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Gorillaz: not to be mist
Europe – “In the beginning, we didn’t know how the tour would be received. It’s been quite some time since the last one,” was how Gorillaz lighting designer Matt Pitman voiced a common anxiety that afflicts artists and producers alike. They needed have no fear there: Gorillaz latest outing has proved one of the must-see events of 2017. The band, production and technology have all conspired to present something so much more than a bunch of musicians in front of a giant TV screen.
“Joel’s remit to me was to give the show something better than they’d had before,” Pitman continued, referring to the show’s production manager, Joel Stanley. “We did our first show at the Printworks in London back in March. It was a one-off in a small venue but Joel gave us a generous production budget. He hasn’t turned down any of my technical requests at any point since, with lighting or video, and it’s the same in all departments. We have grown the production to where we are now.”
Where they are now is the end of a run through European arenas, culminating in two nights at London’s O2.
“The tour started off with some warm-ups,” confirms Stanley. “Back then we carried a small production which eventually grew as we added flown scenic elements of video, more lights and so on; by the time we’d done three months in the US across the summer, the production was fully developed.”
Coming to Europe has prompted some changes, not least a new PA system supplied by Entec in collusion with their trans-Atlantic partners Brown Note, much to the delight of long time FoH engineer Matt Butcher. And a complete change in video, courtesy of Video Design. “Coming to Europe with a different video supplier, somehow all felt very familiar,” said Stanley. “I think we have had one little niggle since day one and that got sorted very quickly; in that sense, the support has been excellent.”
Pitman had a background in concert video before coming to lighting design, as such he has an innate understanding of how the two mediums can best complement one another. “For Gorillaz we just have a large upstage wall of high-def LED and an IMAG screen each side of stage fed by a nice little camera package and PPU from Video Design. There are 13 performers in the band plus guests; for that reason the rig looks very straightforward, four trusses across stage, a bit of side and back light, back video wall, some risers. That’s the only way so many performers and their stuff can be accommodated and give them the room to work. Dylan Etherington is our camera director. We had some conversations about IMAG and he is extremely competent, relieving me of that burden. The original Jamie Hewlett produced content material we use can present large areas of solid colour at intense levels, or even white so we needed to temper the lumen output from the back wall, something we now do live in show with Glen Jenkins our touring d3 operator, riding a fader.”
As the tour approached the final shows before Christmas, Stanley expressed his satisfaction: “Alex Leinster from Video Design came out to our production build and first show in Luxemburg to make sure everything was OK, which was great. The crew are great and it all feels very familiar which is just what you want.”
photos: Tony Wooliscroft
5th January 2018
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