Some bands lead, others follow. One look at a live performance by Mana, and it's easy to see that the Latino rock band is ahead of the curve. Lighting designer Sandro Pugia, lighting director Adrian Zurita and Mana designed a spectacular light show to convey the true, meaningful messages of the band's powerful music. The result is an all-out assault on the audience's emotions.
The success isn't going unnoticed. Many bands of the same genre, and other top artists throughout Europe where Mana has toured, have been influenced by the band's live performance and have incorporated many of the same theatrical-style looks and designs into their shows.
"In many countries, Mana is the trend-setter," Zurita said. "Many of the decision-makers for other artists come to see the live shows and take notes on the equipment. They are very impressed with the VARI*LITE® fixtures. They are the best lights and most reliable luminaires on the market."
For most of the current tour, Mana's automated lighting rig consisted of 28 VL2000 Wash luminaires and 16 VL2000 Spot units. In September, Zurita added 16 of the new 1200-Watt VL3000 Spot luminaires to the rig, which he uses for base lighting and for audience color. Mana purchased the fixtures from Pro-Color.
"Mana only wants to use the best equipment, and Vari-Lite is the best name in automated lighting," Zurita said. "I love the new Series 3000 luminaires."
Production manager Javier Barba says the desire to own and use Vari-Lite goes even deeper than the ability of the fixtures themselves. The VARI*LITE fixtures are a status symbol of prestige.
"When we started touring nearly 20 years ago, there was a legendary name in lights that everyone wanted to have and use. That was Vari-Lite," Barba said. "When Vari-Lite finally made their luminaires available for purchase, we came running to buy them. I have always believed that you get what you pay for. With Vari-Lite, you are getting great lights, outstanding service, the best technology and the biggest name in the industry. That is worth paying for."
After one demo of the Series 3000 fixtures, Barba and Zurita were both sold on the new fixtures.
"That was the most beautiful experience we've ever had," Barba said. "We were blown away by the intensity and smooth movement of the fixtures. The VL3000 luminaires allow you to do things that you just can't do with any other light."
Although Mana's songs are performed in Spanish, many of the fans who attend their shows are non-Spanish speaking. Because their songs contain thought-provoking messages, touching on topics such as ecological issues or justice and freedom for third world countries, it is important that the emotional theme is conveyed to the audience. Zurita uses the lighting and video to increase the impact of the songs.
"If there's a song talking about oppression in less-privileged countries, we don't want the audience screaming and celebrating," Zurita said. "We tried to create a live show that wasn't traditional concert lighting, but more of a theatrical performance. We want the audience to experience the emotion and not just flashing lights. We were able to hide some of the actual light fixtures with scenic elements so that it is more dramatic and theatrical. The audience response has been unbelievable, from both the Spanish speaking and non-Spanish speaking members."
Barba said that when the VL3000 Spot luminaires were added to the lighting rig, the show changed completely.
"Some lights hit the market and stay. The Series 3000 fixtures are here to stay," Barba said. "They have everything an LD needs. Within a very short time, the VL3000 luminaires will be the worldwide standard by which all other lights are measured."
Barba credits the successful product to Vari-Lite's extensive engineering, testing and research and development.
"Other companies tend to rush products to market before they are sure what they will do. They end up just giving you a lot of headaches," Barba said. "We went to the Vari-Lite factory, and it was amazing. What can I say, it's Vari-Lite."
Zurita had a slightly different take on his visit to Vari-Lite.
"It was like Disneyland to me," he said. "There was so much great stuff. For a lighting designer, it was a great place to be."
Some might say it is an example of complete sensory overload. Much like a Mana concert.