Features

TOM KENNY REVS UP THE VL3500 SPOT ON THE WHO’S US TOUR
 
Published Friday, December 14, 2012
by Philips Vari-Lite

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Respected rock lighting designer Tom Kenny is harnessing the versatile power of Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot luminaires to create a dramatic and evocative, “Quadrophenic” experience for fans attending The Who’s mammoth US tour this winter.

Kenny, sometimes referred to as "lighting designer to the stars", brings a theatrical and beautifully crafted design to the 37-date tour, which visits almost every major city in North America.

“I used the VL3500 Spot luminaires on this tour primarily for their reliability and excellent output. Also it’s a no smoke or haze tour, so I needed a source that can effectively cut through our clever and powerful video system. I've designed the show, like all my shows with high video content, to ensure lighting and video is conveyed as a cohesive visual event.”

This current realization of the album “Quadrophenia” is a 21st Century version of the classic rock album, but with very familiar themes of darkness and loneliness. Kenny’s lighting is therefore a departure from the usual massive beams and powerful display of lighting that The Who fans are used to. This time it supports and bookends all aspects of the cleverly designed video content, which is displayed on three circular screens that backdrop the band and give context to the music.

In many ways the use of color is understated, however where Kenny does use it, it’s vibrant and punchy. He continued, “The VARI-LITE color palette has definitely allowed me to add the sprinklings of color that I wanted to in the arenas. I always love the color and beam size on the VL3500 Spot so they always make up the majority of my main workhorse luminaires."

Having designed for the likes of David Byrne, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Page and Plant and David Bowie along with a host of other big-time acts, Kenny became The Who's official lighting designer in the late 1980s and has since worked on numerous tours DVDs and video's.

During the show, The Who perform their 1973 album “Quadrophenia” in full, including the boiling tea kettle and British newscast before ‘The Punk and the Godfather’ and the squawking seagulls that precede ‘Sea and Sand’. With themes of darkness and loneliness Kenny’s extremely evocative and cleverly crafted lighting design works with the video, and lends itself perfectly to each and every song.

The VARI-LITE luminaires along with the rest of the lighting system are being supplied by PRG. The tour kicked off at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, in November and will stop in venues across North America finishing in Providence, Rhode Island in February 2013. Just over one month in and the tour is garnering rave reviews. Rolling Stone magazine calls it ‘triumphant’; the NY Times praises the music’s ‘delicate to explosive’ dynamics.


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