Willie Williams' Design for Darren Hayes
Australian singer Darren Hayes took his Time Machine tour on the road last fall to promote his most recent album, This Delicate Thing We Made, now that he has gone solo following his days with Savage Garden. “I designed the last Savage Garden tour,” says UK-based Willie Williams, who directed the tour as well as designed the sets, lighting, and projections. “Darren's solo shows are small but creative,” he says, noting that Hayes' influences are as far-flung as the UK theatre company, Complicite, and Depeche Mode.
One of the more unusual set pieces on this tour was a large origami-style bird. “The album is about relationships, and the bird is a metaphor,” says Williams. “You take it apart, and you destroy it.” And this is exactly what happens here.
At the top of the show, the bird was part of the set, its aluminum frame folded so that it fit into the back wall. When it was time for the bird to “fly,” members of the touring crew pushed it forward manually and turned it 90° onto the stage. Then its 25'-tall wings opened via a set of actuators, or hydraulic pegs. “It was too big for a hand winch,” says Williams. To get into his performing position on the bird, Hayes scaled a little foldout ladder on the back to get up to the top.
Total Solutions in Birmingham, UK, built the bird to Williams' design specs; the engineering design consultant was Charlie Kail. The skin was Rosco Twin White front/rear projection material, as it needed to show light from both sides. “After the big reveal, the skins were stripped off by the band members and touring crew to reveal the skeletal “RoboBird” structure beneath,” adds Williams.
The lighting rig for the tour was what Williams calls “a bit of an experiment.” He used three kinds of automated fixtures: 12 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Performance units, 11 MAC 2000 wash units, and six Clay Paky Alpha HPEs. “The Clay Paky fixtures are serious units,” he says. “The dimming from 25% to zero is flawless.” Control was via a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog 3 with Australian Bruce Ramos as programmer. ETC Source Four ellipsoidals, Molefays, and Lycian followspots were also part of the lighting package. PRG supplied the lighting gear for the tour with video gear from XL Video.
Read more about Williams' video design for the Time Machine tour.