Yesterday I was booked to shoot at Guns ‘n’ Roses’ 2nd London show at the O2 Arena. I really had to keep my professional hat on as I was a diehard G’n’R (original line-up) fan in my early teens.
Arriving on the Jubilee Line I discover notices of warning to attendees of the night’s show that Guns ‘n’ Roses are notorious for running over time for many years and with that the notice of the last tubes running to get home – meaning fans would actually miss over half an hour of the set to get their transport. Yikes!
I called my contact who met me and my lighting gear at the entrance and escorted me to the backstage area and we discussed the shoot which would happen after sound check. Timing being key here, I had a funny feeling things wouldn’t go according to plan. Haha. Sound check was then cancelled as they already had the levels set from the previous night at the same venue. The shoot would be later. Much later than originally planned. 3 hours later in fact.
The crew however were amazing to me, they gave me catering and made sure I was OK giving me regular updates on the band’s progress to the venue. Sebastian Bach was support and he wandered past a couple of times and said “Hey” (probably wondering what I was waiting for); his leopard print wheeled luggage in tow – like he was guarding it with his life! Funny guy. I had a good laugh also with the O2 security guys, especially about the big pot of ear plugs with this random sign on –
Richard finally walked in – very apologetic – with his most amazing Gibson guitar. It had a Bigsby too which made me happy. I love talking guitars, I’m a little bit of a closet geek actually – so immediately we hit it off. He was feeling a little worse for wear from partying the previous night – not even being able to keep water down. Axl’s advice to him was simply “you know tonight’s gonna hurt don’t you”. Richard was extremely professional despite feeling a little delicate. He wanted me to shoot him live too which wasn’t the original plan as Axl has strict rules that only his 2 Official photographers shoot their headline shows. They gave me access to the pit along with a security guy that made sure I didn’t take any pictures of Axl. Richard looked out for me knowing this and stayed right in front of me for the first 3 songs pulling various shapes for me to get some good shots.
I was offered to watch the rest of the show from side stage, which was SUCH a tempting offer but had to get home for some deadlines. The sound was immense and what I saw of the show was incredible. The wait was definitely worth it, and proof that being patient has its rewards.