Himuro may be an unknown quantity outside of Asia, but in Japan he's a rock god. Set designer Mark Fisher and LD Abbey Rosen Holmes created a suitably divine environment for the performer's One Night Stand tour last fall. When the house lights go black, video footage rolls on a huge LED screen in the middle of the stage. After about a minute, a series of staircases, which had been tucked up into the roof, peel their way down to the stage while the Vari*Lite(R) VL6(TM) automated luminaires mounted to the stairs begin flashing.
"This is a great moment because no one knew that the set would move, and it's dropping down, down, down as the videotape runs," explains Holmes. "The lights are all congo and blue, and there is a truly tremendous quantity of smoke in the air. The videotape ends with an eclipse, then goes to black. After a brief pause, Himuro shoots up in the blackness on a pop-up lift in the center of the stage. He appears in full rock star mode, wearing all black, including a fantastic long leather coat with marabou sleeves and collar. Every spot and light in the rig is aimed at him for a moment, then we proceed to run all the [High End Systems] Dataflash(R) AF1000 strobe units until the song ends."
Brilliant Stages built the multi-layered, repositionable set and video company Shimizu Audio Visual supplied the LED videoscreen. Holmes lit the proceedings with 18 VL6 spot luminaires, 12 VL4(TM) wash luminaires, ACLs, Molefays with color changers, and PAR cans supplied by Vari-Lite Asia.
Holmes also included 24 VL7(TM) spot luminaires in the design. "It's always exciting to use something new, and in this case, the artist was really excited by the idea of having something first, with some tricks that people hadn't seen before. I really like the beta-testing process, although I suspect it makes some people really insane, because you're accepting that they're not debugged yet."
The designer did have some problems with the color system at first, but with support from Vari-Lite offices in Asia and Dallas, the lights' performance had markedly improved by the tour's start. "We found a few odd bugs, but it was fun working with them. They do some things suitable for this show--even when you narrow the beam down tightly, you can put in a purely saturated color and still see the beam at the back of the arena. The optics are just unbelievable."
Sean Nugent helped Holmes program the show; after the first few performances, the Vari-Lite Asia crew took over. LD Manny Treeson and Nugent returned in October to oversee filming the show at Yokohama Stadium at the end of the tour.
"Himuro is quite a star, and very charismatic onstage," Fisher concludes. "And it was the first time in years that I had worked with an axeman who played with his teeth and behind his head. It looked stunning thanks to Abbey, and everything worked thanks to Brilliant. It was quite a fun project."