|Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Nashville Rooms, London © David Corio|
By David Corio
The Nashville Room was a big grotty venue on the corner of Cromwell Road and North End Row in West Kensington. It was a music mecca in the 1970s where many bands including the Sex Pistols, The Police, U2 and Joy Division got some of their first shows. This was an early gig for The Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde was already making a name for herself as she was close to several hip music journalists. I hadn’t been commissioned but was curious about the band as they were generating so much buzz. As with many of the shows here it was packed and the heat was almost unbearable. It was best to arrive early, particularly on a cold night as it could take ages for the camera lenses to warm up and lose their condensation. There is nothing more frustrating than being at a show and only being able to get soft focus photos.
As usual the small stage lights weren't very bright so I uprated my Tri-X film to 1600ASA to avoid camera shake and blur. It was virtually impossible to squeeze to the front of the tiny stage and with so many heads in the way the only alternative was to climb onto a table and balance on it to get a better vantage point. It gave me a clear view before being pushed off after about ten minutes but I managed to shoot half a roll of film - quite a luxury.
By this stage the music scene was being labeled 'post punk' and it was easier to take photos during this time than it was during punk's heyday a year or so earlier when the audience would be pogo dancing and spitting at the stage. Invariably being at the front photographers would come out the worse for wear. That is part of the punk scene I don't miss at all!