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Greek Ampitheatre, Italy – Matthew Ashton, 2002

19 March 2009

Jim Kerr, the lead singer of Simple Minds had moved to live in Taormina, a small town in Sicily, Italy. With his wealth he could live anywhere and I questioned him on his choice of home. Being typical Jim, he replied, “Come and discover for yourself”, and so being typical me, I did.

Simple Minds originated from Toryglen in Glasgow and I was intrigued to know why he chose this, to me, unheard of paradise.

The band announced a new tour and I had never heard them speak with such enthusiasm about playing a venue; it was to be in a mystical ancient amphitheatre in front of Mount Etna, Taormina, where Jim Kerr now lives.

The concert was totally different to being in a modern area. Out in the open, the always-colourful multimillion-pound lighting rig lit up the ancient rocks and with the volcano in the background it was a very special place.

I have many eye-catching images of Simple Minds playing in this amazing environment but I like this image in particular as it could have been taken anywhere! Photographing on tour, I have fought long and hard to get certain pictures. One Simple Minds image took me 14 concerts to perfect. Other images I have taken have become iconic images within the band’s visual history but this one is my favorite.

Whilst at college and wanting to work in TV, Matthew Ashton started taking pictures of Shrewsbury Town FC after refusing to do a project on flowers due to suffering from hay fever. Within months, he was doing more freelance football than studying for A levels and after leaving college, gained a distinction in photojournalism at Sheffield NCTJ. Matthew became a staff photographer for the Shropshire Star in his home county and stayed there for 5 years. Following his favorite rock group Simple Minds around Europe as a fan evolved into taking pictures for them. Combining traveling with a passion for football, he started covering European football in between shooting Simple Minds concerts.

In 1990 Matthew Ashton joined EMPICS and worked extensively for the UEFA Champions League and a little for FIFA. He traveled the world photographing football and cricket and for holidays jumped in the car and drove to Europe to carry on following Simple Minds. All this came to an abrupt end when the Press Association purchased EMPICS and he decided it was best to move on.

He returned to freelancing again before the FIFA World Cup 2006 and established AMA Sports Photo Agency. In 2008, he won Best Illustrated Title in the 2008 British Sports Books Awards for his self-published and self-designed book entitled “Goodbye Gay Meadow”.

Matthew mainly covers domestic and European football with the odd trip further a field. He is known not only for stock and action football photography but also for producing off beat reportage football. Clients include national and international newspapers.

Photographer since 1988, EPUK member since 2006.

See more work by Matthew Ashton

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