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Bandit Helps Bring Jethro Tull Rock Opera to Life
USA – In a show unlike any other, Ian Anderson performs a complex rock opera of Jethro Tull, the revolutionary 18th century English agriculturist who also happened to inspire the name of the British progressive rock band. Bandit Lites once again provided the lighting package for the tour which uses an intricate combination of video and live music, as Anderson weaves a tale that features some of his most recognisable works, including “Aqualung” and “Songs from the Woods.”
English lighting designer Mark Wheatley crafted a precise harmonisation between the lighting and video, as so much of the narrative performance relies on timing.
“Much of the vocal work is done by characters on the screen, so synchronisation between lighting and projection is pretty crucial to the success of the show,” Wheatley said. “It is quite a theatrical presentation so far as drawing focus to the story being told, but it is also a good old fashioned rock & roll show involving songs that most of the audience have known for years.”
Using a projection screen comprised a simple 16:9 backdrop and border with an 18K projector rigged on the front truss, Wheatley designed the lighting to encroach heavily around the edges of the projection surface, giving it a more rounded look as opposed to the straight edged projection looks seen in movie theatres.
“The truss towers on the floor and the varying heights of the strip lights on the upstage truss really help to give a more curved appearance to the backdrop,” Wheatley explained. “I’ve been able to have a fair bit of input so far as the layout of the video content is concerned so most of the vital action happens on the centre screen.”
Bandit provided Martin MAC Auras as front light, giving Wheatley the zoom and colour correction necessary to light the band and the flexibility to move them due to their light weight.
“I can happily move them during the show without a noticeable swinging effect on the projector which is rigged on the same truss,” Wheatley said. “Although Ian has spent most of his career being in a followspot beam, he has embraced the idea of not using them really well. Much as I enjoy using spots on a show, the lack of them on this tour have been a creative challenge for me, so along with the straight forward front light, I use low level cross light from my downstage booms and also high side light from my mid-truss fixture pretty heavily throughout the show as these give me some great dramatic effects and have no impact on the video screen.”
Additional fixtures supplied by Bandit include back light from Martin MAC Vipers, Clay Paky Sharpys and GLP X4s, which provided strong beams without video-obscuring haze. Strip lights around the screen along the back truss and on the floor towers also give movement effects.
“I first started working with Jethro Tull in the 1980s before I was even working with Bandit, so coming back full circle to working with Ian’s show again after a gap of a few years is just fantastic,” said Bandit Lites’ Dizzy Gosnell. “Mark and production manager Chris Archer have been a joy to work with all along, and the show itself is really a game changer. I can honestly say, hand on heart that I have never seen a rock show that runs in this way before. The video is the backbone of the entire show with Ian and the band playing live with added vocals of video characters behind them. Of course the timing of all people (band and crew) on this show has to be impeccable and it is. Video cues bump changing to dynamics of the live music, scene changes and twin vocals of Ian and video, all this with manually operated lighting and sound is really intricate. Mark runs such a tight and relevant show with the lights, not one ‘look at me’ cue and his timing makes the Swiss railway system look haphazard by comparison. If you get a chance to see this show do so, and while you’re there, check out the FoH system that he uses to control the entire visual show, before he packs it all away in a small zipper bag.”
“I have to say I’m constantly impressed by the level of support we get on this relatively small tour compared to the size of some of the shows Bandit supplies,” said Wheatley. “The rig is thoroughly prepped and checked before it leaves the shop to ensure that it goes into the first venue easily and stress free, which is always welcome when we arrive from a ten-hour flight from the UK just a matter of hours before the truck doors open! Bandit techs Jon Houle and Patrick Cowden take as much care over this rig as I know they do with the far larger tours they also work on.”
10th November 2016
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