Blackburn, UK based lighting rental company, HSL is supplying a substantial 'extras package' for Arcade Fire's summer European Festival tour, with lighting and set designed by Susanne Sasic, which is the latest leg of an ongoing world tour for their hugely acclaimed number one "The Suburbs" album, which was released in 2010.
It is the first time that HSL has worked with Sasic, who has a reputation for innovative and interesting designs. HSL Project manager Mike Oates says, "We are extremely pleased to be working with Susanne, who is known for her exceptional creative flair and style. The design looks stunning and in addition to that, the whole visuals package has been very well thought out to make it practical and tourable".
Looking after all the kit is Rob Starksfield, a regular HSL technician, who has also worked with Sasic on previous projects including REM.
Sasic's overall design has evolved with the different sections of the tour and on this one started with the set, which is modern and grey - and excellent for taking light and colour. It consists of a 30 foot-wide upstage custom shaped riser for the keyboards and drum kits, creating a neat and tidy centrepiece.
Grey split-drapes are used to frame both sides of three centrally located onstage screens and there is also a set of grey bunting style flags draped around, all of which combine to give the stage a quirky filmic appearance. The video material - produced by Richie Stembridge - adds a further cinematic tone to the overall visuals.
Underneath the riser is a row of nine i-Pix BB4 LED wash fixtures, which blast through the textilene mesh fabric masking its front.
There are 15 VARI*LITE VLX LED wash lights, six on an overhead truss, used for the basic general stage, riser and band washes and nine on the floor. Sasic likes these for the quality of light and the wide range of colours they can produce, especially some of the more off-beat hues like acidic green and gassy orange. Specific colours for certain parts of the show are a strong element of the overall aesthetics.
On the floor are eight Jarags, six positioned upstage behind the riser and two downstage left and right shooting across the front. Run in six-channel mode, Sasic uses some of their inbuilt effects and particularly likes to create a glowy, footlight low-level wash across the front and utilise the jaunty pin wheel effects of the rear ones.
There are 11 Atomic strobes, four on the floor and seven on the three mini-beam trusses, together with 15 Martin Professional MAC 101 LED units. Two trusses are flown stage left and right with the third underneath the lowest screen. Sasic makes the most of the speed, lightness and brightness of the 101s with a collection of zappy, sparkly club style looks and effects.
There are also four four-lamp bars containing ETC PARnels, two used as side washes across the set and the other two focussed on the drapes flanking the screens upstage.
For control, HSL is supplying 2 grandMA series 1 consoles - a main and a backup - which is currently Sasic's desk of choice, plus 19 points of rigging to fly all the lighting and the three touring onstage Pixled LED screens that come from XL Video.
Sasic comments that HSL have been "Excellent" as suppliers. Although it was her first time working with them, she was confident as the company was highly recommended by Starksfield. HSL is also supplying another technician, Tom Scott for the festival tour, which is currently completing its final UK and European dates.