Approaching their 40th Anniversary, The Moody Blues are at it again, touring with lighting and video courtesy of lighting designer Mick Thornton, who has been working with the band for five years. Thornton was eager to incorporate digital effects into the show, so he grabbed a Martin Maxedia 2.0 system for the US leg, making him one of the first to tour with the new digital media system.

“There has been a progression in the show each year,” he comments. “Last year, we incorporated moving trusses and effects onto white cycs. The next move was to get video, and Bandit recommended the Maxedia. I wanted hands-on projection without having to use studio time or using another artist or programmer.”

The visual aspect of the show features Moody Blues album covers, works of art in their own right that have had a strong impact through the years. “It's really historical album work,” Thornton states. “The concept was to involve the album artwork in the show, manipulate it, put layers into it, and work it with the lightshow.”

Thornton had a good stock of images to use plus files that were already on the media server. He also uses old Moody Blues photos. “The imagery adds more depth and texture to the show — intensity and personality.”

The various effects are projected using EIKI 10,000 lumen projectors onto white cycs to form a 3D backdrop. On some songs, Thornton uses the imagery as a still texture backdrop; on other songs there is more movement. About half the show involves the album imagery as images morph with the old photos. Effects generally involve very slow speed movement, with the myriad effects encompassing kaleidoscope images, concentric circles moving across the screen, default effects and more. On the song “Question,” Thornton creates a tunnel effect with an album cover image falling down a tunnel then emerging as a Moody Blues logo.

Thornton runs the show from an Avolites Diamond console. He uses a Bandit-supplied rig of 16 Martin MAC 2000 Profiles, 120 PAR cans, eight 2-lite Molefays, and ETC Source Fours® on the show.

Thornton is critical of the usage of color and what is “good enough.” He has always been interested in art and fine art, and he says this is his first experience in 23 years in the industry that has allowed him to have complete hands on control of the art without having to rely on another source. “It's not what you put in but what you leave out,” he says. “Put another way, it's often how you use the darkness. You can be spoiled by too many toys. When I have fresh ideas, that makes it. Something specific in my head can be transformed into an image I can use.”

For “Nights in White Satin,” Thornton often takes a photo of the Moody Blues advertisement from each show and uses it as a layer in the show that day. The look incorporates white silk from his wife's wedding dress with a video layer of the ad in the background. “I can go out and take a picture of something specific that I want and use it in the show immediately. It gives the audience something personal. It will be interesting to see how the show is now and then how it changes two months from now.”

The tour has finished its summer US leg, but additional legs are planned for the fall, both in the US and Europe.