PRG Europe has supplied a large package of MAC 2000 Washes and Atomic strobes with Atomic Colors scrollers for British pop star Robbie Williams’ 2006 Close Encounters stadium world tour. In rehearsals since early May, the tour kicked off in mid-June and runs through the end of the year.
Lighting designer is Al Gurdon (Brit Awards, MTV Europe Awards, Classical Brit Awards, Nobel Peace Prize Concert) who has been lighting top television programs and events for the past eighteen years, as well as DVD shoots for some of the top performers in the industry like U2, Phil Collins, Sting, and many more. Yet despite his vast experience in the industry, not to mention his years of experience using Martin gear, this is Al’s first concert tour design.
“I was excited to have the opportunity to design the lighting for Robbie’s tour,” he states. “The brief has been evolving in a fairly organic way for over a year or so. The choice of fixtures was predicated on the shape of the set and the function of what I want to use them for. Also, being an outdoor show with no roof it’s hard to keep smoke levels up so in choosing any of the lighting it had to be used in a practical way, we couldn’t rely on fixture beams because we didn’t know if we’d have any.”
The show features an abundance of color from 88 MAC 2000 Washes and a whopping 122 Atomic strobes with Atomic Colors. “There is a lot of color in the show, a lot more than I would normally use,” says Al. “On that scale, great slabs of color is what is needed because it has a lot more impact. The color is also used to complement the video. It’s very important to integrate the lighting with whatever is going on in the set. It’s essential to get integration of color and at its simplest the closer you get to matching colors, and the more unified and monolithic that look becomes, the more effective it becomes to an audience of 50,000 to 100,000 people. Occasionally, you get a stronger look by contrasting a color, but I tend towards using the same color. If you start mixing colors up then it weakens the whole look and impact. The impact really comes when you have this whole organism with the lighting acting with a sense of the same purpose.”
The Close Encounters set is dominated by six large, curved architectural ‘tusks’ and two 26 meter high overhanging arms referred to as ‘scorpion tails.’ Embedded into the bellies of the tusks and scorpion tails are 6500 Barco O-lite blocks which give the stage a wonderful 3D depth. The set is also dominated by three, large Mitsubishi OD8 LED screens.
“It’s a very designed architectural space and the purpose of many of the lights is to emphasize that shape and to work with it,” Al explains. “There are a series of grille panels under the scorpion tails with a MAC 2K Wash in the center of each which is a really good look for defining the shape of the set. They will often point out into the audience so you’re always aware of the shape of the set because those fixtures define the shape.
“Their other function is to color the audience in the same way as the set, to include them in the whole process. Robbie’s shows are very much about the audience, they often sing the song and are a critical part of the show. He has a great relationship with them. The show is about being with 50,000 other people who love being there and love the performer.”
Twelve MAC 2000 Washes hang on the underside of each ‘tail.’ On the top of each PA scrim are 8 MAC 2000 Washes lighting down the scrim as well as out into the audience. On the floor on each side of the stage are 11 MAC 2000 Washes shining up the PA scrim while 14 more located in the ‘bunker’ at the back of the set project beams out into the crowd. There are also 6 MAC 2000 Washes hanging on the video frames used to light the band along with additional fixtures on the floor left and right for band cross washes. Control is from a Virtuoso.
Martin Atomic 3000 strobes make up an integral part of the visual design with each strobe outfitted with Atomic Colors scrollers. The Atomics are spread across the set with most hanging off the O-Lite panels in keyhole fittings that click into the side of the screen. Others are located in the scorpion tails, at the top and bottom of the O-Lite panels, in the bunker, and behind the grille that circles the stage.
“The Atomics are a very important part of the show and we use the color on the Atomics throughout,” Al comments. “They are designed to be seen and also help reflect the shape of the set. All the scrollers have the same custom colors which were chosen to match the different types of lights we use in the show.”
Robbie Williams hits several European countries through the summer before playing a series of Asian and Australian dates later in the year. The show is selling out everywhere it goes.
122 x Martin Atomic 3000 strobes w/ Atomic Colors scrollers (Custom Colors)
88 x Martin MAC 2000 Wash (Fresnel Lens)
16 x B52 Syncrolites (c/w Custom Scrollers on both Scrolls)(Top of Tusks + PA Sides)
8 x 2.5k Nova Lites(Floor PA Wings)
42 x VL3000 Spots (c/w Custom Gobos)(6xBack Truss Rest on Olite Frames + 2 x Floor Bunkers
8 x Coemar Supercycs (Floor PA Wings)
28 x VL5a’s (12 Row Lenses) (Inside Scorpions)
16 x VL2000 washes (Floor Std Colours)(Under B Stage)
6 x DMX Dominators c/w DMX Dimmer Shutters (Floor PA Wings)
6 x Hungaro Flashes 85k. (Top of Tusks)
18 x 8lite DWE Moles c/w Wybron Scrollers (16 Frames custom Scrolls) (Behind Set Gauze offstage)
8 x 18k Gargantrams c/w Custom Scrollers(Back lighting Olite Panels)
24 x Thomas Pixel Pars (Toners on the Onstage Tusks)
80 x Color Blocs (46 x Downlighting Scorpion Gauzes 30 x Downlighting PA Header Truss Scrim)
129 x Color Blasts (12 x 12way Controllers) 32 x Under DS Grill, 43 x Around Back Grill, 14 x DS Front of Stage, 16 x US front of the Bunker 24x Dotted Around Band)
1 x Virtuoso EX1
1 x Virtuoso + 1 x Spare
10 x NIF’s + 10 Nodes
299 x 1k Dimmers for Practical Lights in Set (274 Floods + 24xPars Gondela)
8 x 8’ Mini Beam (back Truss)
10 x 8’ Atype Truss (Vertical Moles Sides)
2 x 3m A type Truss (PA Headers)
4 x 2.5m Type Truss (PA Headers)
6 x Starklite Followspots (2 x Longthrow + 4 x Med Throw)
6 x 3k Gladiator Followspots
All Mains Distro – System Runs from 6 x 400a Supplies (3 x SR + 3 x SL)