Nowadays, the usual reaction on spotting a club or gig photographer point their lens in my direction is to run and hide for fear of future allegations. As well as the shame of being caught au-naturel, full gig-face on, with stars in my eyes and the glow that only comes after four hours of solid bouncing. However the new collection of pics from renowned snapper Gregory Nolan make you want to turn back time and be one of those captured faces. The sheer joy, exuberance, and the frisson of ‘noughtiness’ shines out of each of the photographs documenting London’s music scene in the years after we all met up in the year 2000.
Nolan’s book ‘This Was Our Scene’ and accompanying exhibition collate the very best shots from the hustle and bustle of that new wave of indie. This wasn’t the raw, unwashed, slightly misshapen indie as I knew it from the early nineties, but a more wholesome, accessible and widespread version. There was a tinge of innocence and self-deprecation in both the purveyors and the recipients of music by such names as The Kooks, Bastille, Mumford & Sons, and Razorlight, in a time before smart-phones were brandished by 99% of gig-goers and we all became accustomed to minimising real-life experiences to the size of a handheld device.
This was a time of less self-conscious and more straightforward nights out, without that worry the next morning of who’d tagged who into incriminating shots on social media, whose friend of a friend of a long lost uncle had taken a screen-shot, or who’d nearly lost their job because they had called in sick the morning after but the evidence was online that they’d been out partying til 4am. Thankfully Nolan was there, often up to six nights a week, to create a pictorial record of those simpler times. Nolan had the ability to capture these moments like no-one else, and his candid shots portray the sheer, honest delight of music uniting groups of strangers.
As Frank Turner elaborates, “Greg was absolutely integral to the indie scene in London in its halcyon days, where I started out as a musician and met most of my closest friends. The shots in the show capture the spirit and energy of that unique moment in history perfectly; looking through them took me back there vividly”.
This Was Our Scene can be seen from now until the end of the month at The Guitarwrist, 2 Newburgh Street, Carnaby. www.thiswasourscene.com
Words: Mary Long
Photos: Gregory Nolan
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