Bandit Lites is supplying lighting production and crew to Production North for the second UK X-Factor tour. The tour takes Simon Cowell’s highly-rated TV pop-star contest on the road. The 2005 debut tour was such a success that the 2006 tour has an expanded itinerary, featuring a full month of sold-out UK arenas. Once again, Bandit is working with lighting director and programmer Arturo Ollandini, who collaborated closely with lighting and set designer Peter Barnes and show producer Tim Byrne.

“The TV show pulled in over 10 million viewers each week, so it was no surprise that the demand for tickets on this tour would exceed last year hence the 100% increase in the number of shows,” says Bandit’s project manager Lester Cobrin.

The set mimics that of hugely successful talent-seeking TV series. This year the tour features an exceptionally strong line up of the final eight contestants– including winner Shayne Ward and runners up Andy Abraham and Journey South.

The overhead rig is dominated by a large, gently raked, X-shaped truss skeleton, constructed from Tomcat 12” trussing, and clad in red and white gauze fabric supplied by Hangman, who supplied all the soft goods. This is mirrored on the floor by a scenic “X” with a similar rake angle on the opposite axis. Upstage and to the sides are two chevron shaped set pieces, which neatly frame the side-stage, continuing the lines of the stage’s “X” geometry and highlighted with Pulsar ChromaBanks.

Below the flown “X” is a diamond shaped LED video screen supplied by XL Video, which is also flanked by ChromaBanks attached to scenic surround panels. The screen is primarily used for IMAG during the show, from a live camera mix directed by Billy Robinson.

Rigged onto the X and rear truss are Martin MAC 2Ks and MAC 600s, and these are the main stage and set workhorse fixtures. The stage floor features more MAC 2000s and 600s. The set “X” on the floor features over 100 built-in Raylites. To maintain the sightlines of the stage and its various Xs, front light on the performers is primarily provided from four Lycian 2K follow spots. All lighting–set and stage–is controlled by Ollandini, running a Wholehog 2 console.

The design team needed to create a show with immediate high-visual impact to keep the audience’s attention for the two-and-a-half-hour show. This is different than a conventional show, which has a gradual build up throughout the set via different tempos and moods to a high-impact finale.

This fast paced show is divided into two halves. The first features solo performances by five of the eight X-Factor finalists in reverse order, plus special guests and an audience competition slot. The second half kicks off with Journey South, leading into Andy Abrahams and then is closed by Shayne Ward, before the grand finale starring all performers and dancers.

“Each performance needed its own visual style and looks,” says Ollandini. The different styles and personalities of the performers aided the process, and from an expediently sized lighting rig for an arena show, Ollandini has created colorful, high-energy entertainment.

The tour is being production managed by Sarah Hollis for Production North, with audio supplied by Wigwam and pyros –new for 2006 – from Pyro Junkies. Bandit crew members are Steve Rusling, Rob Starksfield, and Martin Garnish.