The Rolling Stones have embarked on their Zip Code Tour visiting 15 cities in North America from the kick off in San Diego in May to the wrap in Quebec City in July. The band's lighting rig features Clay Paky Mythos, Sharpy Washes and Robert Juliat Lancelot followspots; grandMA2 lighting consoles and ChainMaster chain motors are also on hand. All are brands distributed exclusively in North America by A.C.T Lighting, Inc.
"The band is playing as well as I've ever seen them," says Ethan Weber, who was crew chief for the Stones in 1994-95 and became their lighting director in 1998, a post he still holds today. The majority of shows on the tour are in stadiums, though they have mixed in a couple of festivals and a theater show in Los Angeles, where the band played the entire "Sticky Fingers" album.
"The venues have been more consistent on this leg than on most in the past couple of years," Weber says. "Not as many clones or fixture changes have been needed on the grandMA2." Patrick Woodroffe of Woodroffe Bassett Design is the lighting designer/creative director for the tour, Terry Cook associate lighting designer and Miriam Bull studio associate.
Upstaging, Inc., headquartered in Sycamore, Illinois, is supplying the theatrical lighting and equipment trucking for the tour as it has for the band's last several tours. New this year are 44 Clay Paky Mythos fixtures, 32 of them mounted on trusses over the stage and six on each of the two wings.
"Mythos are very versatile-possible to use as an effect or wash light, and bright enough to compete with the three video walls and other wash lights in the system," says Weber. "I had heard about Mythos from a trusted friend and looked forward to trying them out. Upstaging doesn't carry our old effects light, but did have Mythos in stock; so Patrick and Terry opted to make the change. I've been very happy with them so far."
John Huddleston, director of stage lighting services at Upstaging, reports that the Mythos fixtures have been very popular. "They're a new tool for designers; they tick every box: powerful, compact, fast, extremely bright and packed with features. Mythos is what everybody has been looking for."
Fourteen Clay Paky Sharpy Washes help to light the fascias, which surround the video walls designed by Stu Fish and built by Tait Towers. The big screens are located left, right and center onstage; they're framed by golden fascia lined interior and exterior with LED strips.
Weber explains: "The Stones are, of course, famous for their fairly large shows, but in the end it's about the music and the bands' performance. In lighting them, we try never to take away from that. The goal is to make sure all the band members are lit and to give them an interesting environment to play in."
Eight Robert Juliat 4000W HTI Lancelot followspots serve as "bright and reliable" FOH spotlights, Weber says. "The Lancelots are the highest end large touring followspot you can buy - nothing's better," adds Huddleston. "They set up and take down easier than any other in that class, too."
Half-ton, 1-ton and 2-ton chain motors from ChainMaster, a brand that "seems to be becoming the industry standard" according to Weber, are deployed on the tour.
Weber uses two grandMA2 full-size consoles for lighting control, one main system and one back up, and has a grandMA2 light onstage for testing the system at venues. "I've been using grandMA since 2007 after having a very bad experience with another brand," he recalls. "I switched to grandMA1 and loved it, then made the natural progression to grandMA2 a few years ago and have been extremely happy with it. It's always very comforting to know that there's worldwide support and a user network that's open to offering help and programming tips."
Huddleston says that "premium large-scale concert touring wants the bulletproof processing that grandMA2 provides. The grandMA2 consoles are industry standard now."
Mythos, Sharpy Washes, Lancelots, ChainMaster chain motors and grandMA2 consoles "make a good, solid package," Huddleston concludes. "The band needs a robust touring package, and this gear delivers quality and dependability."