INXS is traipsing the globe for the Switched On tour, sporting both a new lead singer and a new album, with fellow Australian LD/programmer/operator Sean “Motley” Hackett along for the ride and Delicate Productions providing lighting and video.
According to Hackett, much of the original concept for the basic set and lighting came from the band's drummer Jon Farriss, the “visual one in the band,” who wanted the stage to have a silver and chrome feel to look like liquid mercury when lit, as well as from video projection. The result is “punk, industrial, monochromatic, rock, 2006, with a bit of love thrown in for good measure,” the designer says.
“If you go to a band meeting, you get six different views of it all,” he adds. “If you pick bits of those six different views, it always ends up pretty cool. I usually start with Jon. He comes up with the canvas that he wants.” And what Farriss wanted for this tour was a “modern day punk-looking stage — sort of industrial with loads of white light,” says Hackett. “Keep the colors simple and monochromatic. I only have 10 colors, including white. They are the classic rock colors that everyone uses over the years.”
The lighting runs alongside the video from an MA Lighting grandMA. “I like the multiple views [of the grandMA],” says Hackett. “We can have a show one, a program one, a video one, and a support one.”
The rig consists of 30 High End Systems Studio Beams®, 14 Martin MAC 2000 Profiles (with another six to be added for the next leg), six ETC Source Four® 19° 575W ellipsoidals, and one Source Four 26 ERS for the backing vocals, plus a variety of PAR64s, TMB ProCan 4-lite Molefays, Altman 1kW Q-Lites, and festoon-style Star Strobes. There are also two ETC 48×2.4kW Sensor dimmer racks, two Reel EFX DF50 Hazers, Jands DD8 splitters, a mirror ball, and a combination of trussing from Total Fabrications and Trilite. Rigging for both lighting and video consists of 17 motorized hoists from CM Lodestar.
Video content is all prerecorded; there is no live feed for the show. The content projected on the on the screen — used for just two songs — was created by Scott Duncan, who also makes the band's music videos. “Some of it is stock footage that looks cool,” says Hackett. “We start the show with a five-minute countdown clock on a black Kabuki. We tried to find one everywhere but could not. Danny Whetstone, our video guy, sat down and stitched 1,800 JPEGs together to make a 30-minute one. Then it got shortened to five minutes.”
A Kabuki drops just as the show starts, revealing the metallic environment of the set, which includes a three-level drum riser with black vinyl flooring, silver backdrops in a chrome fabric for most of the songs, and a custom 9'×21' Da-Lite screen. “We have the screen, but we only use it for two songs, and the rest is on the silver crush curtain,” says Hackett. Toward the edges of the set, the curtain opens only twice during the show to reveal the screen.
“I like the way the projection looks on the silver backdrop. With [the Coolux] Pandoras Box, we can make masked shapes and 3D objects to map video on. I like all the white light, as the band and I have a white light fetish.” Also used for projection are two Sanyo PLC-XF45 LCD projectors and two Kramer VP-22 VGA/XGA line amplifiers for graphics processing.
When using lighting and video simultaneously, Hackett likes to keep it dark, so the images onscreen pop well. “On one song, I just use six ETC Source Fours and the video. Other times, we use video to light the whole center drape with texture.” Two pods of lights, comprised of PAR64s, flank the stage for the duration of the show.
To design, integrate, and run both video and lighting, Hackett says, “Keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple, and keep it simple. The thing with running digital video through the desk is not to overdo it. If the content is good and simple and used sparingly, it can make an impact.”