Unfortunately, Pink's third album, Try This, performed a little disappointingly compared to its predecessor, Missundaztood, so the singer's management decided to forego the expense of an American-continent tour, which is a shame, because from all accounts, the majority of her American fans — those unable to jet to one of her live concerts earlier this year in Europe or Australia — missed watching the singer truly come into her own onstage. Working with show director Jamie King (Madonna, *NSYNC) for the first time, Pink created a rowdy, raunchy, acrobatic extravaganza, complete with dancers, wild outfits, interactive songs, big hits, and a tribute to Janis Joplin.
LD Ethan Weber, who also designed the last tour, notes that the design was completely driven by Pink's plan to structure it into three distinct sections. “She wanted to do one part for each of her albums: Can't Take Me Home, Missundaztood!, and Try This,” he explains. “She wanted the show to show her evolution in music. Each album is pretty distinct in its own right, and she wanted the show to reflect that.”
Pink's main scenic request for set designer Mark Fisher was to have some (fake) speakers that could crawl around upstage. “So Mark came up with a few versions, and I came up with a few different versions of trussing that I thought would work with that,” Weber says. “We decided that the first part of the show was going to be kind of stark in terms of design. She does make her entrance by descending from the rigging in a cage, and she wears a pink Mohawk wig.”
For each section, a big curtain with “PINK” on it was used to shield the stage and then reveal the next part. In the second part of the show, the scenic speakers are revealed, and Pink begins with the Twisted Sister song “I Wanna Rock.” Then, the third part of the show features stripper poles, blowup dolls, Pink's rendition of “Lady Marmalade,” and a backdrop composed, in part, of women's underwear.
“For the truss shape, I wanted to have a big wall of light for her — just really fill the ceiling out and give her a big look,” Weber explains. “She trusts me and is comfortable with the way I light her shows, so she only had a few specific requests. For the song ‘Trouble,’ when she's writhing around with the dancers, she didn't want any front light, just patterns on them. So I used all backlight and sidelight in gobos. Then, there were a few songs last tour that we did with no spotlights, just uplights, and she really liked the look and feel of that, so we did that again, even though we were in arenas and these were bigger shows. It was still nice to get a different feel in there.”
Weber worked with lighting company PRG to spec the rig. “They did a great job on the last Pink tour and, as always, the show was budget-driven, so I went with the MAC 2000s and other lights they had in stock. I tried out the new Thomas Pixelline LED Striplights, which I loved — it's a great effect. I had them hung vertically at different heights, attached to the lower half of the set.”
Pink loves smoke and strobe lights, so Weber used four DF-50 hazers and tried out Martin's Atomic Strobes for the first time. “They were good, although they seemed almost too white — probably because I'm used to the old Diversitronics ones, which weren't quite as white. But they are powerful, and we used a lot of them — more as a blast of light, rather than an actual strobe light. I also like using them for some low-intensity looks; I would have them pulse in the background.
“I also used the [VARI*LITE] VL1000™ incandescent lights for all the key lights,” Weber continues. “I've always liked using lekos for my front light, and it was the perfect solution. Because of her dancers, almost all the band members had a few different positions, so instead of doubling up on lekos, I was able to do everything with half the number of lights. I also had a bunch of PAR cans because I still think there is no better looking light source.”
For control, Weber used Avolites' new Diamond 4 console. “I went with the Diamond 4 because I like running a show using faders and flash buttons,” he says. “I'm not big on the GO button. It's a board I feel comfortable with, having grown up using Avolites consoles and using the Diamond 3 for the last few years. I knew I wasn't going to have a lot of time to program, so I couldn't really afford the learning curve I would have had if I'd used the [Martin] Maxxyx or the [High End Systems] Wholehog® III.
“I really enjoyed running the show with it,” Weber continues. “They've sorted out some timing and masking issues, and there are about a million new options — but the way I was able to build cues and the timings and a few of the effects were the most important to me.”
Weber started the tour with four Strong 2k Super Trouper followspots in the front and two in the truss, but added another front-of-house spot after the first show. “Originally, the dancers weren't going to be as big a part of the show as they became, so we were going to try to do it with just some front light,” he says, “but we ended up needing the extra spotlights for them. We needed the extra punch because our trim height was fairly low — the back truss was maybe 22' and it curved up to 30', so the lights were all pretty bright.”
The set design dictated the rig's trim height. “The back of the truss was just above the top of the scenic speakers, and the front was just above the curtain track in the front,” Weber explains. “I like a low trim, but I would have liked a bit more separation between trusses. It was three structures, but one shape. John Lobel at LSD/PRG suggested breaking it up to make it easier to load in and load out, and Robin Wain, who was our account/project manager in the UK, came up with the idea of using their version of the moving light truss, which helped out dramatically. You can leave the lights in the trusses and not have a lot of boxes lying around the stage during load ins and load outs. We had a great crew: Adam Finer, Craig Hancock, Kes Thornley, and Glenn Power all did a great job, and we had a great working relationship.”
Weber programmed the show in six days at Bray Studios in London and at The Point in Dublin, where there was no heat on in the building. “This was in February, and the first day, I made it to 7 am and just couldn't do anymore,” Weber says. “The second day, I got smart and brought out a few PAR cans over the board. That's another reason to always use PAR cans: because when all else fails, you can use them as space heaters.
“It was a fairly cue-intensive show with over 100 moving lights — and with the dancers and the choreography, there was a lot going on,” Weber continues. “Her music is pretty dynamic. So it's not just verse-chorus, verse-chorus. Some of the songs were the same from last time, so at least I had a head start. There were some looks from the last tour that I really liked, even though the lights were totally different, so I tried to recreate some of those looks and expand on them.”
The last third of Pink's show and the encore featured “big” songs like her cover of Guns N' Roses' “Welcome to the Jungle” and her huge hit, “Get the Party Started.” “I used a fair amount of white light and the color correction in the MAC 2000s — white and off-white,” says Weber of the final set. “It was more than I would normally use because it felt right for this show. It didn't feel like, ‘Oh, here's another white song.’ There were a lot of strong color washes and big color looks, too.”
The tour made its way through Europe where they shot a DVD in Manchester and then continued on to five shows in Australian arenas. This summer, Pink is performing at some summer festivals as well as at some of her own shows. So, if you live in Russia or Iceland, you're in luck — be sure to catch Pink's show when she comes around.
Pink's Try This Tour
Lighting crew chief
Moving light technician
John Lobel and Robin Wain
|34||Martin MAC 2000s|
|32||High End Systems PC Beams|
|23||High End Systems Studio Color 575s|
|24||Martin Atomic Strobes|
|10||Thomas Pixelline LED Striplights|
|17||PAR64 six-lamp bars|
|7||Strong 2k Super Trouper followspots|
|4||Wybron Color changers|
|1||Avolites Diamond 4 Vision console|