Blackburn UK based lighting rental company HSL supplied lighting equipment and crew to the latest UK White Lies tour, which featured a spectacular, high-impact, edgy, lighting design – based primarily on white and near white light – by Chris Megginson.

HSL was brought in to work with White Lies by Darren Snape of Vertical Management right at the start of their meteoric career 2 years ago, which has since experienced a steep upwards trajectory. This was their largest production tour to date and included two sold out nights at London’s Brixton Academy. HSL’s project manager Mike Oates says, “It’s extremely rewarding seeing a talented band grow, and Chris’s designs, which are always exciting and innovative, evolve”.

Megginson began the creative process for this one by presenting some ideas to the band to get them energised about the lighting. They really wanted a massive wall of PAR cans to define the stage space, so they ended up with an upstage grid 8 high by 16 wide of lamps, utilising a total of 128 x 500W Ray-Lites.

The Wall PARs were hung on standard 6-lamp bars with 4 cans per bar to give a 600mm separation between all of them on both horizontal and vertical planes. The bars were hung below one another on steel ropes, and HSL devised an extremely rapid rigging system whereby the first row was attached to the truss and levelled with a turnbuckle. The truss was then flown out and the next row of lamp bars added – and so on – until the Wall construction was complete.

The lamps were angled downwards at 45 degrees as Megginson wanted a more off-beat “operatic” look than a standard heavy metal ‘wall of death’ effect where they all point directly forward into the audience. The Wall was concealed behind a gun-metal lame Austrian drape for the first 6 numbers of the set, and revealed during a dramatic white-out effect.

There were also 3 overhead trusses – front, mid and rear.

The back truss featured 4 x Robe ColorSpot 2500E ATs, picked for their extreme brightness, along with 4 Atomic strobes with colour-changers, rigged in pairs, plus 2 bars of ACLs.

The mid truss had a repeat of the rear fixture configuration.

The front truss was rigged with 4 i-Pix BB4s used for a general stage wash, 4 ETC Source Four profiles for some key lighting to cover the downstage ‘posing’ positions and 5 x 4-way square Molefeys for audience blinding, with the centre one rigged higher to make a subtle arch shape.

Across the back on the stage floor were 6 Vari*Lite 3500 Washes to illuminate the cyc, which also doubled as forward pointing wide beamy effects, Most of the key lighting was achieved with 8 PAR 30 footlights around the front of the stage. For additional back light of a totally contrasting quality, 4 red heads on 8ft high stands were positioned at 45 degree angles from each band member, barn-doored off from spilling into the audience. These hailed back to the first show Megginson ever lit for White Lies at the Hoxton Bar & Grill, where he utilised 3 red heads – an effect that worked really well. On this tour, their softer lighting was a striking contrast to all the hard edged fixtures on the rig.

For low back light there were 4 x i-Pix BB4s – one per band member – located at the foot of each red head stand. Also on the floor were another 4 strobes and 4 CO2 jets.

As extras for the London and Manchester shows, HSL provided 8 x A&O 6K Falcon Beam searchlights. These were rigged 4 on the floor in a row at the back and 4 on an additional truss flown between the mid and back touring trusses. They were used only in the final song – “Death” – when the truss flew in to a low trim of between 10 and 15 feet, firing over the heads of the band for a show stopping finale.

Megginson started the tour using just different colour whites, but by the end had added in some lavenders and steel blues to add a dash of white-graded colouration.

He ran it all on a Hog iPC console.

HSL’s crew were Andy “Paris” Hilton and “Theatre” Tom Wright, joined by Ian Stevens to tech the Falcon Beams for the Brixton and Manchester Apollo shows.

Says Megginson, “HSL have once again been brilliant – the kit was in great condition, the service and support from Mike as a project manager was fantastic and the crew were just fabulous!”

Date of issue : 21st December 2009

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