Features

VARI-LITE VL3500 WASH FX LUMINAIRES GIVE ELBOW A LEG UP
 
Published Monday, January 28, 2013
by Philips Vari-Lite

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Knight of Illumination Award-winner and imaginative lighting designer Cate Carter has harnessed the precise and powerful beam control of Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX luminaires to create a beautifully focused, and surprisingly intimate, show for Elbow at London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, provided by Lite Alternative.

“The VL3500 Wash FX provides me with both a powerful beam and even coverage for the stage wash,” explains Cate. “The range of the zoom allows me to use these fixtures in different capacities to fulfill multiple applications and also the quality of the color mixing gives me a really diverse palette, from which I can build many different looks.”

The design, a deconstructed yet no less imaginative version of the full production tour from the previous year, is both intimate and expansive and as expected not just restricted to the stage.

“The first consideration for me is always how the band wishes to present their show,” says Cate. “Guy (Garvey) likes to interact with the audience between songs and he likes to be able to get in amongst the crowd. It’s for this reason that we have the low catwalk and B-stage so the band can bring the performance out into the arena. During the songs themselves, the focus is entirely on their performance as a whole. This sometimes takes place on the main stage and sometimes on the B-stage and runway.”

In fact, enigmatic front-man Guy Garvey’s intimate connection with the audience is a key part of the band’s character and reputation. The main stage featured a stage-wide video screen while an impressive circular video screen topped off a thrust stage that stretched out into the stalls. Two long arms of truss stretched out into the audience while back on the main stage five curved trusses literally dripped with VARI-LITE VL3500 Wash FX luminaires.

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By opening up the stage and lighting rig to cover as much of the arena floor as possible, Cate’s aim is to make even the largest venues still feel intimate and get the crowd really involved with the show. However Cate’s design not only had to embrace full width stage and thrust but also the huge arena audiences, on occasion right up to the top tier back row. Lighting was regularly used to bring the audience closer to the action and to support the remarkably intimate relationship between Garvey and Elbow spectators, regardless of where they were sitting.

“I chose the VL3500 Wash FX because I knew I could fly these at high trims and still have plenty of power to illuminate the stage,” says Cate. “The wide zoom range made them ideal for lighting small areas without spilling unwanted light onto set pieces but it also meant I could get a really wide cover across the audience when I needed it. I also really like the fact that when not using the VL3500FX as a wash light, I have a range of gobo effects to work with which come into their own during other parts of the show.”

Color, pattern and angle reflected the vibrant color and content of the video images bringing a strong sense of time, dimension and context to each song, some of which resulted in huge stage wide panoramas and big audience sweeps and by contrast others were intimate spot lit sessions.

The Build a Rocket Boys! Tour is Elbow’s fifth major tour and supports their fifth studio album of the same name. It kicked off in Europe in March 2011 and was followed by a full-production show in the United Kingdom and Australasia and continued around the world throughout 2012. The December O2 event marked one of the bands biggest gigs to date and followed dates in Manchester’s MEN Arena, the Echo Arena in Liverpool, and Wembley Arena.


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