With the first ever all-night dance party to be staged at Wembley Arena, superstar DJ Andy C achieved a personal ambition, delivering a high energy, six-hour set for thousands of revelers at this iconic London venue. To create the rich visual impact required of such a large-scale show, visual designer Simon Harris of Bryte Design took advantage of the power and unique looks of 24 Vari-Lite VL6000 BEAM fixtures.
“Having worked with Andy for about seven years, I was given a lot of creative freedom in putting together this design,” says Harris. “Playing Wembley was a lifelong ambition for Andy, so it had to be special. And with such a huge following on social media it was important that it looked the part for people watching online. People don’t just listen back to the show, they watch it, so for Andy it’s important that it looks unmistakably like an Andy C show.”
The key to this trademark look was Andy C’s iconic triangular LED screen structure, here created on a larger scale and at higher resolution than on previous shows. “Modern LED screens produce a lot of punch, so we needed lighting fixtures that would match or surpass that brightness level, to give us plenty of headroom,” says Harris.
Faced with these demands, the VL6000 BEAM was an attractive choice. “The VL6000 offers a beam like nothing else out there,” says Harris. “That iconic front lens gives the fixture an impressive presence on the rig and the light output and parallel beam really impress. They have such a unique look, they bring a different shape and form to the toolset. That was essential on a show like this, where the aim is to maintain the energy and diversity in looks over a long period of time.”
And this was indeed a very long set. Harris says, “A standard Andy C set of 90-120 minutes is a workout when operating light and video, and with an all-night set spanning up to six hours, that intensity isn’t reduced. So we have to design with a fixture spec that remains flexible throughout the night. The majority of the set is at around 170-180 bpm, so having a rig of lights that can complement the speed of the music and Andy’s renowned mixing, is paramount. Speed and brightness are important across the rig.”
The VL6000s were mounted above and in front of the stage, helping to frame and complement the triangular screen structure, as well as providing striking audience area illumination. “We used them on the audience lighting truss just in front of the stage for maximum impact,” says Harris. “In this position, they were some of the highest fixtures on the rig, but their super-bright, punchy beams really stood out above the output from the LED tiles above on the audience truss.”
He adds, “I love the beam, the output, and you can get some really interesting colors from the mixing system. They don’t deliver a crisp gobo - that’s not what they were designed for - but we spec’ them for those great, textured, aerial beam looks. We’ve used them on various shows since summer 2016, and they always impress.”
Working closely with Harris were the show’s technical director Mike Smith of Bryte Design, and lighting programmer Dom Adams. Lighting and video operators worked together throughout the night to balance lighting and video together as a single, complementary picture. Controlling the multi-layered, dynamic visual concoction was lighting operator Tim Fawkes, with assistance from Bryte Design’s Cate Carter; Green Hippo’s Nigel Sadler alternated with Harris on video control, and Ben Bailey-Cooke and Jon McMullan looked after lasers and effects. The lighting equipment was supplied by PRG, video systems by 80Six Ltd and lasers and SFX by MadeUp Ltd.