A DISTURBING vision of the future lay at the core of the stage set by Prodigy, whose lighting and set designer Tim Fawkes created four hexagonal retro-style search light features as the visual core of the production.
He worked with Blackburn-based production providers HSL to create the units, designing them in WYSIWYG before settling on a housing which contained seven Claypaky Sharpies, a Martin Atomic LED, two Philips Nitro 510C strobes and eight individual PAR 36 ACLs. The shells were outlined with LED tape so they glowed in the shadows and designed to be tourable, each weighing under 300kgs.
“The underlying idea was to create a scene of dystopia on stage,” says Fawkes. “The band are passionate about lighting and it is an essential element helping them feed the intense rapport between stage and fans. A typical Prodigy lightshow involves layers of visual effects and for this one I alternated between beams, strobes and Moles/blinders, flipping between tungsten and LED.”
The show, which toured venues including Brixton’s O2 Academy (cap.4,900), The Doncaster Dome (2,100) and Plymouth Pavilions (2,500), saw the search light assemblies positioned two on risers towards the back of the stage, with two on the floor in front. Three scenic surveillance camera masts also dominated the stage, while truss towers carried Vari-Lite VL4000 wash beams, Atomic LEDs and Robe PATT2013s.
“Fans are expecting to come in and tear the place up,” says Fawkes. “Capturing that whole riot vibe is essential to delivering a successful show.”
WITH THE audience filling three quarters of the circular Royal Albert Hall (cap. 5,300) in London, for Imelda May’s concert featuring guests Ronnie Wood and Bob Geldof, the audio system needed to cover a 270 degree angle, with only the choir stalls at the back of the venue remaining unused.
Audio supplier Capital Sound completely redesigned its trussing system to improve PA control, load-in and coverage for the show, according to the company’s director Paul Timmins, allowing a new approach to delivering the bass sounds.
“We were conscious that our [trussing] system design hadn’t changed in a while, and during that time loudspeakers have become much lighter,” says Timmins. “We needed to design a universal rigging package that would be easier to load.”
The main and side PA hangs were flown from single mother trusses, and picked up on two points via house motors. Capital then deployed two motors per hang, giving them full independent control.
“We not only get much more accurate focusing using these two points, but it means that neither the main or side hangs are moving around,” says Timmins.
The PA comprised 12 flown MLA elements per side, supported by 11 MLA Compact on each flank for outfills. The central hang featured four MLX subs, with one reversed while, at ground level, three more MLX were recessed under the stage, with one reversed.
“We haven’t always flown subs before, but for a circular room, it is better in terms of time alignment,” says Timmins. “The icing on the cake is our ability to fit the PA into a 25-tonne truck rather than an artic.”
PRODUCTION DESIGNER Rob Sinclair worked to a quirky industrial brief for synth duo Hurts, who played shows at Brixton’s O2 Academy (cap. 4,900), and Manchester’s O2 Apollo (3,500) as part of their Desire tour.
Sinclair also insisted that no strobes or blinders be used in the light show, presenting lighting director and operator Matt Arthur with the challenge of achieving those effects in different ways.
The set was based around four “concrete” pillars, or stalagmites measuring 12 to 16ft high and 20” in diameter, offset at different angles and rotations. The team invited West London-based Colour Sound Experiment to provide a “practical and compact” lighting rig, complete with some visual surprises throughout the set.
Effects included a chandelier made of 36 Martin Sceptron LED battens in three concentric rings, an upstage truss concealing 20 1K fresnels rigged on vertical pipes and six Robe BMFL spots for front projection and downstage washes.
“Colour Sound ensured we received exactly the rig we wanted and the gear came out of the warehouse meticulously prepped,” says Arthur.
SWITCHING BETWEEN their acoustic or “Aquostic” concerts to the electric Plugged In – Live and Rockin’ tour, Status Quo required lighting capable of both dynamism and subtlety in a single touring set up.
Lighting designer Ewan Cameron says he chose a range of fixtures, supplied by event production specialist Hawthorn Lighting, for their flexibility, for shows including London’s Eventim Apollo (cap. 5,000), Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s City Hall (2,100) and Cardiff’s St David’s Hall (2,000).
“I needed a range of units that could provide the punch required for a classic high energy rock and roll show but could then be re-tasked to fit in with the subtlety and gentler pace of the acoustic show,” says Cameron.
Among the lights were Martin MAC Viper Profiles, Aleda BEYE K10 and K20s, Mac Aura XBs and Ayrton MagicBlade FXs.
“The Ayrton Blades are a great example,” Cameron says. “For the acoustic show, I needed a fixture that would provide an even wash across the grey velvet backdrop to give bold stripes of vibrant colours. They can be rigged differently for the electric shows to become a punchy audience blinder and effects unit providing a wide range of different effects.”
THE EVENT Production Show (EPS), the event trade exhibition at Olympia, London, later this month, is considering a range of venue and format options for its 2019 event based on what it already believes is the success of this year’s event.
The exhibition showcases entertainment technology in all sectors of the festival and concert touring industries, from staging, screens and audio to marketing technology and ticketing. Significant live music exhibitors this year include Star Events and GL Events, while speakers include John Giddings of Isle of Wight Festival (cap. 47,000) and Stuart Galbraith of promoter Kilimanjaro.
“We had over 5,000 visitors last year and could reach 6,000 this year,” says event director Duncan Siegle of organiser Mash Media. “We expect to sell out at 190 stands. This reflects the growing importance of events not just for businesses but for consumers, with over 700 festivals in the UK. There are events every weekend and the season is far beyond the end of September.”
The show runs simultaneously with Mash’s conference event, International Confex (8,000 visitors in 2017).
Siegle says traditional services including theming and bars are buoyant as organisers seek to make their events more individual, while Wi-Fi and ticketing businesses are doing well, expanding their offering beyond traditional roles.
“The show has stepped up to the extent that we’re discussing whether, in 2019, it will become stand alone, whether we do it earlier in year and, possibly, change venue as we’re ‘maxed out’ at Olympia,” he says. EPS runs from 28 February-1 March.