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FANATICS by James Marcus Haney
Photography James Marcus Haney

This photobook captures the energy and ecstasy of music fans

From Glastonbury washouts to mega concerts in Taiwan, James Marcus Haney’s Fanatics collates photographs of music lovers and ravers from 35 different countries, spanning a decade

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, live music can often feel like a distant memory. Alternatively, it gives us something to look forward to when we all emerge from quarantine, bleary-eyed from consuming all of our media through a laptop screen – from gigs, to films, to Broadway theatreFanatics, the first photobook from photographer and filmmaker James Marcus Haney, gives us a chance to relive the live music experience in the meantime.

From 2010 to 2020 – and across 35 countries – Haney documented countless shows and festivals while touring with Elton John, Metallica, Maggie Rogers, The Strokes, and many more. “I gained incredible friends and had insane experiences,” Haney tells Dazed of the last decade. Besides concert-crashing for his 2014 documentary No Cameras Allowed, he remembers unwittingly dancing with Grace Jones at Elton John’s house party as a standout moment. “I didn't know who Grace Jones was at the time,” he admits, “and I sure as hell didn't know she was 65 years old!”

In fact, Elton John himself has provided the foreword to Fanatics. The likes of Chris Martin, Maggie Rogers, and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich have also contributed words about the relationship between musicians and their fans, who take centre stage in the book. 

“I’ve been drawn to photographing music fans for as long as I’ve been a fan of music myself,” Haney explains. “There’s something really unique about a crowd of strangers smashed together, singing and giving themselves to the moment and the music. None of these people would be this vulnerable and open and intimate anywhere else in public, but here in a crowd at a show they are dancing, singing, crying, lost in another world.”

Of course, the singularity of a crowd at a gig is only made more obvious by COVID-19, which has made most of this year’s shows and festivals, such as Glastonbury, impossible to run. “It’s definitely wild to look through these images and feel so removed now from the times when you could kiss a stranger in the middle of a sweaty crowd, yet that wasn't long ago at all,” he says. “That was just this year.”

“I personally get nostalgic looking at these photos, but also hopeful. It serves as a reminder of what we have to look forward to again. Except this time, it will be so much sweeter because we'll know how precious togetherness is.”

In the gallery below, Haney talks us through some highlights from the new photobook.

Fanatics is out now, via Stop + Fix.