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Zac Coren lights Morgan Wallen ‘One Night at a Time’ stadium tour with Elation Proteus
USA – Morgan Wallen has become a country music superstar in an unbelievably short time. Just years from debuting, he dominates the country music charts with a pair of albums that remain in the Billboard Top 10. His 2023 release, “One Thing at a Time,” topped the chart for an impressive 15 weeks! Wallen’s current “One Night at a Time” stadium tour reflects his meteoric rise with an expanded production design by Zac Coren that includes Elation Proteus luminaires.
Being an outdoor stadium tour, IP-rated lighting fixtures were a must and Zac turned to three fixtures in the proven Proteus series: Proteus Rayzor Blade linear FX bars, Proteus Hybrid moving heads and Proteus Rayzor 760 LED wash effects.
The tour launched in March in Australia and New Zealand with a North American leg that kicked off in Milwaukee in April and is selling out at virtually every stop. Event production company Premier Global Production out of Nashville serves as lighting vendor for the North American outing.
Zac has been with Wallen for nearly five years and says the current stadium tour is the biggest the country artist has done to date. “We wanted to create something that feels as big as he is right now,” the designer stated. “So we brought in some elements that we’ve wanted to add for a while but didn’t have the opportunity to use until now like more pyro, lasers and a larger lighting rig. We really put together a show the way we have always wanted.”
Zac serves as production designer and lighting director with programming by Will Flavin and AJ DiCarlo and creative direction by Cort Lawrence and Anders Rahm. Zac states that they intentionally steered clear of designing a set-up that was overly specific as they didn't want to be constrained by a certain look. Instead, they aimed for something versatile enough to adapt to the singer-songwriter’s growing catalogue of music, which covers everything from down-home country hits and intimate moments to upbeat party songs and more rock type numbers.
Creative director Cort Lawrence worked alongside Raw Cereal partner Anders Rahm to oversee the collaboration of various production departments to develop the concert's overall concept and theme and bring the show to life. “Our collective goal is to deliver an engaging and immersive experience, creating a cohesive and visually stunning live performance that reflects Morgan Wallen's brand and deeply connects with the crowd,” Cort stated, adding that the show is inspired by the artist’s journey, authenticity, and connection with fans. “The main story we wanted to tell was a reflection of Morgan Wallen's growth as an artist, capturing the essence of his music and the emotions behind his songs.”
The design is a seamless fusion of contemporary and rustic elements, reflecting both Morgan Wallen's modern artistry and the heartfelt essence of country music. The overall design incorporates a sleek and dynamic linear look with clean lines that visually guide the audience's attention. Patterns and symmetry play a crucial role, adding depth and texture to the stage design and lighting effects.
Overhead are what appear to be four simple sticks of truss but it quickly becomes apparent they are much more than that. “The truss lines are automated which allows us to move them into different positions and create various shapes throughout the show,” Zac Coren comments. “We take what looks like a simple setup at the start of the show and then lower it to create different angles and shapes that complement the video and lighting elements. It adds a lot and keeps the rig feeling dynamic.”
The innovative use of automation allows the lighting design to evolve throughout the show, adapting to different songs and moments and creating an ever-evolving and visually captivating experience for the audience. Not only does the adaptable setup allow Zac to create custom looks for each song, it allowed him to make some eleventh hour looks just prior to the tour launch in March. He comments: “We were waiting for his new record to come out which it did right before we left for Australia, so we didn’t have a lot of time to digest his new music. Having that versatility, being able to create different positions, different moments and looks, was huge.”
A key fixture in the set-up and an important component in the versatile nature of the automated trusses is the Proteus Rayzor Blade, a multi-functional IP65-rated linear tilt FX bar. “You want a strobe on those trusses but you want something else as well, maybe a linear bar or Mole and we have it all in this one fixture,” Zac says of the linear light, which adds an extra layer of creativity and visual intrigue. “As the truss moves into different formations, we carve out ever-changing shapes and designs with them, and can use them for eye candy or to hit a specific moment in the music if need be. The amount of tricks you get from them is fantastic.”
The LED-based Proteus Rayzor Blade with zoom combines the traditional batten's form factor with cutting-edge technology, offering an impressive array of lighting features and capabilities. It can function as a wash, strobe or FX light and powers out up to 11,000 lumens. Two high-intensity strobe lines add extra impact and 210° tilt rotation allows them to position dynamically during a show.
They also include Elation’s proprietary SparkLED twinkle effect for added design choice. Cort comments: “They produce bright twinkling patterns that can be seen from every seat in the venue, enhancing the overall concert experience.” All of the overhead trusses, as well as a second structure on stage, are lined with Proteus Rayzor Blades, which work with a number of high-output lights in the rig that Zac says they hold up well against.
“There are a lot of looks where the Rayzor Blades complement the other fixtures,” he said. “On the song ‘I Wrote the Book’ for example, where the truss comes in to create an asymmetrical look, the Blades create a diamond shape cut out into the rig. Will Flavin and AJ DiCarlo did an excellent job in maximizing what every fixture could do and pulling out different tricks with them to make them feel new throughout the show.”
Zac selected the Proteus Hybrid moving heads as his preferred beam light for the show, which work from positions on the floor beside IMAG trusses. Additionally, he opted for Proteus Rayzor 760 LED wash effects mounted on an eight foot truss above the stage, which serve to provide wash effects on the band and create eye-catching visuals for the crowd.
By any measure, Wallen’s “One Night at a Time” tour has been a big success with fans treated to an unforgettable performance and mesmerizing production. It plays dates into November with some 2024 show dates already on the schedule.
photos: Danielle Marshall
22nd August 2023
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