The stories behind classic shots of Matt Pike, Tony Iommi and Idles. With Photographer, Tim Bugbee

I never really did much in the way of photography until I moved to Ireland for my day job, in 2003-4 and bought a Canon G2 to document some of my time and travels over there. It set the hook in pretty deep, and when I returned I got a Rebel XT for a Christmas gift at the end of 2005. Digital photography allowed me to be completely self-taught, as you get instant feedback on how the settings affect your image, and off I went. I used to do some writing for a few small fanzines back in the ’90s and used some of those nascent connections to get my concert photography (career/hobby/timesink/whatever) off the ground, in 2006.  Obviously l still enjoy it because 13 years later, I’m still at it, both writing about and capturing images of live music.

Matt Pike, Sleep – Backstage at Roadburn, Tilburg NL, April 14, 2012

In 2012 I had a chance to shoot my first overseas music festival. Roadburn focuses mainly on metal, with some elements of psychedelic rock but is rightly revered as one of the premier festivals in any genre. Sleep toured Europe for the first time since 1993 and their headline set at Roadburn was highly anticipated by the legions of fans (nay, pilgrims) who head to Tilburg year in and year out. In a weird twist of fate, I got to know the band via post-reunion recruited drummer Jason Roeder (also of Neurosis) or an online community revolving around mountain biking. Yeah, sometimes life is strange. Anyway, this was my first time to really hang out with the band and the entire experience ranks as one of my favorites ever. I took a few shots backstage after their set and this one of Pike always resonates with me. It is also one of the few photos I’ve got printed and framed for myself; I ran a fundraiser to help Matt with medical costs and he personalized a copy of this for me. I’ll be photographing his wedding this weekend, at Psycho Las Vegas. What was that I said about life and strange twists?

Lee Kiernan, Idles – Iveagh Gardens, Dublin Ireland, July 11, 2019

I’ve shot thousands of shows so narrowing it down to three was pretty difficult (and it also reminded me that my portfolio is woefully out of date) so here is a fairly recent photo. I do a lot of traveling to Ireland for my day job, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some trips coincide with some great gigs, including this Idles show at a city park on an impossibly gorgeous Irish evening.  I missed their show last year at Brighton Music Hall but enough friends of mine have been talking about the energy and positivism that they bring to the stage, and I got a pretty heavy dose of that. It helped shooting during daylight, because when musicians decide to head into the crowd at an indoor venue, sometimes the lighting is pitiful at best. I had the good timing of seeing Kiernan jump from the PA stack near the stage and onto the barricade and hustled over to get a good angle, capturing both himself and the crowd. Pretty excited for their show at Royale later this year.

Tony Iommi, Heaven & Hell – Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, Aug 28, 2009

I was really excited to get to shoot this show, and it turned out to be the second to last performance that Ronnie James Dio ever did (after the tour ended the next day in New Jersey, he would find out a few months later that he had stomach cancer and died in May of 2010). Even if you aren’t a metal fan, you gotta admit that Black Sabbath was one of the most influential bands ever to plug in, and seeing Tony Iommi a few feet away through my viewfinder was pretty thrilling. One of the challenges of concert photography is that you are never in control of what’s unfolding in front of you; the motion and placement of the performers, the intensity and color of the stage lighting, even the position you’re shooting from. So, you have to adapt as quickly as you can, and I got lucky here when I had plenty of white light to stop down and get a close up, detailed shot of Iommi’s iconic Gibson SG, with the custom frets and Sabbath picks lodged under his pick guard. The timing was right so I could also get both of his hands in the image, and you can clearly see his prosthetic fingertips that he’s been using for decades after an industrial workplace accident severed two tips off. This is one of the few images of my own that I have printed and framed, hanging in my home.

~Tim Bugbee
Cambridge, MA

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