Arctic Monkeys at Maida Vale
On the 8th of June Arctic Monkeys played a live concert at London’s iconic Maida Vale Studios. The full set of tracks performed, old and new, can now be viewed on BBC iplayer. The concert is as much a visual as an aural experience due to the unique filming equipment and techniques that were used to create the vintage production.
Sepia Tone Seventies
The rock band from Sheffield have recently released their sixth album entitled “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino”, taking influence from the 1970’s when artists shifted their attention from hit singles to the more artistic potential of the album.
Aimimage supplied three Sony F55 cameras to the shoot which were used in 16mm mode in combination with stylised lighting. The image is frequently framed by the three Ikegami HK-323 3-tube colour cameras from the 1980’s, one of which can be seen in the foreground above. This combination resulted in the grainy, retro, sepia tone image that characterises both the new album and this unique concert.
Annie Mac introduced the performance on her radio show by saying it “reaked of the 70s”, a fitting tribute to an extremely slick production that in many ways resembles a 1970’s episode of Top of the Pops. Alex Turner’s high-wasted trousers, rose-tinted glasses and general performance compliment his surroundings in such a way that you find your eyes attached to the panning cameras that shift from television screen to sound technician to bassist but always back to Turner.
Maida Vale on the Brink
The Arctic Monkeys concert took place a matter of days after it was announced that the BBC will be parting ways with the Maida Vale studios, leaving more than 80 years of musical history behind.
In a letter to staff, Tony Hall stated, “I understand how much our musical heritage at Maida Vale means to us, to artists and to audiences, we haven’t taken this decision lightly. . . But we’re determined to ensure that live music remains at the heart of the BBC”.
In this he is referring to the new facilities in the Olympic Park that will supposedly be functional by 2022. The move revolves around progress and modernisation but it has been met with a barrage of opposition. A range of musicians have called for the decision to be overturned and the hashtag #BBCSaveMaidaVale has gained some attention, with some claiming that the property is in great condition and being sold off for estate reasons only.
Arctic Monkeys Find Progress in the Past
Whilst the need for more space may be a realistic factor, it would be a massive shame for such a historical studio to fall victim to what has been labelled as ‘progress’. It is certainly a coincidence that this retro Arctic Monkeys concert was filmed in the aftermath of the BBC’s announcement but it acts as a fitting tribute nonetheless. The vintage Ikegami cameras that frequented the Maida Vale studios fifty years ago create an effect that helps remind us that the past can in fact be timeless.
The 70’s themed camerawork and lighting has created a buzz around this live show, entertaining a contemporary audience and proving that the rose-tinted sepia-toned grainy warmth of the past still has a place and should not be discarded so easily. Whilst the music and film industries modernise, there must remain room for the classical simplicity and rawness of old that still holds such strong influence in contemporary visual and aural arts.