The first time I witnessed the greatness of J. Cole was in 2011. Sideline Story was the tour and I made sure I got right to the front to secure a clear view of the man who I’d been listening to religiously for the past 2 years. Now, there were numerous highlights from that night which made me more alive than ever, however it was his display of immeasurable gratitude which captured my unyielding loyalty.
It was right at the end (after the encore) he decided to stay on stage and say goodbye to pretty much everyone, I repeat everyone, who had come out to see him. Whether you were sitting high up in the rafters or hugging the barriers an arms length away, there was a personal thankyou for your undying support. I filmed the majority of it on my cracked iPhone and journeyed home blown away not only by his performance but by the fact – he was a man of the people.
Below is easily my favourite photo of the night. Ignoring the fact it’s out of focus and over saturated, it shows the moment my young impressionable presence got the recognition I had craved.
Fast forward 4 years and our paths have now crossed 5 times, both in performance and social environments (hold tight Entourage). Our last encounter was the 14th June at the M.E.N arena, where to my surprise he performed his whole album – Forrest Hills Drive. The performance itself (despite a few long unnecessary introductory speeches) was as expected full of raw infectious energy, love for the fans, pure knowledge and great music. However on reflection there’s a part of me that’s genuinely gutted I’ll probably never hear the tracks such as Farewell, College Boy, Before I’m Gone, Show Me Something, Rise and Shine etc performed live again.
Nevertheless it was an unforgettable night thanks to the fact that my brother Dinny Fallon got them deep connections like roots.. (wait for it, wait for it) In securing an accidental photo pass through work, replacement camera through friends and pulling a few on the ball favours. He managed to get me in the lucrative position to ‘photograph the main act’ – none other than Jermaine Lamarr Cole!
On reflection it was a hilarious situation… To paint the picture, there I was with a £300 entry level Canon (which I had never used before) juxtaposed amongst official photographers with £9000 paparazzi lenses.
Positioned to the left in the gap between the front row and the stage, the lights dramatically fainted as I was trying to figure out the function of each button – but it was too late, the intro to FHD had begun..
A tale of 2 perspectives:
From the view of being on the job it was a lot harder than imagined. Standing directly in front of the speakers resulted in your heart getting a free massage both metaphorically and physically. As well as this, the continuous light changes became synonymous with setting changes and to top it off there is the skill of adapting to the artists frantic movement as he/she covers all areas of the stage.
In divergence – from a fan and photography enthusiasts perspective, I loved every. single. second of it. I found my eyes lit up through the view finder and a natural sway accompanied the occasional uncontrollable head bobbing when tracks such as Fire Squad and January 28th were played. Which of course didn’t help the photos as a few of them stripped the veneer of composed photographer and exposed that exuberant kid from 2011.
Nevertheless I acquired some crucial knowledge/experience and created some cool shots! Some were used to complete a great article co-written by Dinny himself for Nubi Magazine and as intended – The Mancunion which I urge you to check out!
Below are my favourites, enjoy!
check the birthdate… you aint the god.
Backup singers/performers are so underrated
my best shot of the night – a man of the people!
Love this shot. The positioning of the light resembles a halo, almost symbolic of his progression from his last album: Born Sinner.
Red man – Tonights the night.
lights, camera, action
If we understood economics, we’d know money’s nothing – think nothing of it, money is a means to get wealth, not the wealth itself..