When there's trust between a musician and a photographer, great things can happen. So it proves with Sharon Latham and Noel Gallagher. The photographer's new online exhibition Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: A New World Blazing offers an exclusive glimpse of life on the road and in the studio with the band. Take a look for yourself with the special preview tour above and Sharon's commentary below on six great shots from the exhibition.
You can also visit anewworldblazing.com to view the gallery in full and purchase prints.
Sharon Latham shot Oasis live at their legendary Maine Road shows but gradually built a strong relationship with the musician over her time as Senior Club Photographer for Manchester City Football Club.
When she told the songwriting icon she was moving on from the club to become an independent photographer, he asked what she was going to do. Sharon jokingly suggested she go on tour with Noel's band. He immediately accepted.
“Down the years I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best photographers in the world and I would put Sharon right up there," says Noel. "At its best a photograph should speak. What are the pictures saying? They are saying: We - NGHFB - have the best job in the world. To work, play, travel and party with these people is an absolute pleasure. I’m so happy that Big Shaz was there to capture these moments.”
A New World Blazing is full of intimate and stunning moments from five years of the High Flying Birds story – it also captures Noel with some of his key guitars. From the Gibson ES-355 with Bigsby that's become a mainstay, to the Nash and Fender offsets Noel was drawn to in the Who Built The Moon era.
Watch a special preview tour of A New World Blazing above with an interview about the exhibition between Sharon Latham and Edith Bowman. Read on for Sharon's commentary on six great shots from A New World Blazing.
Isle Of White live
Jazzmasters became a fixture in Noel's studio and live rigs for the 2017 Who Built The Moon album and tour. Here he's with his '62 reissue Fender Jazzmaster headlining the Isle OF Wight festival with the High Flying Birds in 2019.
Sharon: "Who doesn’t love a festival, and the atmosphere at this one was brilliant. Captured live right in the middle of his set, this colourful action shot show Noel in the moment wowing the crowd and enjoying the gig.
"I always try to get as many different angles as I can at a gig and this shot was taken right in the middle of crowd. After stumbling through rather a large throng of drunken ecstatic fans this shot was a good reward."
Masonic Temple, Detroit
Although he was synonymous with Gibson Les Pauls during Oasis's rise, semi-hollows have long been an integral part of Noel's playing life and remain so. He once described his vintage 1960 ES-355 as being "the basis for everything" and it's certainly looks kitted out for it with a Bigsby and six-position Varitone switch.
Sharon: "In 2018 I set off to the USA to cover Noel’s tour. I was following the band across the USA in an SUV as there wasn’t enough room for me on the tour buses, a complete adventure for me in my own right driving all over America.
"This shot was taken at the first gig of that tour in Detroit. I'd landed in Boston to pick up my vehicle only to be told I should upgrade my car as a snowstorm was coming. Boy oh boy am I glad I did, Detroit was covered in deep deep snow it was mental.
"I remember driving to the venue thinking I’m not going to make this I’m going to crash n' die before the first night. I didn’t, and this wonderful close-up shot was one of the pics from that memorable night."
Noel doesn't just play Fender offsets and he's been a fan of Bill Nash's guitars for a while – he told us in 2015 that a Nash S63 is "all over" second HFB album Chasing Yesterday. He owns around 20 Nash guitars now and via the US luthier he discovered the joys of offsets and here is what looks to be a JM63 in off-white/ cream vintage with red tortoiseshell pickguard and customised with a star sticker (he also has a JM63 in black with star sticker).
Sharon: "Having never been to Tokyo I wasn’t sure what to expect. The festival Noel and the band where playing was in a huge stadium, and I found it fascinating to see how organised and how polite and wonderful all the fans where. This image is basically three shots from the same position but taken at different times of the gig when the lights altered for the different songs.
"In my head I wanted to create an Andy Warhol style shot but instead of four I went with three. I love the fact the lighting at Noel's gig allows such a diverse creative aspect when you’re thinking of the final image. Working closely with all of Noel's team allows me to work out when and why the lights change and therefore lets me plan shots like this sometimes."
In the studio
We did say Noel likes Nash JM63s with bold custom stickers didn't we! This is one he's used in the studio as well onstage, and Sharon has the evidence to prove it…
Sharon: "Being allowed to capture someone creating is always a massive pleasure and I've been so lucky to be able to do this on a couple of occasions with Noel.
"This shot was taken at Rak Studios in London in 2017. It was a small space and trying to keep out of the way was quite difficult, I didn’t want to disturb his creative moments, I managed it though. This shot shows Noel totally in that moment of magic."
Live at the Ritz
It's the 355 again, and the importance of this guitar cannot be overstated; it's served The Chief well from Oasis to the HFB and it's still his favourite guitar. "I don’t play it so much nowadays," he admitted to Guitar.com in 2019, "because the music I’m writing is different and I’m going for a different sound. But if push came to shove, that guitar is priceless for the amount of tunes that I wrote on it.”
Sharon: "The Ritz in Manchester is one of this great cities’ classic venues. I can’t even begin to tell you how hot this gig was that summers day in a usually rainy Manchester. It was bizarrely about 29 degrees outside and was hitting about 35 with all those fans enjoying the gig inside.
"There isn’t a lot of room to move around at the front of the stage and I remember whilst trying to get this shot having to literally lie on the floor and push my back up against the barriers where the fans were. Whilst concentrating I felt what I thought was water dripping onto my head but realised it was sweat from the fans above me. I suppose it could have worse; it could have been so much worse. I think the shot is worth it."
Lucerna Palace, 2018
Sharon: "Taken from the stage at the end of this gig I love this shot. The venue in Prague was epic and I will always remember this venue because it's underground. Noel's amazing back crew had to lug everything down a zillion flights of stairs, it was so worth it though because it was like a secret amazing theatre hidden below ground.
"The atmosphere was amazing that night. Another reason for remembering this venue for me too was that during sound check one of the local venue crew knocked my camera off an amp box as I was trying to get backstage shots and trashed one of my canon lenses, so overall this picture has good and bad memories for me"
Visit anewworldblazing.com to view the gallery in full and purchase prints