UK rock band Placebo continue their acclaimed ‘Loud Like Love’ world tour which entered its third year after starting in September 2013, with lighting and visuals designed by Jvan Morandi of Placing Shadows Ltd. who brings his characteristic eye for style and flair to the imaginative equation.
For the first time, west London based Rental Company Colour Sound Experiment supplied lighting equipment and LED screens - for the latest section of the tour - which has just completed an extensive run through UK academy venues.
Jvan’s original design concept has been adapted several times for the various legs of the tour, which have already included two full production runs and two festival seasons. This time it was modified again to fit the academy sized venues, retaining the raw, gritty aesthetic with lots of moody back-lighting and quirky video that has created such an interesting creative oeuvre … ensuring the focus remains firmly on the music.
Being flexible enough to make the stage presentation look good and appropriate in any environment underpinned the design, and was an extremely challenging goal to achieve. Dealing with the two visual disciplines of lighting and video enabled Jvan to produce an integrated and fluid picture that wrapped around the band.
This process retained some essential elements including five upstage LED screens - scalable to three surfaces for the smaller stages.
Colour Sound were asked on-board having recently worked with Jvan on The Kooks tour which went very well, and also because of their ability to supply both lighting and a good quality LED screen product.
Colour Sound’s Haydn Cruickshank comments, “We were delighted to support Jvan and assist him in achieving his creative visions. Whenever he’s involved you know that it will look different and ‘out-of-the-box”.
One reason Jvan picked Colour Sound’s 20 mm proprietary BT screen product was because of its light weight. This allowed enough screen elements to be flown in low headroom situations and where the house flying facilities had limited weight loading.
The system was designed so the three centre frames (the LED panels were built into touring frames) of screen were flown, while the outer two surfaces sat in their own dollies or ‘skates’, for quick and easy deployment to expand the width of the performance space.
Ahead of the tour, the show video content had to be reformatted, edited and reprogrammed so it fitted these screens and configuration. It was run via a Catalyst media server supplied by Jvan’s company, Out of Kontrol.
When it came to lighting, there were usually three different venue scenarios ranging from a completely bare space – into which they brought in their entire touring production – to others where they could use some elements of house rigs and integrate their floor package and specials.
With this in mind, lighting for this leg of the tour was also designed with adaptability to the fore.
Placebo’s front and back trusses were used on every date to ensure continuity together with the main ‘specials’ fixtures - 12 x Robe Pointes - positioned three per side on the ends of the back truss and six along the floor at back of stage.
Solid, bold wash lighting was provided by 20 x Robe LEDWash 600s which were fine tuned to work together with 18 x Chauvet Q-Wash 260s – a small LED wash moving head ideal for secondary fill light. Three of the Q-Wash 260s were rigged on six booms, two dropping down from the back truss and the other four on floor bases outlining the space between the screens, which added a layer of depth even on the smaller stages.
The main spot fixtures were 13 x Robe MMX Spots and these were used extensively for adding drama, texturing and beam effects to the picture.
Sixteen SGM C5 LED strobes were amply scattered around – six were on the booms and the rest on the floor, their power ideal for punctuating the potency and intensity of the music.
The fixture placement was tight and the lights used sparingly and thoughtfully to ensure that every song had its own look within the boundaries of the stark and almost ‘photographic’ ambience of the stage.
The show was directed and operated on the road for Jvan by Hunter Frith who used a ChamSys MagicQ console. He was joined on the tour by one of Colour Sound’s top crew technicians, Sam Campbell with Tiffany Hudson looking after the video elements.
Photos: Louise Stickland