Veteran shock rocker Alice Cooper is once again having his highly theatrical stage show lit by Bandit Lites. Currently in the UK and Europe, playing arenas and large theatres, lighting director Chad “Chopper” Lewis is working alongside a combined crew of Ewan Cameron and Paul Holst from Bandit UK and Bandit Inc. in the US.
Cooper’s unique amalgam of heavy metal, horror movies, and vaudeville performance has fuelled a successful career spanning four decades. This is Lewis’ second tour with Cooper and his first visit to the UK, about which he comments, “The continuity between Mike Golden at Bandit Lites Inc. and Lester Cobrin at Bandit Lites UK makes touring Europe exceptionally smooth, ensuring high production values and the “Bandit Standard” that we expect are maintained. I have been really impressed with the UK operation.”
The original production was designed by artistic director Norm Schwab and lighting designer Rob Roth. From there, Roth and Lewis developed and programmed the light show. They wanted to create a classic monochrome “black and white” feel for the lighting with high contrast, jerky, slightly grainy, grey impressions of early television pictures.
Color-wise, this meant a lot of open white, pastel white tints, and pale colors—slightly unorthodox for what is essentially a heavy rock show. The first half of the set sees Cooper rip through some of his classic rock catalog, while the theatrical pranks (including baby killing, woman beating, hanging, etc.) come during the second half, culminating in Cooper’s hanging and subsequent resurrection to the stage.
The lighting rig is based on five straight trusses, two of which are made from mini-beam and deal primarily with Kabuki-drop drapes, one far upstage, and one mid-stage, with the latter used as a “shadow drape.”
Unsurprisingly it’s an “old school” lighting rig, in keeping with the retro theme, with lots of PAR cans and ACLs. Some of the bars are angled at 45 degrees to the truss to give the roof space architectural shaping.
The three lighting trusses are all pre-rigged. They contain 20 bars of 6 PARs in total, six each on the back and mid trusses, and eight on the front. There are 11 bars of ACLs in total, including two on the floor, supplied by Bandit to second-on-the-bill Motorhead. There are also two vertical truss sections right downstage, rigged with PARs and acting as cross stage boom lighting.
The moving lights are relatively minimal:10 Martin Professional MAC 2K Profiles on the back and mid trusses, four MAC 2K Performances on the front truss, and four MAC 2K Washes on the floor.
Strobes feature heavily at various points, and there are 20 Atomics divided between the mid truss, the “shadow drape” truss and the floor, along with four 8-lite Molefey units on the front truss for audience blinding. The shadow effects are achieved using a single 2K Fresnel upstage.
Lewis operates the show, programmed on a full size grandma, using an MA Lighting console, his desk of choice for its accessibility and ease of use. All dimming is Avolites and distro is via Bandit’s custom PD units.
Bandit is also supplying two DF50 and three F100 smoke machines and four Lycian 2K follow spots to the tour, plus eleven 1-ton motors, three quarter-ton motors (to sub-hang the Motorhead backdrop and bring it in and out quickly and easily), and all necessary rigging.
Motorhead’s LD Stefan Sjoland hired one of Bandit’s Avolites Pearl 2004 consoles, and he also pitches in with Lewis, Cameron, and Holst to build the rig each day.
Alice Cooper’s long-time manager, Shep Gordon worked with tour manager, Toby Mamis, and production manager Cesare Sabatini on this tour.