A-ha are currently out for an extensive tour of the UK and Europe, running from early June until late August, playing a variety of headline shows in UK stadiums and European festival appearances. With the band revisiting their original trademark electronic sound, show designer Stu’ Farrell has conceived a thought provoking staging for the band that sees specialist supplier Video Design provide some unusual LED and a distinct degree of autonomy for Julien Hogg, Farrell’s long-time collaborator and custodian of all things video.
“The visual concept is intended to make the audience think about what they are seeing,” Hogg says. “Stu’s design sees three long strips of LED on the front of double wide risers approximately three-foot tall, one for each band member. The Vanish25 panels we have from Video Design are chosen to allow the lighting behind to shine through, and for the LED to be part of the effect.
"We also have an eight-foot tall screen of V25 across the back of stage," he continues. "The Vanish panels as the name suggests, are all see-through; we have what we call Sabbath Pods, square frames of lighting that are set behind the LED. With fewer pixels in a shine through panel (25mm pixel pitch) you have to be careful about what you put through the LED. The panels have 50% transparency and were chosen deliberately to achieve the effects Stu’ wanted; they have proved perfect for the design. The content images used are much more effects based than recognizable ‘real’ images; for example, there are scenes you might relate to as a skyline, but they’re not skylines. The result is much more impressionistic, so the viewer will pick up on certain aspects, but the intention is to stimulate their imagination. In that way, it encourages the audience to engage with the performance.”
For the early dates, Hogg is supported by Rob Stansfield. “Rob is an LED panel specialist,” explains Video Design MD Alex Leinster. “We put him in there as this is an unfamiliar product and we didn’t want anything to distract Julien from his core creative function.”
It appears Hogg is already happy with the performance of the equipment. “We will shortly take the rigging and running of the video system inhouse,” Hogg says. “Basically, myself and the core A-ha crew will run the job and this will become a dry-hire. It’s been made possible for us to do that because of the way Video Design prepares their equipment and packages it. In fact, it’s so well done it’s almost impossible to get it wrong. All told they are a pleasure to work with.”