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Now or Never for HSL with Halsey
Europe – This was definitely a ‘now’ as leading UK lighting and visual rental company HSL supplied lighting equipment for the recent UK and European leg of Halsey’s ongoing “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” tour.
The referral originally came through John Schirmer at DCR Nashville, lighting vendor for the US sections of the tour which started in 2017. Another connection was production designers Sooner Routhier and Robert Long from SRae Productions, with whom HSL worked for over a year as worldwide lighting supplier for Depeche Mode’s 2017-18 “Global Spirit” world tour.
The Halsey project was managed for HSL by Jordan Hanson who commented: “Working with John Schirmer, production manager Jimi Storey and lighting director / operator on the road Jose Antunes has been a pleasure, great show and great people!”
He worked closely with Jose to match their original lighting specification.
A key aesthetic feature of this visually edgy and interesting show, is the central LED staircase set piece that continues from two video screens sitting at the top of it. The staircase forms the main performance area, an idea germinated from Sooner’s observation that the artist negotiated stairs in a unique and very fluid way during her performances, and most of the lighting positions relate to it.
Obviously from a design perspective, the idea on different legs of the tour is to replicate a show which, even when re-scaled to fit different venues, is close to the original concept that was designed to play US arenas.
The initial show programming which was completed by Andre Petrus, proved to be extremely complex with Andre utilising the full range every feature on all of the fixtures.
When touring different versions of the design it is still imperative to keep the lighting rig the same to preserve the integrity of the design. HSL was able to match the US floor package exactly.
This comprised Robe Spiiders positioned on the sides of the steps for low level crosslight and behind the band members upstage, plus eight Claypaky Scenius profiles which were upstage of the set, concealed beneath the video wall. All these were chosen by Sooner and Robert and programmed into the full-scale show.
The stair Spiiders provided excellent side washes for Halsey and dancer TT and were also ideally placed to fan out into the crowd, while those behind the band created a constant dramatic silhouette of the musicians when zoomed out together with additional high-impact fanned out looks with the beams.
The upstage Sceniuses meantime created “beautiful, dreamy beams and aerial effects” throughout the show, making the set look “truly massive and powerful” explained Jose.
Another single Scenius strategically placed upstage centre between the video walls produced a very theatrical divine-light effect, used sparingly from the intro sequence of “Eyes Closed” with Halsey’s silhouetted against a white Kabuki drop, to the end of “Hurricane” as she walks offstage towards its big fat beam of luminosity.
Jose loves the Spiiders for their “incredible brightness, tight beam and highly versatile pixel mapping”, while he thinks the Scenius is a “profile that packs a punch and is full of tricks, with every bell and whistle is used in this show.”
He says with confidence that having also teched both types of fixtures during the full rig set up in the US (with Craig Rutherford in the lighting director’s role), that they are work-horses he’d be happy to spec on other shows.
For this Euro leg of the tour, HSL supplied Matt Brown as crew to assist Jose as a working LD.
They hooked in to a top rig each day which was supplied by the local promoter, which was specified as 24 Spiiders and 24 Scenius to complement the ground package. This was exactly what was supplied at most shows, with Robe BMFL Spots occasionally replacing the Sceniuses.
Jose’s biggest challenge in Europe was recreating some of the looks originally programmed into 36 x 12 cell Flare LR strips on the full show’s main flown rig, which could not be used at any of the European shows due to trim heights, weight restrictions or overall availability at some venues.
In a festival scenario they they will often just have strobes instead of these, so this time he found himself replacing those potential 432 pixels with sometimes as few as 12 cells in total.
“These circumstances gave me a chance to program some really clever cloning macros that inserted certain data exactly where I wanted it, when I wanted it. I also took advantage of the many pixels in the Spiiders when I had the chance.” In this version of the rig, he’d clone the cell data (used in a verse that was missing due to not having the Flares) into the flown Spiiders that had been “waiting patiently” until the chorus came in.
“The further challenge was then making these changes work whilst maintaining the style and effect of the original programming.”
This part of the tour was the first time Jose has worked with HSL, which has been a highly positive experience.
“It’s been a wonderful fit! We worked closely with Jordan in specifying the rig and he made it all happen. The level of professionalism and detailed organisation was impressive, and I walked into our first gig knowing it would be fully up to spec and that HSL delivered everything we needed.”
Matt was also a big hit: “I came out of this tour with a new friend and I definitely hope to have him out again next time I’m in Europe,” declares Jose, who is a freelance LD based in Vancouver, Canada.
“Matt was incredibly thorough and knowledgeable,” stated Jose, adding that and the application of his skills and experience enabled their load-ins to be quick and seamless, and they were also the first department to be packed up and back in the truck at the end of the night.
“From day one I was extremely impressed with the level of attention and care put into the prep for this run, especially as it was a short one! The rig could have toured another two years and still been intact. That is how well it was prepped,” he concluded.
photos: Peter Don
24th October 2018
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