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Posts tagged ‘Lights’

The Weeknd, live.

As I walked along the waterfront this evening, I came across this quite random chalking. “The Weeknd” looked great in yellow chalk, along the side of whatever wharf shed this was. It reminded me of Pitch, and though we’ve already mentioned how great Jessie Ware, SBTRKT and Gui Boratto were, we’ve neglected the Weeknd.

I first came across The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) when I heard a song on an NPR broadcast (Public Radio is a good thing!). The song, House of Balloons, included a sample from the Siouxsie and the Banshees song Happy House. The guitar was slowed right down, but I recognised it right away – a remnant from my mis-spent youth, appropriated from the mis-spent youth of the generation before me. I have, since then, become completely hooked.

I was lucky enough to download his three mixtapes before the release of the album Trilogy, which includes remastered versions of the tapes*. If you weren’t, it’s probably worth getting. Because it’s a m a z i n g.

Our friend and her sister are also huge fans, and at Pitch, we were all stupendously excited to see how the music we loved converted into a live experience.

We were not disappointed. It was not a flawless performance, and at times, the live sound struggled to capture the layered richness of his recordings, whilst the vocal performance was at times a little pitchy. But Tesfaye has awesome stage presence, and he had the enthusiastic Dutch crowd thrashing about in front of the stage in ecstatic rhythm.


Photos by CIA & PJD, Pitch Festival, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, July 2012.

* Mixtapes seems like an awful misnomer in the age of digital music.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

Geometry isn’t always an inspirational subject. I remember struggling with trigonometry, eventually reaching a point where I could reliably get the correct answer, with absolutely no understanding of the mechanics underpinning the calculations. Geometry in photography though, is a much more attractive proposition.

The geometrically complex concert hall in Reykjavík, Harpa, provides a good setting for studies of geometry. The building itself, constructed of steel-framed polygonic windows was (and is) controversial. A product of the Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson, as well as Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríið, construction began before the 2008 crash which triggered world-wide economic difficulties.

The expensive building was the subject of considerable debate in Iceland, before the Parliament eventually agreed to fully fund the construction of the building. I’ve been told there was some discussion that the foundations of the building should be left unfinished, to remind Icelanders of their economic folly, and as a tribute to hubris. We can, should, and must be grateful that things turned out differently, and that we have instead a beautiful, striking building which could be thought of as a Sydney Opera House (another exercise in geometry, budget overruns, and for which we can now all be grateful) of the North.

The interaction between the mirrored ceiling, the lights — which were designed to evoke the Aurora Borealis, and the optical-illusory nature of the various internal levels are astonishing. It is hard to imagine that the designers knew exactly what effect their design would have, but the building stands, gorgeously, as testament to geometry and architecture.


Photos by PJD, on a cold evening in early September, 2012.

Weekly Photo Challenged?

Luxembourg by night

A stroll around Luxembourg City by night is not to be missed – we learnt this on the way home from dinner one night as the photos below attest to. Not only are the buildings stunning in the way they are lit up, but the Petrusse Valley which cuts through the centre of the city makes for an incredibly dramatic night-time scene.


Photos by PJD and CIA, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, Easter 2012.

Anticipation @pitch

We must be brutally honest, and, without any disrespect to the other performers, on the second night of the Pitch Festival it was really all about Gui Boratto. Introduced to Gui Boratto by my Portuguese friend, CIA and I have since been fascinated by the elegance and simplicity of his electronic music. We were really looking forward to seeing him live, and more so given the extraordinary setting of the Gashouder.

As we waited for the Brazilian maestro, it became clearer that we were not the only ones excited.

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Paris at night

Long exposure, trailing lights

Experimenting with exposure times is something I had always thought of, but never tried. This was the best of many attempts in Paris, and I am optimistic I can only get better. You might be able to spot the Louvre, right down the end?


Photo by PJD, in the rain, high on M83.

Watching the thone: Kanye West and Jay-Z, Gelredome, Arnhem

It was a drizzly evening, and after checking into our rather underwhelming accommodation in Arnhem, we were nevertheless excited to see the duo that shifted Arena Rock to Arena Rap. On a shuttle from Arnhem Station to the Gelredome (het Grootste theatre van Nederland) we overheard a couple of New Yorkers* one of whom remarked “I wonder how Dutch people will feel Jay-Z?”. We wondered how many people going to the concert were actually Dutch. Certainly, it was fairly international – we heard various British accents, Americans, Australians and New Zealanders, some German, as well as plenty of Nederlanders. It would seem that Watch the Throne has fairly broad cross-cultural appeal. Which completely makes sense. When you listen to the album you can see two masters of their art selecting songs and instrumentation (not to mention politics and lyrics) that will hit the mark with as broad an audience as possible, whilst also maintaining a sense of authenticity – whatever that might mean to whoever is listening.

Anyway, apparently Jay-Z and Kanye’s entourage was sufficiently large that they needed their own parking area**, certainly, judging from the impressive rigging of speakers, lights and other paraphernalia, as well as the enormous stage, looming mixing desk and massive screens, we believed it was possible the parking sign referred to the entourage.

We timed our arrival well – we located the purveyors of Heineken (what else?), Vietnamese Food, overpriced t-shirts (€40 is too much for any t-shirt, especially one with only “NIP” in a gothic script). We drifted towards the stage, and then the lights cut out. If you had checked the European setlist on wikipedia before you went to the concert*** then you would not have been surprised at the thumping bass of H.A.M. The crowd promptly went one of two kinds of crazy: either they danced like their lives depended on it, or they took photos on their cameras or phones. We took a photo of people taking photos, because we like the “meta” thing…

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Live in Paris: M83 at L’Olympia

So last night we got back from five wonderful days in the city of lights, love and chic, Paris. We had a fantastic time, soaking up French and international culture, indulged in a healthy dose of culture courtesy of the gems offered by the Paris Museum Pass (sometimes it pays to take advantage of what’s on offer for your tourist needs!), and gave our feet an intense cobble-street workout as we criss-crossed from the 18th to the 1st and from the right to the left banks and back again. But all these things were a bonus; what really took us to Paris (well, at least, what was the original impetus for this trip!) was a great band that we both really like: M83.

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Never mind Le Louvre…

Here’s M83.


More on this event really soon (city is my church).


Photo by CIA, at Olympia Hall, Boulevard des Capucines.

Luminous Leiden

PJD mentioned in an earlier post the goodness of night photography – there is something satisfying about capturing night lights in a quality way, don’t you agree? Even if I do wonder about the somewhat irresponsible public use of all that electricity and its environmental impacts (for now though I will save those concerns for another post, but it is interesting to note that the Netherlands is in fact at the forefront of experimenting with so-called “intelligent streetlighting” focussed on energy efficiency). As they are on, I will admit that I do enjoy them, and I guess we are lucky to have the chance to capture these images a hop, skip and a jump away from our front door…

Above: Molen de Valk, meaning “The Falcon Mill” is the windmill that graces the canal closest to our house. It dates from 1743 and has seven floors inside.

Above: There’s plenty of  luminosity to be enjoyed on the Apothekersdijk, Leiden.


Both of the above images taken by me in Leiden, the Netherlands, 2012.

It’s not Brazil, but…

Brussels doesn’t have the most glamourous reputation. It’s probably all the bureaucrats (eurocrats?). I guess seats of government often fail to inspire many people. The Manneken Pis grabs a lot of headlines, but we haven’t managed to search it out yet. De Grote Markt (La Grand Place) is more our scene. But we found at night time, in the right places, Brussels could really come alive. Amongst other things from other places, we liked the Caipirinhas from Mappa Mundo. And, though the drink sometimes is the focus of things, sometimes everything else can get blurry…


No kidding…


Worth it though. And walking back to the hotel through the “Grand Place” (a UNESCO world heritage site) was pretty amazing. They sure know how to light things up in Belgium.Image


PJD engineered the first two pictures in Mappa Mundo, whilst drinking; the final picture was carefully executed by CIA on the way home, whilst discussing the merits of night time photography.

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