After more than 20 years, Queen returned to the US to play two sold-out shows as a precursor to their 2006 US tour: an October 16 show at The Meadowlands arena in East Rutherford, NJ, and an October 22 show at Hollywood Bowl, one of the most celebrated outdoor venues in America. Bandit Lites supplied the full lighting production and crew for both shows.
The Hollywood Bowl is an historic American venue, an 83-year-old cultural landmark with a unique shape all its own. Lighting designer Barry “Baz” Halpin had to transfer the big, square lighting rigs of Queen’s European tour to the round shape of the Bowl. “We had to come up with a plan B, not a compromise but something intentional,” says Halpin. “We compacted everything down. It was millimeter tight and had to be 100% perfect.”
To get it right, knowing they would only have one day to load-in, Dizzy Gosnell of Bandit drew the Hollywood Bowl in 3D and made renderings of possible design options, factoring in a large 20’-high LED wall that would be onstage and the lack of movement available for trusses at the Bowl. The final design incorporated it all and fit the contours of the Bowl.
“The 30’ straight trusses were short enough that we could angle them to give the impression of following the contours of the Bowl,” explains Halpin. “It was uncanny how close it was to the drawing. We tried to fill everything up and get everything up as high as possible so we could still see all the trusses and gain the effect when we lit the trusses internally.”
Halpin’s design is immense and the timing is excellent. Queen was renowned for its huge lighting rigs in the '80s and Barry mimics that same feel but with moving light fixtures instead of PAR Cans. Barry used 16 MAC 2000 Performance and 160 MAC 2000 Wash for the Hollywood Bowl show. The 2000 Wash worked as both an imitation of PAR Cans for classic rock ‘n roll looks and as the color changing Fresnel it is. The MACs traveled cabled up inside Thomas Swing Wing truss in order to go up fast.
Like the European rig, the US rig featured five 60’ moving trusses over-stage, split in the middle to make a roof of lights, each dressed with MAC 2000 Wash with one 60’ moving truss at the back. Halpin illuminated the trusses and let them become a set feature. There were also side-drop trusses to give dynamic side lighting and perspective along with some lights on the floor off to the sides. The show included everything from intimate stage looks to massive ‘wall of light’ mayhem for Queen’s signature power rock anthems.
Queen will play a 23-date tour of the USA and Canada this coming spring. The tour kicks off on March 3rd in Miami, FL. And Dizzy states, “If you get a chance to see this show when it’s in your neck of the woods, call in sick, drive, fly, run, get there anyway you can, it’s really worth it.”