Vari-Lite’s VL10 BEAMWASH is delivering a dynamic performance on the UK and European tour by British singer songwriter Tom Odell.
Lighting designer Joe Beardsmore is among the first lighting designers in the world to use the VL10 BEAMWASH on a touring show. “The VL10 honestly blew me away,” he says. “I thought it would be a compromise somewhere along the line, but no - I would happily use it for any dedicated application.”
Lighting the stripped-back set, without video screens and only reversible red or cream drapes as a backdrop, he employs a range of techniques to enhance Odell’s performance. As the tempo changes, he moves from single spots and precise, slow-moving effects to the full-on, powerful toolkit of effects for the rockier numbers. “Finding units that can do a simple, crisp, very slowly rotating gobo, but can also be super-bright and super-smooth when moving at speed, or performing quick color chases, is really important,” said Beardsmore.
Impressed by the VL10’s output quality and dynamic effects capability, Beardsmore comments, “The optics are the first thing that hits you: the quality and smoothness of the beam effects, and the brightness, even at wide zoom, is really impressive.”
He adds, “The dual prism gives some great effects, especially when spinning in different directions - fantastic for air effects. Between the two gobo wheels and the VL*FX wheel, there is an endless supply of gobos, and not just for rock and roll: I can really see this working well for theatre shows, especially with the great fine adjustment on the beam shapes.”
Beardsmore has worked with Odell for two years, developing a strong collaborative rapport with the artist. “Tom trusts me to complement his show with my best design ideas. For this tour, I wanted to add some more theatrical elements, to supplement some of the quieter songs in particular. On the UK leg I used six VL10s on the rear truss for big looks, scaling down to single spots for each band member, and punching up for big beam looks and bright washes for the rockier songs. I love that Tom is happy to have a dark stage. I like dropping down to a blackout between most songs, and then building again.”
The VL10’s flexibility helps Beardsmore to deliver a show rich in contrast and atmosphere, a fitting visual complement to Odell’s varied musical palette. And, as the UK tour transitions to Europe, Beardsmore will experiment further with the VL10’s impressive battery of effects. “In Europe I’ll be aiming for more flexibility,” he says. “On some shows they will go onto back- or mid-trusses in the air, while for others I’ll place them in an arc on the floor, for a mixture of mid-air effects and silhouette looks.”
Beardsmore concludes, “Other fixtures come nowhere near to the precise subtlety of this light. When we drop down to maybe one or two lights for a solo number, if I have a gobo rotating or animating, it needs to be super-smooth to not detract from the music - and the VL10 just delivers.”