It’s an O2 weekend: Ne-Yo, Tulisa Contostavlos, Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, Tim McGraw and loads more.

18 Mar 2013

I’ve run riot at the O2 Arena for three days on the trot, shooting Ne-Yo and Tulisa on the Friday night followed by the inaugural Country 2 Country (C2C) music festival with both Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw headlining.

It’s been a VERY long, but VERY eventful and successful three days for Flex. Kicking off on Friday, I was issued with a pass by Mercury Records to shoot Ne-Yo his support, Tulisa at the O2 Arena. Having been granted pit access, it was great to go to town with creative angles and get right up close and personal. Delighted with the final results, capturing some really colourful shots of Ne-Yo, courtesy of an amazing production team. The obligatory three song rule was in place, but as most artists tend to do, they diversify their set list to give us a broad range of shots. Both Ne-Yo and Tulisa were in fine form and the O2 Arena’s restaurants and bars were rammed with fans pre-show.

On Saturday and Sunday, I made the journeys back and forth for two full days of shooting the Country 2 Country music festival thanks to 2country.net, brought over by the CMA in Nashville and MC’d by BBC Radio 2′s Bob Harris. It was a great opportunity to join other regular photographers in the media room at the O2 and spend some time getting to know my peers. On Saturday, we had a photo call and pre-show interviews in the media room with two country music legends, Tim McGraw and Vince Gill, alongside the ever-so popular Little Big Town and Sugarland’s Kristian Bush – all of whom were most welcoming to the paps in the room. Then onto the stage we went. Unfortunately for Little Big Town and Vince Gill we were relegated to the mixing desk, which made things a bit tricky, but which also held me personally in good stead as I worked on my adjustments in readiness for the following evening’s blockbuster Carrie Underwood. Tim McGraw was dynamic on stage – a proper cowboy with cowboy lyrics and a huge stage presence. We were so fortunate to be given pit access for Tim, which gave me the opportunity to come back with some amazing shots. A highly successful day on the whole.

The following day was the cream of the weekend. Pit access for the awesome country rocker Brantley Gilbert, followed by mixing desk access for the talented LeeAnn Rimes, where I was nearing the perfecting stage of manipulating the 500mm lens, and then up close and personal again with the charismatic and vocally brilliant Darius Rucker (a.k.a. Hootie). Then it came. Bob Harris introduced arguably the USA’s number one current female country singer – Carrie Underwood – and what a reception she got. Knowing in advance that this crowd would be on their feet from the get go, I opted to set myself behind the mixing desk, but raised up on a platform level with the videographers, so that I could shoot above the crowd. We only had two songs for Carrie, but I have to say, I was blown away by what I got. It was really nice to get compliments from fellow peers after the shoot as well. Needless to say I left the O2 with a big smile on my face.

A really long weekend of work, but thoroughly enjoyable. Big thanks again to Erica and Rob at 2country.net and Lauren at Mercury for slotting me in.

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