West London, UK, based rental company Entec Sound & Light supplied lighting equipment and crew for Portishead's recent and highly acclaimed UK and European festival tour, in the process renewing their excellent working relationship with lighting designer Tony "Beamer" Austin - and undertaking their first touring work for semi-legendary UK production and tour manager, Mick Brown.
Says Entec's project manager Noreen O'Riordan, "It was a fabulous tour to work on - Beamer's design was highly effective, well thought-through and quick to rig which pleased most festival organisers. It was great to work with Mick for the first time, Mick produced a very successful tour with a great vibe".
Beamer has been lighting the band since mid 1990s, soon after their career took off, and has been working on various projects with Entec dating back about 8 years, and more specifically, several in the last 3 or 4 years, including Portishead's short 2008 tour. "I was very happy to be using them again," he says.
The aesthetics of the design for this one were based on the band's preference for minimal front lighting and a low brightness ambience. There was also an upstage projection screen that needed careful consideration to allow John Minton's visuals show to take its place in the stage space and action.
Beamer and Minton will discuss his visual material ahead of the tours, giving a starting point for the lighting, and for how the two elements can be combined and merged into a nice coherent aesthetic.
Beamer chose Martin Professional MAC 2Ks as the main moving lights - 20 Profiles with custom gobos and 10 Washes distributed between two overhead trusses and on the deck.
A row of 8 iPix BB4 wash lights ran across stage behind the band and Source Fours on the front truss were used for gentle key lighting.
In addition to the lighting rig for their own headline shows, the design allowed them to 'break out' a floor specials package that was taken into the various festivals they played, including some of the best of the established and hottest of the upcoming in Europe - Benicàssim, Exit, Roskilde, etc.
The floor package consisted of the 8 BB4s, 8 x Martin Stagebar 2s the latest and greatest addition to the Martin range which up-lit the band from the front creating a subtle LED source 'footlight' effect and four 5Kw fresnels with barn doors, all on Manfrotto stands, which were positioned around the corners of the stage for a cosy, all embracing tungsten effect.
Completing the floor package were four MAC 2K Washes on the floor, stage left and right, used for atmospheric low level cross stage blasts of lighting and colour, together with four MAC 2K Profiles on the floor upstage of the risers and another four on Spotlight stands about 6 ft high.
Back on the overhead rig there were 6 bars of 6 PARs on the back truss to reinforce the general rear lighting, and on the front truss were another 6 MAC 2K washes, four MAC 2K Profiles and 8 Source Four profiles - reduced to six as the tour progressed!
It was a very precise rig. As the band prefer static and uncomplicated looks the focus of attention is on the music. It's essential for lighting to be sensitive and harmonious, so movement and gobo effects are used only in one song, "Mysterons" - with massive dramatic impact!
It is a tightly programmed show, but the console - in this case a grandMA for the full show and an Avo Pearl for the festival rig - was set up so he could manually ride the intensities on all the faders and presets for improvisational moments and those times where he needed to change that parameter on the fly.
Entec supplied three crew for the tour - John Lahiffe, Urko Arruzza and Niall Hannell.
Beamer comments, "As usual, everyone on the Entec team was brilliant - all really helpful and friendly. The family atmosphere, excellent people and the wealth of knowledge and expertise offered by the company all help to make it a special experience".
Mick Brown, adds, "Being the new boy on tour (all the previous crew except one were available for the tour), I was very grateful to Noreen for helping and her previous knowledge of 'all things Portishead' which was invaluable. This was the band's first festival tour for some time, and getting the lighting right was very important. "
On working with Entec for the first time he says, "I would not hesitate to do so again. While it wasn't a big rig from Entec, having the right gear, crew and advance information in good time and detail from them was crucial".
He concludes, saying that these particular shows have been generally hailed - by local festival production managers - as some of "the best" ever by the band.
For more press info on Entec, please call Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888 or Email ‘[email protected]'. To contact Entec direct, call +44 (0)20 8842 4004 or check www.entec-soundandlight.com.