HSL supplied all lighting for the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s incendiary performance at Belfast’s Ulster Hall, part of which was integrated with the 2011 MTV European Music Awards (EMAs) telecast, staged the same night at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena.

HSL’s creative Director Andy Hurst was asked by MTV to be the television lighting director and production designer for the Ulster Hall site – which also featured a gig the night before by UK rockers Kasabian, part of which was also broadcast as part of the EMA’s show.

Andy worked in conjunction with RHCP’s LD Scott House, and Matt Amos, TV director for the Ulster Hall element of the EMA’s.. He and Matt had also recently teamed up for the Digital Music Awards at London’s Roundhouse.

Andy decided to light the entire RHCP show in different colour temperature whites – to set an edgy down-stripped scene to capture the energy and vibe of their rock-out performance – both for the live audience and on camera.

His idea was also to produce a retro look – with lots of incandescent style PAR and ACL beams – but using the latest technology.

There were also audience seated behind the band in the atmospheric venue’s curved choir stall section, flanking its magnificent Mulholland Grand Organ, so the open setting was ‘the set’ effectively, and the location was ‘unmistakably Belfast ‘– which was at the essence of the whole show and broadcast aesthetic.

The organ was lit with eight i-Pix BB4s, plus four VARI*LITE V*L 3500 Washes which also washed the back walls and choir stalls.

To match the shape of the room, Andy’s design involved a half circle of truss being installed congruous with the wooden curvature of the ceiling and stage – key architectural aspects that he wanted to emphasise with the lighting rig. Off this were hung ten pipe drops to the stage floor, each rigged with five active Sunstrips.

Above stage centre was a smaller trussing circle, flown on four Kinesys motors, which moved seamlessly and subtly during the show bringing another visual dynamic into the mix.

In terms of equipment, there were 11 x VARI*LITE 1000 Spots and 26 x Robe ROBIN 300 Beam moving lights. They were split between overhead and the deck, with the Beams working brilliantly for producing classic ACL looks.


Thirty Robe ROBIN 600 Washes were dotted around – some on the floor and some in the air – the design effectively ‘wrapped’ the band in lights – so from whichever camera angle, there was always something going on lighting-wise in either foreground or background of the shot.

Another 17 Sunstrips were positioned around the front of the circular truss to highlight its shape.

In the roof – nine Svobodas were used as ‘God lights’ big, powerful and impressive, coming from high up at the back.

On the floor upstage of the band – enhancing the multi-layered element of the lighting – Andy placed nine Omni photo-floods on short stands and with no lenses.

Andy set up a busking page on the Whole Hog Full Boar console for Scott to operate for the RHCP show. The Kasabian show was operated by their lighting director Paul Kell.

During the two shows Andy concentrated on lighting the TV aspects of the shoot like keying, audience and follow spots light levels as well as dealing with vision control to ensure they were getting the best out of the cameras from the lighting.

HSL’s four crew were John Lahiffe, Adrian ‘Paddy’ Neilly, Tom Wright and Chris Roper.

The 2011 MTV EMAs also included a massive outdoor concert in front of Belfast City Hall with performances by Snow Patrol, Jason Derulo and Boyce Avenue in an incredible evening of music and live performance that rocked the whole city!

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