Simon Campbell Album Launch – Thirty Six

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

Simon Campbell launches his debut solo album ‘Thirty Six’ with his band The Very Very Bad Men, at the Peel Centenary Centre. Supported by Christy DeHaven. 

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As Christy DeHaven and her partner Dave Armstrong walked on stage. It looked like Christy was going to sing and swap between acoustic and electric guitar, while Dave backed her up on bass. But it was quite a big venue packed with a crowd waiting to rock out to raucous rock god Simon Campbell, so how was a duo going to compete?

Well if there are only two of you and you want to build up a bigger sound, you take advantage of modern technology and use a loop station. Christy quickly laid down a beat and built up layers during the intro to the song, and then before you knew it the whole venue was reverberating with the complete sound you would expect from a full band.

I’ve seen people use loop stations before so the initial novelty has worn off for me. Some people make using them too obvious it distracts from the song. Or it can end up with too many layers making it too busy and noisy. Christy managed to make it look seamless and as if it was just the intro to the song. From my position on the stairs I heard audience members discussing the wonders of modern technology.

Christy’s own songs were really nice and the way she built up layers of backing vocals worked really well and sounded fantastic. Christy did mostly her own songs but the cover I remember her doing she really made it her own.

Christy is due to release her first album, if you can’t wait for it. She has been posting some of the songs on her soundcloud page. 

Christy DeHaven (Adrian Cowin) 

Dave Armstrong (Adrian Cowin) 

During the interval I’d been asked to have a go at being paparazzi and snap some photos of local celebrities. I’m not sure who anyone is except for people who are in bands so I went around photographing them, possibly missing any people who might actually be famous for anything other than being a musician. I apologise to them for ignoring them. I’ve not put the photos in my gallery as I’m not really a paparazzi, so will leave them for Simon to expose if he wants to use them.

After the interval celebrities and unknowns shuffled back to their seats, ready for the main event. Simon and his band The Very Very Bad men took to the stage. Simon warned those of faint disposition to leave or move to the back, which was funny as the person he mentioned did actually move to the back due to the volume!

Simon’s experience from his previous music career certainly showed as he made playing guitar, singing and jumping around like a mad man look like he’d done it a few times before.

The sound quality was immense, if a little loud, demonstrating that Simon’s search for the perfect tone is paying off. The custom guitars and gear he had on stage looked and sounded impressive. It’s also the first time I’ve seen someone with a guitar technician at The Peel Centenary Centre.

The set started with just five people on stage, but as it went on those five were joined by backing singers and brass section, swelling the number to a nine piece band.

While recording the album Simon got some fantastic session musicians to work with him, some of whom have become members’ of his band. The line up is UK Rob Livsey (guitar), Kevin Whitehead (drums), Christian Madden (keyboards), Josef Ward (trumpet), Nicky Madden (saxophone), The Delta Sisters, Jacqueline Reid Gilbert and Yvonne Shelton (backing vocals) and from the Isle of Man Steve Rowe (bass)

Although some members had done a few warm up gigs, the album launch was the first time the full band had all played together properly. If you didn’t know this you wouldn’t have been able to tell as they played brilliantly together.

On the Island people generally think of Simon as a Bluesman, but his music career has included genres such as punk, hard rock, R n’ B, and even Euro-Pop. The songs on his new album Thirty Six reflect this. They are an eclectic mix of styles, a musical journey though the thirty six years that Simon has been playing guitar.

The songs were great and the banter between band members was entertaining.

Simon’s energy on stage showed no sign of slowing down, he was jumping around like a mad thing even during the encore when Simon tripped on a cable or a stool and nearly fell head first off the stage. Although it would have been a Rock n’ Roll way to go, luckily he regained his balance and kicked the stool in defiance.

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

 Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

Steve Rowe (Adrian Cowin) 

Christian Madden (Adrian Cowin) 

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

Rob Livesey (Adrian Cowin) 

Kevin Whitehead (Adrian Cowin) 

Josef Ward (Adrian Cowin) 

Nicky Madden (Adrian Cowin) 

The Delta Sisters (Adrian Cowin) 

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

Simon Campbell (Adrian Cowin) 

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Photographers Notes: 

I knew coming in to this gig that the main issue I was going to face was trying to capture Simon jumping around the stage. So knew I would have to use a fast enough shutter speed to avoid movement blur. Most artists at the PCC stand pretty still, so 1/80th at f3.5 is usually fine when using my 24-70mm lens. When I heard ELS were coming to do the lighting I was hopeful that the lighting would be brighter than it normally is at this venue, but it was just the same, so I had to use 1/160th at f3.2 at ISO 800.

The other concern was trying to stay out of the way of the video cameras, hopefully I didn’t get in the way too much. This was also the main reason there aren’t really any photos of Christian Madden, he was hidden behind two huge wooden Hammond Organs. If the video cameras weren’t there I would have stood up in the gap to get a few shots but I didn’t want to ruin the video footage.

I feel the stage would have looked better if the black curtain was along the back of the stage rather than the white screen as the photos against the Simon Campbell banner look much better than against the white background.

End Notes:

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