HSL supplied lighting equipment and crew for Lily Allen’s just completed UK theatre tour—her largest production to date.
Lighting for the popular and feisty British singer/songwriter was designed by Neil Trenell. HSL supplied 32 of its new Robe Series 700 fixtures to the sold-out tour plus a 10 x 10m MainLight Industries Soft-LED backcloth and an Avolites Diamond 4 console among other elements.
Trenell was delighted when HSL won the tender to be lighting contractor. He’s worked with them a lot and thinks they are one of the best supply companies in the UK. HSL’s Mike Oates project managed, and comments, “Neil is always a pleasure to work with—he’s one of a new, enthusiastic, and inventive generation of LDs, and it’s also good to be working with an artist surrounded by a real buzz like Lily Allen.”
Trenell’s basic design was based around two straight 40ft trusses—front and back—which in the ideal circumstances and sized venues, were trimmed at over 30 ft to give the stage a real sense of height, depth, and space. To frame the LED backdrop, he added two vertical ladder beams flanking either side of the back truss, and onto the cross struts of these were rigged four Robe ColorWash 700s a side.
The two trusses were toned with a total of 16 i-Pix Satellite LED fixtures, which Trenell calls, “Awesome little units” that contain all the intensity and light within the trusses with minimal spillage.
To create a carnival style theme he draped 14 strings of 10 and 15m festoons between the trusses in a random style.
Other ‘set dressing’ pieces included five strings of standard household Christmas tree lights, draped around the backline and front monitors, and several lengths of red and white (to match the album colors) rope light wound around the drum kit and streamed over the backline. Allen’s technicians were extremely cooperative in the face of having their world invaded by lighting.
Four mirror balls were rigged across the front and back trusses—requested by Allen—and five 4-cell Moles resided on the front truss for audience illumination.
HSL also supplied two Robert Juliat Korrigan followspots, two compressed air confetti cannons and hazers.
The moving lights were all Robe 700 AT series—22 ColorSpots and 10 ColorWashes. The back truss was a mixture of alternating Spots and Washes, with more spots positioned on the floor, while there were just spots placed on the front truss, fulfilling several roles including doing gobo work on the band, key lighting, and swinging out into the crowd.
Trenell comments that the frost filter on the ColorSpot 700s is so good that it effectively turns them into wash lights. He also likes the fact that both wash and spot units are extremely bright for a 700 Series fixture and that the color mixing is “exquisite.”
For control he chose the Avolites Diamond 4 Elite—always his console of choice. He also used this to trigger his own Hippotizer digital media server running all the content for the LED backdrop.
There were no production rehearsals, just a pre-rigging day, but he was able to do some pre-programming at HSL on his laptop running the Avolites D4 Pilot desk simulator.
According to Trenell, his crew of Pete Barber and John Lahiffe “Were both brilliant,” and the standard of the prep on the equipment coming out of HSL was “Absolutely first class, which was absolutely essential given the minimal programming time we had between getting the rig up and running for the first time and the first show.”
In fact, the looms were so tidily done and the road cases so meticulously labelled that almost every local crew they encountered noticed and remarked on this.
“Mike Oates has been a legend as ever in terms of looking after us,” states Trenell. “It’s great to be working with HSL again, they really listen to us, take onboard what we have to say, and use the feedback to fine-tune their already fantastic service.”
Production manager is John Delf and the man keeping everyone in order on the road is tour manager Pip Betteridge.