ADLIB's supplied lighting equipment and crew for lighting designer Ali Pike on the latest UK leg of the Bat For Lashes "Two Suns" 2009 world tour, which has been ongoing most of the year following the release of Natasha Khan's acclaimed second album.
Pike has been working with the highly talented and dynamic alternative rock musician and singer/songwriter all year. ADLIB lighting has also been supplying various 'specials' packages for other sections of the tour, but for this one, it all stepped up a level on the production front, with a complete redesign of the show including a new set, look and feel.
This permutation of the design started with meetings between Pike and Natasha Khan who also has a visual arts background and strong ideas of her own. Also, after playing a couple of shows - in Chicago and London - that were memorable for extreme meteorology - they came up with the concept of creating an intensely atmospheric stage ambience based around different weather conditions.
The conventional way to do this would have been using video projection, but this time around, the budget didn't quite stretch, so Pike decided to create the desired result using some inventive, theatrical, old-skool lighting and effects - a challenge that she relished and approached with much enthusiasm.
The project was managed for ADLIB by John Hughes. "ADLIB were great in helping customise certain fixtures like the animation wheels and special gobos, which were put into in the MAC 700s," says Pike. These helped produce elements like sunsets, stormy skies, etc.
The backdrop was a printed photo montage of a tornado against a big, angry, grey stormy sky, merged with a separate image of a car on the road - emphasising the power and strength of the weather and natural elements. With the application of some clever lighting and a bit of imagination, its visual appearance could be transformed into many different locations and weathers.
They toured a front and back truss - using Martin Professional MAC 700 moving lights as the main fixtures. On the back truss were 6 x MAC 700 Profiles and 4 Washes, with 6 Source Four Zooms to provide individual white light 'practicals' for the band positions so they weren't left in the dark. Two MAC 700 Washes were rigged on the front truss along with 4 Source Four profiles.
On the floor were six MAC 700 Profiles including 2 positioned on the side fills - always handy for mid level side stage beams, with another 4 x Washes upstage of the backline to up-light the band or the backdrop.
Four PixelLine LED battens were put behind each band member, pointing forward and providing bold bands of colour coming up from the floor, with two Atomic strobes and colour changers sitting at the upstage corners.
Six bespoke Perspex topped light boxes printed with desert and Joshua tree images sourced by Khan were adapted by ADLIB so they could be internally lit with JTE Micro-E LED fixtures.
Pike integrated 8 Beadlight Super Tubes into the design to add some classy shimmer and glitter into the visual picture. Intended as an architectural fixture, these were customised, cabled, clamped and made tourable by the ADLIB team in their Liverpool workshop. These are video activated and were fed by one of Beadlight's proprietary media servers, for which Pike chose content based on cloud formations, skies and other natural and elemental forces.
The media server was triggered from the Avolites Pearl Expert console that she used to run all the show lighting.
Other spangly bits included festoons draped along the back truss and fairy lights, which were randomly slung around the keyboards, drums and centre vocal mic.
ADLIB's technician Neil Holloway worked alongside Pike on the tour, and she comments that he was "Amazing!" adding, "As always the standard and level of service from ADLIB has been excellent - nothing is ever too much trouble - and it's been great working with them again".