Vari-Lite and Sarah McLachlan Down Under


For the Australia/New Zealand opening leg of Sarah McLachlan's 2004 world tour, lighting designer Graeme Nicol opted for a warmer look. To create the design, he employed a mixture of VARI*LITE® automated fixtures. Nicol has 10 VL1000™ tungsten units, eight VL5™ fixtures with tungsten source and eight VL3000™ Spot luminaires.

"I'm running the VL3000 Spot units with full CTO all the time because I want that warmer look," Nicol said. "I didn't want it to look like an MTV thing."

The eight VL3000 Spot fixtures are placed on the mid-truss, evenly spaced and alternating with the VL5 units. Because the automated rig is a scaled-down version of the rig he will use for the upcoming North American tour, Nicol was somewhat limited in his design. But he plans to use this first run of dates to get a better idea of his design for the rest of the world tour.

One thing that will definitely carry over onto future legs is the VL3000 Spot luminaire. "They can stop making moving lights now; there's nothing left to do," Nicol said. "With the VL3000 Spot fixtures, we've reached the apex."

Q1 Production Technologies ( in Vancouver provided the Series 3000 fixtures and VL5 units for the opening leg of the tour. Nicol plans to rent the VL1000 luminaires locally. Q1 will provide all of the VARI*LITE ( fixtures for the North American and European legs of the tour. Nicol expects to double and possibly triple the number of VL3000 Spot fixtures for McLachlan's North American dates.

One of the biggest difference for Nicol in creating the lighting design for the different legs is working around the video. The design for the North American tour calls for video screens that are basically vertical blinds that will be open for select numbers, but completely disappear for the rest. In Australia, a traditional video screen will used, which will be permanently displayed.

"For the first leg, we have to put content on the screen for every song just because the screen's there and if you don't fill it, it looks bad," Nicol explained. "When we come back to North America, we will probably lean on one medium or the other more heavily for given songs."

Although the tour is the first on which Nicol has used the VL 3000 Spot luminaires, he's not completely new to the product.

"I've been doing some demos at Q1 with the Series 3000 fixtures," Nicol explained. "Tracey Ploss at Q1 knew that I'd been trained on VARI*LITE fixtures and wanted to give me as much time possible with the new products."

The Australia/New Zealand tour kicked off May 21 at Brisbane Convention Centre.

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