Lighting designer Jon Pollak had no hesitation in recommending that ADLIB Lighting supplied the equipment and crew for the UK leg of veteran American jazz rockers Steely Dan's current European tour.
Pollak first worked with the Liverpool based company in 2007 when he was lighting folk singer Ray Lamontagne. "They did a fantastic job! I was so impressed with the kit and the personnel that I really wanted to use them again," he states.
In creative terms, Pollak's lighting for Steely Dan is minimalist, sparse but effective. It takes the 'less is more' principal at the core of the design and 'lighting the music' as its basic tenet, highlighting the cerebral and often dark lyrical spin of the songs.
Lighting-wise, the UK shows were based on 3 straight 48 ft trusses to cover the 50 ft wide performance area.
These were loaded with 21 Martin Professional MAC 2K Washes and 16 MAC 700 Spots. The Washes were utilised for general band and stage washes, primarily an ever evolving series of subtle and straightforward colour combinations, while the Spots took the role of providing basic beam-work and tasteful effects across the 12 piece band and substantial area that needed covering.
For key lighting and specials, ADLIB supplied 25 ETC Source Four Profiles with 19 degree lenses.
Upstage on the floor there were 24 (now Phillips SSL) ColorBlaze 48 LED strips focused cyc style onto a generic black backdrop. This worked amazingly well ..... the power and richness of the LEDs were easily potent enough to replicate a full lit backdrop effect event on the black cloth.
Pollak operated the show using a Hog iPC console running in Hog 2 mode. Audio used a large analogue console, so he needed something with plenty of functionality and a small footprint, specially for some of the smaller theatre venues.
This also allowed him to integrate earlier programming work that he'd completed on the Steely Dan shows dating back to 2006, which proved a real bonus as there was no production rehearsal or pre-programming time for the UK tour. He now has a pool of about 70 programmed songs available - elements of which are included in the variable set list each night.
Structurally the lighting is very intricate, with some songs containing up to 70 or 80 lighting cues, not counting manual 'specials' which can double that number again! It may be a classic show from many lighting standpoints, but it requires "A highly concentrated mode of operation," says Pollak.
ADLIB supplied Tim Spillman and Andy Rowe to crew the tour, of whom Pollak concludes, "They were really wonderful people, highly knowledgeable, very efficient and a real pleasure with which to work".