It all began when lighting designer Will Tworkreceived a call from Lenny Kravitz’s management in October 2007. They wanted him to design and direct the lighting for the 2008 Just Get on the Bus tour, supporting Kravitz’s new album It’s Time for a Love Revolution, released in March of 2008.
Twork said that the design twist came when he was asked to create an "old school" system. On this tour, Kravitz wanted no moving fixtures, Pixel Lines, or low-res LEDs of any sort.
“I actually jumped at the chance,” Twork recalls. “After all, when I got into the business well over 30 years ago (he’s been a Bandit Lites employee for 24 years), there was no technology to speak of—no Vari-Lites, no HES, and Martin didn't even exist. There was only PARcans, Lekos, dimmers, and if you were lucky, Color Changers.”
Having designed many "PAR only" systems in the 70s-80s for a plethora of metal artists, the concept was second nature for Twork. He contacted expert draftsman/3D rendering guy, Bandit San Francisco’s general manager, Dizzy Gosnell, and got to work. The goal was to design a look that would cover all the bases, yet add something to the show and Kravitz’s music other than just using three straight trusses.
After seeing Twork’s original vision, which involved some Thomas Engineering pods (6-6 lamp bar frames) and Thomas pre-rig truss, Gosnell suggested an idea he tried in the 80s for a very short and forgotten tour. The concept consisted of two 40' sticks of pre-rigged truss flown closely together (at staggered heights) with some add-on 2 lamp PARs, which created what appeared to be a series of pods upstage.
Twork loved the idea and designed the system with an added 40' mid truss (again, fully loaded Thomas pre-rig) and a downstage truss with one row of 30 PARs on the downstage side for set wash. He also added 10-26-degree ETC Source Four ellipsoidals for front light on each band member. Another pod was added off stage right and left (two sections of staggered pre-rig each) angled toward center stage, and the system began to fill out to provide the “huge look” he was trying to create.
Upstage, and on varying heights of boom bases, Twork added 7 bars of 250W ACLs, all with Wybron Color Changers. Twork said that more often than not ACLs are used with no color, as they are typically used for beam FX only and light very little. Twork decided to change color on them to add a unique design element to the entire show.
“I've done that for years and continue the tradition on this design. Because the pipe and base are staggered in height (off stage to on- 8', 10', 12', 14'), I end up with these beams that appear from nowhere, giving the system some depth,” he explains.
Twork rounded out the equipment list with 6 Atomic Strobes, 5-30 cell MR-16 75W mini strips for downstage up light, 4-8 lite units, 2 dry ice heaters, and a couple of DF-50 hazers. All equipment was controlled by a Whole Hog 2 and wing.
For the first time in quite a while, Twork had to grab a Lee Filter swatch book to color this tour. He came to the realization that after all these years, he uses the same 6 base colors: L119 blue, L106 red, L135 amber, L180 lavender, L126 magenta, and L181 congo blue (3 warm, 3 cool).
“It is refreshing to go back to my humble roots for the first time in well over 15 years,” Twork comments. “After all, with all the toys available in the new millennium, it can get a bit monotonous watching too much "eye candy" going on the entire show.”
Although Kravitz has been very happy with the old school PAR look, he’s decided he’d like to add some overhead projector colored oil vibes to the show for his upcoming summer leg in Europe. Twork will be adding some video screens upstage and about a dozen Mac 2000 Performances to the mix.
“I'm in the process of looking at some glass gobos for the MACs to project on the upstage screens as well as the entire band in some cases. I'll also be ordering a dozen or so glass gobos with song titles, lyrics, etc., as per Lenny's vision. I'm jazzed at the direction this is all taking,” Twork adds.
Lenny Kravitz is currently scheduled to begin his European run in late-May of this year.