Shot in the dark – part 1


Aled Thomas shares some of the highlights of his music photography along with the stories that go with them

Joel O’Keefe, Airboune, Whelans, Dublin. 17th June 2008.

Rogue Mag Music - Joel OKeefe, Airbourne
Joel OKeefe, Airbourne / © Aled Thomas

There was a buzz about this new band, Airbourne. A friend of mine who has a rock and metal radio show had given me their debut CD; I’d liked what I heard, and got my hands on a ticket to their first gig in Ireland, which was in Whelans.

Whelan’s – which, after all, is a pub rather than a venue – was packed full of people in the know, and was vibrant with anticipation. I found myself stage right beside a speaker stack, when another photographer budged over to let me squeeze in to a small space.

Airbourne exploded onto the stage and the energy didn’t relent for the entire show. I only had one lens with me and luckily it was just the right focal length for Joel O’Keefe’s stage position.

The volume at the show was immense. As Fidel Castro once said to the Manic Street Preachers, it was louder than war. I had my left ear next to the speaker stack for the entire show. At the end of the show my ear was completely useless. I was 28 at the time, and I’d been going to gigs since I was 18, but that was the show that finally convinced me to wear ear plugs!

Nikon D300 | Nikon 50mm f/1.8D | ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/500sec

Crucified Barbara, TJ’s, Newport. 11th September 2008.

Rogue Mag Music - Crucified Barbara
Crucified Barbara / © Aled Thomas

This shot makes it look like I was actually standing on the stage, but the truth is that it was just a very small stage and I was able to stand very close!

Some of the best gigs I’ve ever seen were in TJ’s, a small club in South East Wales which is sadly no longer with us. The people of Newport are unhinged, so going to see a band there was a case of ‘hold onto yourself and try to stay alive’, which is what made it so damn exciting. Throw in a band that didn’t care about your safety and you had a recipe for a real rock ‘n’ roll show.

I’d gone to see Backyard Babies; Crucified Barbara were the support band. Usually, rock photography involves peering through the lens at hairy arsed men, so to shoot a band composed of attractive, young Swedish girls was a more than welcome change. They also rocked.

Nikon D300 | Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G | ISO 3200, f/2.8, 1/60sec

Paul Di’anno, Whelans, Dublin. 6th April 2009.

Rogue Mag Music - Paul Di'anno
Paul Di'anno / © Aled Thomas

I got into this gig through the support band, Sinocence, whose Dublin gigs I’d been shooting. I remember that I couldn’t get anything decent while the band were playing, as Di’anno had the microphone in front of his face all the time. However, between the songs, he engaged the crowd with a bit of banter, which is when he became animated. His stories were actually more entertaining than the songs.

Nikon D700 | Nikon 50mm f/1.8D | ISO 1600, f/1.8, 1/200sec

Amen, Lordi, Button Factory, Dublin. 15th February 2009.

Rogue Mag Music - Amen, Lordi
Amen, Lordi / © Aled Thomas

I remember being severely hung over at this show. I didn’t have a photo pass, but it just so happened that due to Lordi’s pyro, no one was allowed in the photo pit anyway. So I was in the same position as the photographers that had passes (apart from the fact that I’d paid for my ticket, of course).

I recall that my back was hurting and my body was crying out for some rest, but the band was such a spectacle that I just stayed where I was near the front of the crowd and kept shooting.

Nikon D300 | Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G | ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/160sec

To see more of Aled Thomas’s work go to



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