Lighting designer Marc Brickman started working on the plot for Roger Waters’ The Wall tour starting in 2009, when he, Waters, Mark Fisher, and a few others began exploring the possibilities of updating the tour based on Fisher’s original set. Like Fisher, Brickman also worked on the original tour in 1980.
“We started gaining momentum this time last year,” says Brickman. “Previz in 3D started, merging Fisher’s drawings with ours. Roger came in a couple days to the rehearsals in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and we programmed 75% of the show there and a lot of the video there—not all the final content, but a good rough track.”
Lighting director Mark “Sparky” Risk also programmed and runs the show on an MA Lighting grandMA, the lighting completely separate from the projection setup. “The key to this show was to combine all of the visual elements as seamlessly as possible,” he says. “This was an approach we used on the Dark Side Of The Moon tour, but with the emphasis on projection this time, we had to be particularly careful in balancing levels.”
Brickman’s original design called for followspot chairs to fly around arenas. “What I was trying to do was really no different as when I joined Pink Floyd in 1980 and the first cue I did,” he says. “We had these old-time cherry-pickers and people suited up like military. This time around, the chairs were supposed to fly x,y,z around the building—fly over the audience and become a character in the show. I wanted some danger added to what Roger was doing aesthetically. We passed all the engineering safety requirements, but some people thought they weren’t safe enough.”
The current followspot setup is two Lycian M2s on stage left and right tracks that move upstage and downstage, as well as vertically, notes Risk, “to enable us to position them perfectly, depending on the state of the wall build and the shots we’re looking for, as well as to provide an exciting visual effect. The flexibility of their positioning allows us to light band members without creating nasty shadows on the wall itself.” The tour also makes use of up to four additional house spots at each venue for general coverage.
The circular screen above the stage is rimmed with 24 Philips Vari-Lite VL3000 Spots, while 18 Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX are used on six vertical torms stage left and right. “The sidelight torm lighting is my signature,” says Brickman. “It creates a dimensional palette to get lines of light in a horizontal way like cutting with a knife. People look beautiful in that lighting.” Twelve Philips Vari-Lite VLX Wash units and 33 Martin Professional Atomic 3000 Strobes—28 with color scrollers—are used across the stage floor.
Barco High End Systems Cyberlight 2.0 units are also heavily featured—24 distributed across eight moving pods, with another eight on front trusses. “I used the Cyberlights on John Mayer last year,” says Brickman. “They’re good focused beams of light, so we didn’t have to worry any spill would come back up on the screens. The pods up there can stay on the main stage and travel downstage on a track.”
Ten PRG Bad Boy luminaires are also used on a downstage truss for covering the forestage, while two Syncrolite XL10s on top of the upstage chicken run provide searchlight effects. Eight Gekko Technology kicklite 106 units are attached to mic stands to frontlight musicians. Dimming is via two ETC 2.4kW 48-way Sensor+ Dimmer Racks, and various medium flood snub nose PARs on the rear low-hanging truss provide backlighting for lifts, the wall, and flags. Effects include four MDG Atmosphere Hazers for general haze, as well as four MDG Max 5000 Heavy Foggers at the sides of the stage for heavy smoke at the collapse of the wall.
“The lighting on this tour is far more subdued than in the past, and we spent a lot of time integrating the lighting with the projection in order to maximize the overall visual impact of the show,” adds Risk. “As a result, while the lighting is far more reserved than that to which people have perhaps become accustomed, the overall visual experience works really well, and that was always our aim.”
“Overall for me, the circular screen is such an iconic element for Pink Floyd, and no matter what, the audience is expecting to be wowed by a Pink Floyd-type show,” concludes Brickman. “Roger does recognize that. We always think about the audience. He did that on Dark Side—married the presentation with video—and did that successfully.”
The Wall will be touring into the summer as of press time.