The legendary Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra embarked on a seasonal tour of the UK in the fall of 2022, backed by a ‘big band’ lighting design by Paul Fairfield. His vision for the show alternated from upbeat rock ‘n’ roll large looks to smooth solo instrument key lighting using Vari-Lite VL2600 Profile luminaires.
The VL2600 Profile fixtures were supplied by Pearce Hire, which was the first company in the world to invest in them back in 2018. “We knew the VL2600s were just perfect for the needs of the Jools Holland tour,” says Fairfield. “The consistency of the smooth light output from the LED engine across the rig versus a discharge fixture was a game changer.”
For the tour, Fairfield specified 20 VL2600 Profiles in the standard rig, with a further six going out for the flagship show at London’s magical Royal Albert Hall. Eight were used as key light on the front truss, which Fairfield said, “worked great as I use iris, framing shutters and the brilliant zoom range to achieve great key light without spilling out to monitors and mic stands, and so on.” A further six VL2600 Profiles were hung on the mid truss and another six on the back truss.
“There were around 27 numbers during the show and by end of it; I’d pretty much used every trick the VL2600s have to offer,” Fairfield continued. “The gobo range is really good, especially when used with some zoom effects. The beams in the smoke are really crisp and with just the 12 overhead, I could encase the whole big band in a break-up curtain of light.
“The zoom range verses the intensity of the VL2600s also really impressed. When you zoom out, you usually see a reduction in intensity, but the light output doesn’t seem to reduce as much on the VL2600 Profile. The dimmer curve is also very impressive.”
Fairfield says he was free to design the lighting for the show as he wished, taking into account that the ‘big band’ feel of the show required dynamic looks for the songs that go big, involving all 16 performers in action, but also needed moody and textured looks for the slower numbers.
“I adopted an approach of really paying attention to the musicality of the numbers to highlight the sections of the band relative to the song and where the audience focus should be,” adds Fairfield. “Having a fixture like the VL2600 Profile that can do everything from key light to strong color looks to nice break up beams was perfect.”
Pearce Hire’s John Huson commented: “The VL2600s were our first foray into LED moving profiles, and they’ve been a successful part of Pearce Hire’s inventory. Paul Fairfield is using them to the max and creating some great looks; we are really pleased to have invested in them.”