Bath, United Kingdom - The Bath Festival Finale Weekend - a two-day live music spectacular - brought a fitting end to a much-needed public celebration of the arts via the culmination of back-to-back rock and pop concerts at Bath Recreation Ground.
And while the threat of COVID still looms - UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro pulled out of the show only to be replaced by the legendary Billy Ocean at short notice - both life in the UK, and summer festival dates, are going full steam ahead for many.
Which is exactly what McFly’s touring party did, as the Brit punk poppers took to the stage and reunited fans in all their excitement in a typically British, rainy field. Would we have it any other way?
The band were in good company too, with Scooby snack munching Fun Lovin’ Criminals and ‘90s soul icon Gabrielle making up just part of the star-studded bill.
With McFly’s set prepped and ready for the masses, it was a chance for Enlightened Lighting’s Dave Thorpe, the festival’s lighting vendor, to deploy their newly purchased VL2600 PROFILE and WASH fixtures and VL10s for both the in-house festival rig and the visiting engineers.
Thorpe comments: “When we bought the VL2600s and the VL10s it was our first foray into the larger moving light market. We looked at a lot of brands, but we wanted something that stood out above the rest. At the demo we were struck by the quality of the fixture build and the quality of light that comes out of the front.”
Eager to see how they performed for festival lighting designer Nic Ayres and McFly’s visiting lighting designer, Chris Yeomans, the new inventory didn’t disappoint in action.
Yeomans comments: “This is the first time I have come across the VL2600s and the VL10s in a festival rig and they are fantastic, I definitely want to use them again. The fixtures were incredibly bright, even during the morning’s programming session. The standard features, color mixing, gobo selection, prism layering, zoom range, and overall output, far surpassed anything I’ve used so far this festival season."
“For me, versatility from fixtures is key for festival rigs, I prefer having hybrid fixtures cross-over fixture types, such as wash beams, as they make for a more interesting show by offering a range of effects from one unit. It also makes for a cleaner looking, more uniform rig. The VL10 BEAMWASH and VL2600 PROFILE offered a huge range of possibilities from two fixture types.”
“It was a delight to use the VL2600 WASH and PROFILE fixtures and the VL10 BEAMWASH luminaires on this production,” adds Ayres, who used the VL2600s as key light and spectacular effects for the audience. The colors are great - they certainly don’t look or feel like LED and although the fixtures can be a bit channel hungry that does make them all the more flexible, which is crucial in a festival situation.”
The rig was designed as a traditional Spot and Wash set up with the super bright and versatile VL10 BEAMWASH luminaires taking care of backlight gobos from the rig.
“What is great about the VL10s is that they work as a beam, a wash and as a spot, which is brilliant on such a small stage and with such limited time to program,” Ayres continues. “None of the acts bring in any set, except maybe a backdrop. The atmosphere is all coming from the artist and from the lights augmenting the mood of the performance, with a bit of haze thrown in for good measure.”
“The VL10s are perfect for on stage gobo or aerial beam effects through haze. To have dual overlaying prisms, an aperture wheel, rotating gobo wheel and an FX wheel in such a compact and bright fixture is a real achievement. During the day I have been using the overhead VL10s in full zoom and they still fill a gap and read well in sunny daylight, which is impressive,” he concludes.
As the Bath Festival Finale drew to a roaring close, Vari-Lite didn’t simply shine a light - albeit impressively - on the stage and across the delighted crowds, they shone on something much far more telling, the return to live music and mass gatherings without restriction. With the right technology, skills and ambition, uniting people with music for unforgettable human experiences is something festival season delivers like no other time of the year.