London based lighting designer Nick Gray of Renegade pulled out all the stops to create a glamorous, high altitude lighting scheme for UK rockers Kasabian who played a prestigious gig on top of a skyscraper in downtown New York for leading fashion brand, Mulberry.
The show - one of a series of events celebrating Mulberry's fortieth birthday - was staged on the rooftop of the Skylight West building in New York's Midtown district.
The recently renovated venue offers the largest private event rooftop space in the city and superlative panoramic views scanning the downtown area. Both Mulberry and Kasabian are regular clients of Gray and his creative live visual design company, Renegade.
Gray is used to working in unusual environments, and this one - coming a few days after another show aboard a disused 747 airliner - again galvanised his imagination to produce with a combination of spectacle and practicality. "I was immediately attracted to the basic rawness and industrial setting of the rooftop and surrounding architecture," explained Gray, which very much fits the style and aesthetics at the base of his designs for Kasabian.
He utilised the steel superstructure of a 60ft wide billboard that resides atop the building. After structural tests, this was used to hang a substantial proportion of the lighting rig, along with vertical trusses on floor bases which were installed at the back of the stage that was built in front of the billboard.
For moving lights, he specified eight Clay Paky Alpha Beam 300s, that were positioned along the back of the lowest vertical bar of the billboard and 6 VARI*LITE V*L 2500 Spots, two of which were on the underside of the back rail of the board, with four on the floor. Six V*L 2500 Washes were also rigged to the back rail, with another two each on the front left and right hand corners of the stage. Front light is always minimal for the band, who prefer powerful, heavy, moody back lighting and dramatic silhouetting as a visual benchmark.
A series of two-lite Moles were run up the centre of the vertical truss sections, together with eight Atomic strobes.
The rig was completed with two DF50 fog machines, controlled together with all the lighting through a Hog 3 console operated by Paul Kell (PK), a regular Renegade programmer/operator, who has also been involved with other Kasabian's warm up shows ahead of the release of their new 'Velociraptor!' album. All lighting equipment and technical production was sourced locally through Mulberry's event producers.
Gray was able to blend the contemporary look and feel of the setting with his edgy lighting in a provocative mix of atmosphere, energy and excitement for the show. It was a design evolution based on stark contrasty colours and precise beam work to augment Kasabian's potent, compelling live performances.
The show was a massive success and went down a storm with all the VIP guests causing a stir and a buzz around town.
However, the New York Police Department were not quite so impressed ...... asking for the volume to be turned down twice during the band's set - from which we can deduce that they thought the lighting was cool!