Roadrunning With Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris

Bandit Lites supplied lighting, rigging and crew for the UK, European, and US legs of Mark Knopfler’s and Emmylou Harris’ All The Roadrunning tour. The tour promotes the collaborative album of the same name from the Dire Straits frontman and 11-time Grammy award-winner, Emmylou Harris.

Lighting designer Simon Tutchener was asked to produce a simple, classy look for the stage. With no video production onboard, the visual scenography was all lighting, and he in turn again asked Lester Cobrin at Bandit to help realize his design.

The design was based on using two very elegant 26’ diameter A-type interlocking circular trusses, which Bandit had custom fabricated. Tutchener wanted an architectural feel to the stage that defined the space. The circles symbolized the fusion of two of the greatest living performers and creative forces in popular music, and also celebrated the existence of two very independent individuals in a parallel universe.

Lester Cobrin comments, “Simon called me and explained his concept by interlinking the circular trusses, as the main focal point of his design, which I thought unusual, interesting and very refreshing. Once rigged to trim, the circles gave off quite an illusion and that was fantastic.”

Tutchener had designed Knopfler’s very successful 2005 tour, with a practical user-friendly rig, also supplied by Bandit. “This time I wanted something completely new and totally different,” he explains. Tutchener has worked with Knopfler for four years now and the two have a good line of communication.

As soon as Knopfler approved Tutchener’s initial visual, Bandit ordered the fabrication of the second circular truss, already having the kit to build one from Total Solutions Group. Each circle is suspended on four points. There’s also a ‘dog legged’ cable bridge to neatly lift cables off the circles which ran offstage, plus a rear lighting truss with a fibre optic starcloth upstage, concealed behind a pair of blue travera tabs.

The two circles were physically identical but there was nothing symmetrical about them at all. The stage right circle was rigged at an extreme acute angle with a 16’ rake from front to back, while the stage left was hung at a flatter and more obtuse angle.

The system consisted of 30 Martin Professional MAC 2K profile moving lights, complete with Tutchener’s own designed gobos, and 22 MAC 2K washes of which 10 were positioned on the ground behind the band. Sixteen JTE PixelPAR 90s, eight per circle, were used for truss toning.

In addition to these were 64 PAR cans for general cover, band, and stage washes, plus four FOH Lycian 2K followspots. Tutchener operated the show from his preferred console of choice, GrandMA, with an MA Lite as backup. The circles also give Tutchener plenty of latitude in terms of fixture focusability, far more that if he’d used conventional straight trusses.

The rig went up within three hours and down in just over an hour, so it proved a very expedient and efficient system, and packed neatly into one truck, “And the crew loved me for it,” quips Tutchener.

His crew from Bandit was Mick Freer, Ewan Cameron, and Martin Garnish. He comments, “I have a great relationship with Lester and he always looks after me. Bandit take great care in what they are doing and always listen and take onboard what you’re trying to achieve, which is great.”

After the UK and European legs, Cobrin liaised with Richard Willis at Bandit US to oversee the transition but it didn’t end there. Due to the US routing, it was logistically impossible for the gear to reach LA from Minneapolis in time for the last three shows, so Bandit called on their friends at West Coast Lighting to duplicate Tutchener’s system.

Cobrin comments, “The communication between myself, Simon, Kevin Hopgood (PM), Richard Willis, and West Coast Lighting was a seamless success. The attention to detail was paramount, even down to leapfrogging Simon’s custom gobos over the planet.”

In the US, Ewan Cameron took over board operating and lighting direction while Simon fulfilled other commitments in the UK. Tour manager was Tim Hook and the production manager was Kevin Hopgood.

Suggested Articles:

Michael Strickland, chairman and founder of Bandit Lites, shares his insight, through his tireless efforts, on the state of PPP funding.

Cody James created a smoothly flowing show that balanced intricate stage lighting for Ayla Brown's livestream concert.

Enjoy some Balanchine, everything is beautiful at the ballet...