Well … in reality …. It wasn’t quite that many ….. BUT leading Blackburn, UK based lighting and visuals rental specialists HSL did indeed supply lighting equipment and crew to Cheryl Cole’s first solo ‘A Million Lights’ arena tour, once again working for technical producers Production North.
The lighting design by Peter Barnes, directed / operated out on the road by Neil Trenell of Fix8, proved that imaginative and intelligent use of lighting and effects can bring serious layers of magic to a high-impact show.
The tour was project managed for HSL by Mike Oates who comments, “Production North under the technical direction of Iain Whitehead co-ordinated another superb looking and highly entertaining show, and we were really pleased to be involved”.
Barnes and Trenell worked closely with creative directors Fatima Robinson and Beth Honan, who commissioned the set design from Bruce Rogers. They also initiated the video and visuals concepts, bringing a lively mix of footage to the picture, played back across an upstage pyramid shaped set clad with LED panels and a set of stairs immediately in front of it.
The lighting which matched and contrasted this as Cheryl’s fast paced, slickly choreographed show unfolded was based around three trusses. The front one was split into two sections to maximise coverage of a catwalk extending from the middle of the stage out into the audience.
The back truss was rigged with 14 Clay Paky Sharpies on drop-bars, emulating the shape of the LED screen plus eight Martin MAC 2K XB Washes and ten Martin Atomic strobes.
The mid truss was 60 ft wide and contained five MAC 2K XB Washes and six MAC3Ks, while the front truss had 16 MAC 2K XB Washes and six MAC 3 Profiles in total.
On the floor were ten Sharpies stationed on the stairs which mimicked the pyramid shape of the main upstage LED screen.
Above the B-Stage just in front of the FOH mixer position, a box truss was flown to provide positions for ten Sharpies and ten MAC 2K XB Washes.
HSL supplied two Robert Juliat Lancelot FOH follow spots, and Trenell operated the show using two grandMA Lites and two NPUs, with two Green Hippo HD i7 media servers supplied by Fix8. These stored and ran all the show’s video playback, triggered from the grandMA2.
The general aesthetic was simple, strong and dynamic, reflecting the more urban direction of Cheryl’s recent music and live performances – which is a great hit with her fans.
All the lighting fixtures were worked hard and in a truly multi-purpose capacity. Clever programming - completed during five intensive days and nights at Elstree Studios - combined with eye-catching video gave the hi-energy show a big, bold, bright performance context.
Barnes and Trenell made much use of the frost filter on the Sharpies which diffuses the output very nicely so they can double as highly effective washes.
Trenell worked alongside an HSL crew of three – Johnny Harper, Jon Trincas and Chris Roper -who he comments were “Fantastic – great fun, hard workers, very dedicated - and we made an excellent team”.
He adds, “As always, working with HSL was a complete pleasure, everything was spot-on … and Mike Oates is awesome!”
IMAG video was directed by Ruary MacPhie with the camera package, PPU and side screen projection system delivered by XL Video, the LED screens sourced from VER and audio from Wigwam.