jim Kerr Simple Minds Birmingham NEC 1990

The look of bewilderment on Jim Kerr’s face has much to do with the ‘FACT’ that I have just stolen a couple of his plectrums that he had placed for later use on the floor next to his guitar stand at the front of the stage. Although it isn’t possible to tell by just looking at the photograph, he is in fact singing to 15,000 people and is probably wondering why a photographer would do that. I think it was just an impulse but I did have a good mate who was himself a guitar player and they were a gift for him. I apologise now Jim.

 

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