The 70s progressive rock group, YES, is one of the most successful and enduring groups from that era, and are now on their 35th Anniversary tour, which began in North America and moves to Europe in early July. The tour features an elaborate stage set designed by Roger Dean with lighting design by Leif Dixon.
"We, the production team for the tour, got a first look at the set design as proposed by Roger Dean (who has created many of their album covers) last fall," states LD Leif Dixon. "The set was to be comprised of inflatable structures with artwork reminiscent of YES's early tours, with two large onstage pieces, a canopy over the downstage players, and numerous smaller dressings about the stage and drum kit. We decided early on that the best way to light these items would be internally, so that they would appear to glow without seeing any external beams projecting onto them. This proved to be more difficult than we had planned!"
MAC 600 NT solution
Leif specified Martin MAC units for the tour including several MAC 600NT colorwash units for the deck inflatables. "Ultimately, they worked rather well once we got them placed correctly inside the structures," he comments. "Additionally, we placed several Atomic 3000 strobes inside the inflatables, adjacent to the NTs, which proved to be an excellent effect."
It was the canopy that proved to be something of a nightmare for Leif who originally specified ColorBlast LED fixtures from Color Kinetics for the overhead canopy. "I needed something that would provide rich color mixing and throw light in a very wide spread, yet contained in a small, light package," he states. "The LEDs seemed the appropriate choice. Unfortunately, the canopy was manufactured with no facility to hang or mount the fixtures upon, and some experiments at our production rehearsals proved unsuccessful. Ultimately we added three more NTs to the deck so we could underlight the canopy. It was not a perfect solution according to our original concept but worked well enough at the last minute."
MAC, Atomic rig
Above the stage are Martin MAC moving heads with a Skjonberg motion system. The onstage rig consists of MAC 2000 Profiles, some fitted with custom gobos, and MAC 2000 Wash units with the front truss containing more of the same, along with some UV units and followspots.
"One of my favorite features about the gear has to be the MAC 2000 Wash's output," Leif stated. "It is absolutely amazing how bright it is. I frequently drive the zoom down to the pin spot range and am always pleased with how tight and bright the beam is. I am also always pleased with the Atomic strobes. They kick ass, and I can drive them far longer than the competitors' units."
Leif also mentions his satisfaction with the reliability of the Martin products. "We had very few issues with the kit, and the 2K series in particular held up very well. Our front truss consisted of swing-wing truss, and I was initially skeptical about how the units would hold up on a tour when not afforded the normal protection of a foam-lined case. But we had very few problems and I was pleasantly surprised."
Leif specified grandMA consoles for the tour. "I have been using this desk for just under two years now and am quite keen for it. I like the networking facilities and the wireless remote PDA."
The lighting and rigging package was supplied by the Seattle office of Christie Lites, with Terry Higgs as the account handler. The YES tour has been with Christie for a few years, and incidentally was how Leif was referred to the tour as the LD position became available in 2002. "I have always had a great relationship with Christie Lites," he comments, "so there has never been any thought to make a change in vendor for this tour."
Apart from the YES tour, Leif has also been involved in design work for the French band "AIR", as well as doing programming and tech for numerous corporate shows in the US. He lives in Seattle where, he says, "the summers are lovely, if I can actually get some time at home during the summer!"
Lighting design: Leif Dixon
Crew chief: Dan Maynard
Dimmer tech: Robbie Zuuring
Moving lights: Aaron Stephenson
Electrician: Chris Wilson
Rigger: Jeremy Beneauer
8 x MAC 600NT
8 x Atomic 3000 strobe
32 x MAC 2000 Wash
25 x MAC 2000 Profiles (6 with custom gobos)
4 x Altman UV fixtures with douser scrollers
12 x MR16 20-Lite blinders
4 x Robert Juliat Heloise followspots
1 x Skjonberg system
30 x Color Kinetics ColorBlast
2 x grandMA consoles