Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace Tour, 2008

The first photo could be the best I've ever taken and I knew it the moment it happened. When I gave Dave the print he told me it was his favourite photo of himself because he looks exactly how he feels on stage, and it’s the way he wants the world to see him. I also love the guy in the You Suck shirt looking at his neighbour totally thinking you suck.

By this time, Foo Fighters were a full-on arena band. There was the main stage and a catwalk through the crowd leading to the acoustic stage in the middle of the arena.

FF were already huge, but this felt different. They opened with Let It Die, and Dave used every inch of the stage and catwalk, running wild, stoking the crowd in his role as a true frontman.

Here are some highlights from several shows I shot on that tour.

Leonard Cohen – June 7-8, 2008 at the Sony Centre in Toronto

Over two nights in 2008 I had the privilege of photographing this treasured artist for his tour book.

Song after song I marvelled at his legendary voice. What an awesome experience.

In between sets his manager brought me backstage to meet the man himself. Leonard looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said “Pleasure to meet you”. Then without saying another word, he pulled a bolo tie out of his jacket pocket, gently placed it in my hand and walked back on stage.

Smashing Pumpkins – November 4, 2008 at Massey Hall in Toronto

I think this was the first time I'd shot Smashing Pumpkins since Billy Corgan had long hair. It was at Massey Hall during their 20th anniversary / Zeitgeist tour.

Corgan's unmistakable look and unique wardrobe pieces were captivating and made for some fantastic photographs. His profile is recognizable even in silhouette (final photo).

The colours in the first photo are striking but I think the next ones are probably my favourites. The dramatic lighting and his mannerisms create a very dark, almost skeletal look. I also really like the one of Jimmy Chamberlain playing the marching drum.

Billy Talent – December, 2008 at Henson Studios in Los Angeles

The history of Henson Studios is fascinating. Charlie Chaplin founded the studios in 1917, and in 1966 it was purchased by A&M Records, then in 1999 it went to the Jim Henson Company (The Muppets). It’s also where every music superstar in America stood together to record We Are The World in 1985. It was kind of cool to stand in the same room over 30 years later.

You might be wondering why there are no photos of the Billy Talent recording their album. This was not by choice. The producer wasn’t a fan of having non-essential personnel around during the recording process. Which I totally get. Not many producers do.

But the band requested that I be there to take photos of them recording to put in the album art. The producer agreed to have me there for 3 days. So I flew from Toronto to Los Angeles.

What I didn't know until I got there is that he (purposely) scheduled my visit during 3 days where there was literally nothing going on besides Ian recording some guitar solos.

On the first day he lectured me in front of the band saying that having me there would make the guys nervous and affect their performance (even though it was the band’s idea).
He compared it to how a wildlife photographer changes the natural behaviour of animals just by being there. I’m pretty confident in my abilities to be invisible in these situations so I said “that's if they know you're there”, to which he replied “I know you're here.”

Again, I totally get it. But if he was that opposed to me being there he could have just said no instead of wasting everyone’s time. If Almost Live were still on TV this would have made the Lame List for sure.

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