Greetings everyone and welcome to this month’s “Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. This past week saw me return to Los Angeles for three very different events.
Janet Jackson “Number Ones: Up Close and Personal” Tour at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles – September 1, 2011
Last April shortly after covering Lady Ga Ga and Britney Spears Bay Area shows I applied for credentials for Janet Jackson’s show at the Bill Graham Auditorium. Unfortunately like many other concerts I’ve applied to in the past I never heard anything. The day following Janet’s two shows I got an email from her publicist apologizing for missplacing the request. At the time she told me that unfortunately Janet would not be back in the California area again for the tour. She did ask if I wanted to cover Vegas. Unfortunately it would have cost way too much money for my travel expenses. However a few month’s later I saw that Janet was performing at the Greek Theatre on September 1. It’s literally impossible to get credentialed for LA shows but hoping that the agent really felt like she owed me one. To my surprise a few days before the show she came through with a photo credential.
As I pulled into Griffith park I reflected on some found memories with bands like The Who, Bob Weir, Death Cab For Cutie and registering voters for Headcount. The Greek Theatre it is a 5,000 seat amphitheater in Griffith park. I always said it was like seeing a concert in your backyard. By far my favorite outdoor venue. Knowing this was my first professional concert photo assignment in LA, I expected to get my usual cold shoulder from the other photographers. The first photographers whom I saw were a team of paparazzi. in a black SUV’s similar to the cars celebrities are chauffeured to at events. Realizing they weren’t credentialed made it over to the press gate. While waiting for our escort I saw The Blind Side star Quentin Aaron. Already having a picture of him from a previous premiere, and not sure if I was allowed to shoot inside so I decided to skipped the photo op. I did run into and photographed Harry Shum J.R. from “Glee” ( the kid who doesn’t sing).
As We got inside we quickly found out our pit access turned into the left side of the stage 100 feet way from the stage. I don’t understand why touring mangers almost always put us by the soundboard or even behind. Only having limited equipment makes these shoots especially hard. The pictures mainly end up on websites because they are from too faraway for magazines. Luckily I brought a small step stool which I used and leaned on the wall to get shots over the 25 rows of fans in front of me.
The show was suppose to start at 8:15 but around 9:05 her brother Jermaine Jackson arrived to a thunderous applause from the audience. It’s at this point where I see Harry Shum J.R. from “Glee”. Finally about 9:15 the lights go out and we hear a several minutes of the “Scream” video, that she sang with her brother Michael. We were only permitted to shoot the first 2 songs which was about 6 minutes. As I quickly snapped away trying to make the best out of horrible placement during her first two songs, Pleasure Principle and Control. After being escorted out I ended up hanging outside and watching a few more songs on the screen outside the venue. The music was so loud that I even heard it walking to my car. This was my first time seeing her and I must admit I’m a rocker not much of an R & B fan. She did look and sound great. I would have loved to been a lot closer and be able to photograph another costume. But I was just grateful for being credentialed for such a limited covered event.
Joe Elliott and Rick Savage “Def Leppard: The Definitive Visual History” Book Signing at Book Soup in West Hollywood on September 5, 2011
This assignment unlike the last was actually with a group that had been one of my favorites back in the 80’s. My poor dad still talks about having to suffer through the Def Leppard & Queensryche show he took my sister and I to in 1987. After 30 years, the members of Def Leppard had a book coming out called “The Definitive Visual History”. For promotion they did a book signing in West Hollywood at the Book Soup. I had been trying to get credentials for the show in the Bay Area, but was told by the venue they could get in touch with the bands tour publicist. I was able to get in touch with the store who told me I could stay for some posed shots then I must leave. I arrived at the store to see a long line of very diverse fans. They were people of all colors and nationalities. A lot of parents and kids in Def Leppard memorabilia. I must say I never thought when seeing them in the 80’s that they would still be filling concert halls in 2011. A few minutes before the event started another photographer and I were escorted in. I was a little confused because they were other photographers outside and i was talking with a guy from TMZ minutes before. I walk into the back of the store. It’s a boutique kind of old fashion book shop. At the back register sitting were Joe and Rick from the band. We got some shots quickly but the band really didn’t seem in to it. Wondering why we were permitted to shoot. After a few minutes I thanked Joe and Rick for their time and the last 30 years. I asked about who their tour manager was because the Press person from the Shoreline Amphitheater couldn’t reach me. Very coldly Joe replied “We have our own Photographer”. Lets just say that Leppard won’t be on my list of coolest celebrities I’ve met.
Closer to Venus in Concert at the House of Blues in West Hollywood – September 7, 2011
My last event in LA was not supposed to be an official one. As many of you know I use to manage bands. Two of my former clients from the past have an exciting LA Indie music, Electronica music band. The band would be tested tonight. Due to a previous commitment schedule conflict the band was short keyboardist A.G. (Art Gutierrez). Instead of canceling the show (CTV) members Eddie O singer, Johnny Burke- keys, and Matrix on the Drums took to the stage at the House of Blues. The band played a 4 song set that included songs from the groups soon to be released new material. If you love 80’s music like DePeche Mode and bands like She Wants Revenge and Muse you must check out Closer to Venus. This will shortly be a band that will go a lot farther than the just the California State line.
After the set that included old favorites along with new songs Honesty & Loyalty, Memories & Fantasies, Destination You, Lust or Love. I joined the band upstairs for an after party at the V.I.P. Rooms at the House of Blues. I must say after being in several club venues this by far was the coolest dressing room V.I.P. area. My only problem was that it was dark. I basically was shooting into the blind and hoping for the best. As I got to the bar a saw at a table a familiar face. Johnny Venokur a.k.a. Johnny V from Vh1 Scott Baio 45 & Single. I have had the pleasure of photographing Johnny before. His amazing and likable personality shows up on his photos. He told me he has a lot of new and interesting things coming up. He and his friends ending up hanging out with the band and I at the after party. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. Too bad I was working and saw most the night through my lens. Still was another night not to forget on The Sunset Strip.