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HSL Enjoys the Global Spirit of Depeche Mode
Worldwide – Depeche Mode are not ‘down on their knees begging us to adore them’right now, it’s absolutely the other way around on the “Global Spirit” world tour!
The beautifully designed, record breaking, box-office busting tour kicked off in Stockholm in May 2017 and is currently scheduled to continue until the third quarter of 2018. It sees the band – and the genre-defying incendiary live performances keeping them at the cutting-edge of ‘cool’ for four decades – enjoying more global adulation, success and critical acclaim than ever.
Blackburn-based HSL is the worldwide lighting vendor for ”Global Spirit” which plays a mix of stadiums and arenas embracing every continent, working with a highly talented team on the road headed by production manager Tony Gittins.
The eye-catching asymmetric lighting design was created by Sooner Routhier and Robert Long of SRae Productions in Nashville and is being directed on the road by their associate LD, Manny Conde.
The stylishly industrial production design was imagined by the band’s creative director Anton Corbijn, who has always pioneered video as an essential vehicle of live production. This is no exception with a large video screen upstage.
The elegance and depth of Anton’s movies sets a powerful visual aesthetic defining the performance space. The pureness and simplicity of this cinematic approach has been a Depeche Mode visual trademark developed over the tours and the eras.
This, coupled with lead singer Dave Gahan’s presence and charisma, plus the sheer dynamics of the music means Depeche Mode have never needed an elaborate set or a series of gags. The raw performance is what makes their shows so special.
HSL’s project manager looking after the tour is Jordan Hanson who comments: “It’s brilliant to be working with Tony, Sooner, Manny and an amazing production with a great band that is literally the tour of the moment and the one the industry is talking about!”
Chiefing the HSL crew on the road is one of HSL’s most experienced and unfazable regular freelancers, Ian Stevens. He is joined by the excellent Jake Jevons, Harrison Cooke, Ben Eastham and Andy Whittaker.
Ian comments: “We are having an incredible time on the road.I know you hear people say this sometimes on a long tour, but this really is like family! We all get on incredibly well, there is no inter-departmental rivalry and everyone is skilled, dedicated and great at their jobs, as well as being super nice!”
The lighting rig is more complex that it might appear at first glance, there are a lot of moving elements and it requires plenty of attention to detail to get it looking just right in the different variations. “We are all very proud of how it looks and the part it plays in bringing great entertainment value to many fans,” concludes Ian.
The lighting crew has fluctuated between five and two depending on the format of the rig in relation to the leg and regional location of the tour. Most of the time it’s all five. For sections like the upcoming Latin American leg, it will be Ian and Jake teching the full floor package with the top rig being provided locally in each of the six countries on the itinerary.
HSL’s MD Simon Stuart commented: “We are delighted to be working with Tony and his team on this ground-breaking tour and it’s been a real pleasure to collaborate with Sooner and Manny and ensure they have had all the support they need. The design is innovative, edgy and looks incredible. I love Sooner’s thoughtful, intelligent approach, where everything is considered and works harmoniously with the video, capturing the mood perfectly. The band are on top form as always.”
For Tony Gittins having a single lighting vendor for the whole tour has not just made sense financially, it’s made the whole process more efficient in terms of the equipment maintenance and having it permanently pre-prepped at HSL for the duration of the tour.
“Having the continuity of one supplier to work with for lighting, a familiar crew and a dedicated office co-ordinating everything at base ensures we get the best attention at all times” he comments, adding that “It’s been a fantastic experience working with HSL.”
Manny, based in New York and Los Angeles, is loving this tour for multiple reasons, from being trusted with realising and maintaining Sooner and Robert’s design to working for the first time with an all-English lighting crew, which has been another enriching and educational journey.
That aside: “Ian Stevens is most definitely my ‘peace-of-mind’ on the tour; he keeps everything exceptionally well organised, ensures the rig is maintained to the highest standards and that the crew are absolutely rock solid,” he asserts.
photos: Louise Stickland
22nd February 2018
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