HSL supplied 7 Robe Digital Spots, a set of custom built DMX winches, full lighting, rigging, and crew for designer Rob Sinclair’s innovative look for the Human League’s 2007 Festive tour.
Unlike bands from the 1980s and 1990s currently reuniting to tour once again, the Human League never stopped performing. They still have a solid fan base, attract new devotees of classic 1980s electronica, and are actively producing new work.
It’s Sinclair’s fourth tour with the band. Each year he ensures that the production values are maximized for the available budget and that the band has a fresh style to the stage.
This year lead singer Philip Oakey took a real interest in the visuals. Deciding to perform their seminal 1980 Dare album in order in its entirety, he discussed with Sinclair his desire for a real period feel from the visuals and a “rectangular” basis to the stage.
Sinclair immediately saw many possibilities for using projection to help establish the retro narrative and provide some literal references back to the 1980s. A great example was the cheeky morphing of Thatcher-era politicians’ faces for “Sound of The Crowd.” He also used the projection as an expressive form in its own right.
Sinclair created and edited all the show’s video content himself. Approximately 50% of this is completely new, and the rest was a combination of re-edited and archival material form the Dare album era. All of it is stored on the Robe DigitalSpot heads.
He’s used Robe DigitalSpots DT5000s before, and was one of the first people to tour them last year when HSL made their initial investment. They now have over 20 units, from which Sinclair grabbed 7 for this tour. “They are bright, reliable, rugged units that cope well with the touring. What more could you want?”
He made considerable use of the DigitalSpot’s picture merging facilities, enabling one large image to appear across all screens or any number of smaller ones.
The 7 portrait format screens are hung on the special strap winches that HSL had designed and built for the tour. They needed a smooth and repeatable system for raising them up and down, which could be controlled from the lighting desk to match the DigiSpot cues.
Three screens are flown on the mid truss, with four on the rear truss, all assuming a variety of different formations throughout the set. Having them split across two trusses adds a great perception of depth to the stage, and each screen is fed by a DigitalSpot rigged immediately in front of it.
For moving lights, HSL supplied 18 Robe ColorSpot 700E ATs–9 hung above with 9 on the floor, plus 6 Vari-Lite 1000s on the front truss, and 6 Atomic strobes.
Other fixtures included Pulsar ChromaStrips dotted around the band and Showtec Sunstrips placed along the back of the risers. These each contain 10 individually controllable MR16 lamps and HSL had these powder coated in white to match the backline.
Sinclair controls all the fixtures from a Jands Vista console with one of the new M1 wings.
HSL also supplied 3 follow spots and 2 crew–Rob “Starkers” Starksfield and Tom Oliver for the Uk section of the tour. For the current European leg, Sinclair is taking Mr Starksfield, the screens, DigitalSpots, floor lights, Atomics, and ChromaStrips.
Sinclair says, “I can never say enough nice things about Mike Oates at HSL. He always makes things happen whatever the circumstances and if he managed to clone himself then world peace could be achieved in weeks!”