Bloc Party’s recent UK tour featured a Radical Lighting RADlite NG1 digital media server, utilized to great effect by lighting designer Dom Smith.
The RADlite was driving five 4m high columns of Element Labs VersaTILES (18 panels in total) which were attached to the front of five upright trussing sections standing on the floor. These were arranged in a gently curving semi circle mimicking the lines of the rear truss overhead.
The aesthetic idea behind these was that they would create a monolithic tower block feel to the stage—reflecting the slightly perturbed and harsher urban ambience of the new album A Weekend In The City. He also intended this architecture to physically enclose the band within their performance area onstage—and to be almost intimidating and claustrophobic at times, as is sometimes the case with city life.
Smith specified the RADlite because he wanted a video element to the show and he thought the towers should come to life and play a multiple role in the stage action, rather than just being structural elements. He also intended to use them as an additional and contrasting lightsource.
In the past he has worked with Radical Lighting’s PixelDrive pixel mapping product and also used an earlier version of RADlite, so it was an obvious choice, as he was well aware of its creative possibilities. “I was very keen to try the new NG1 version,” he says. “I had heard good reports.”
He spent about four days creating all the content himself using a variety of software including Apple Motion. It was his first foray into cutting this type of video for a show, and he’s “really enjoyed the journey.”
He’s found the NG1 very easy to program and playback, and it’s proved extremely stable throughout the tour, “It does the business,” he states.
The video effects were used for about two thirds of the band’s concise set in a show blending conventional lighting and video effects seamlessly into a larger and more diverse picture, sometimes working together and sometimes in contrast to one another.
“Using the NG1 has generally opened up another layer of dynamics and I’m sure it will be developed further as the tour progresses,” he says.
The NG1 and lighting kit was supplied by Siyan along with Smith’s three crew: Rob Watson, Will Yapp, and Jon Barker.
The tour is in Europe until the end of May, then does summer festivals, Australia and New Zealand before returning to the US. There’s currently talk of larger UK shows later in the year.