London, UK – Responsible for providing the live stage lighting for British pop sensation Charli XCX’s current world tour, lighting designer Elliott Mountford is enjoying the power and consistency of the VL2600 PROFILE luminaire from Vari-Lite’s latest family of high-performance LED moving heads. “Her new album is very experimental, so I wanted to try something that would have massive ups and downs,” says Mountford.
The current tour is in support of Charli XCX’s third studio album Charli, which underpins the show’s design concept. Acclaimed for its experimentation and diverse collaborations (with artists including HAIM, Troye Sivan and Christine and the Queens, to name but a few) the album demanded a show that varied at every turn. “I had to create a totally different aesthetic for every song, as each was so very different,” says Mountford.
Having worked closely with both Charli and her creative director, Jed Skrzypczak, throughout the summer, Mountford knew that the lighting had to reflect the artist’s high energy performance and varied music styles. However, this had to be achieved within certain limits. “Charli hates key light,” says Mountford, “so most of my show is backlit, with a very silhouetted look. I love big, backlit looks in white, but they have to be super-wide for every audience member to see the effect.”
In achieving this, Mountford was impressed by the powerful, 19,000 lumen output and wide (7-48˚) zoom range of the VL2600 PROFILE. “The brightness and the zoom were insane – like, insane,” he emphasizes.
“It’s such a flat-fielded fixture and for its size, it’s pretty remarkable.”
With one VL2600 PROILE flown and one on the floor upstage center, plus another four providing side-light, the fixtures delivered throughout the show, successfully enhancing Charli’s stage presence. “I wanted great contrast between the lights and the rest of the rig - we had 100-plus strobes that they had to compete with,” says Mountford. “The fixtures also needed to be super-responsive, as a lot of the hits are short and timecoded, frame-perfect. They cut through everything I had on. My side-lights were workhorses for making sure Charli was illuminated, even during the brightest scenes.”
Asked if the VL2600 PROFILES had met his expectations, Mountford says, “Yes, they certainly met expectations. They went above and beyond to impress me each time I used them in the show. They totally out-performed any other similarly-sized spot that I’ve used.”
The Charli Live world tour is set to conclude on 5 April 2020 in São Paulo, Brazil.