"Pearl Jam has a somewhat different statement than many other bands onstage - they're concerned with social issues, not materialism," comments lighting designer Anne Militello. "The show can go from being delicate, beautiful, and ethereal one minute to heavy, punk-rock reactionary the next."
To create the right tone for its Binaural tour, Militello and the band got together and explored a myriad of ideas. "I sat down with the band and we talked about a show that was somewhat minimalistic, but on the other hand, would have some projection or scenic elements," Militello explains. The band then brought out some of the artwork from its current CD, all eminently suitable for projection. "Originally, the design of the show consisted of a large white cyc in the background, with 14' and 16' (4.3 and 5m) weather balloons suspended in front of the background. We then used PIGI projectors to project celestial objects taken from the Hubble telescope, as well as other images from nature."
The tour, which began last summer in Europe, used two PIGI projectors, as well as a lighting rig that utilized LSD/Fourth Phase Icons[R] and Icon WashLights[TM], 5k HMI fresnels, Coemar CF 1200s, ETC Source Fours, Molefays, and the ubiquitous PAR-64. The rig itself consisted of four 50' (15m) straight trusses, hung at various trim heights, combined with two 8' (2m) and two 12' (4m) side ladders. "The ladders were really packed - there were PAR cans, Molefays, Icons, and strobes on them. But the band isn't necessarily a fan of movement. We did put some in where it was appropriate - simple, strong moves to make a statement," Militello explains.
As the tour went through Europe, with lighting director Kille Knobel and master electrician Bobby Braccia at the helm, the show returned to the band's minimalist roots. "After a number of shows, the band decided it wasn't that comfortable with the projection, for a variety of artistic and budgetary reasons," Militello says. "Basically, they decided that the show stood on its own."
When the projection (and the weather balloons) were eliminated, the LD added a black scrim to the rig. "It was used to cover the white cyc, so that the cyc could be illuminated in washes or just disappear. Although elements of the show changed, the lighting rig stayed the same throughout the process. But it was kamikaze lighting - the band has up to 300 songs it can use at any given time."
For her palette, Militello used nature-inspired tones, as well as "colors that I use in theatre - sepias, steel blues, and some very vivid reds and greens [pictured]." Veteran attendees of concerts may have noticed something else about her design. "I'm starting the `Light the Drummer Correctly Campaign,' " Militello says with a laugh. "The drummer is as important as the rest of the band, but often gets left out of band washes and specials. I tried to make sure he had the same color and luminosity as the rest of the band, or even brighter to punch through the front line." The Binaural tour, supplied by LSD/Fourth Phase, concluded at home for the band in Seattle in November.