West London based rental company Entec Sound & Light supplied lighting, rigging and crew for Paloma Faith’s recent high profile one-off show at London’s O2 Arena, preceded by warm ups at Liverpool Empire and Bournemouth BIC, once again working with Lighting Designer Tony Austin and the production team led by Tour Manager Neil Brighouse.
Entec’s Noreen O’Riordan and Adam Stevenson project managed the massive one-off, which followed Faith’s spring 2013 theatre tour, this time with an enlarged stage set and a more substantial lighting rig.
Austin brought many touches of theatrical magic to the equation, while Entec’s crew ensured that the rig went up smoothly and efficiently so he could maximise any available time for programming and tweaking.
Noreen comments, “Tony’s show was a fantastic blend of theatrical magic, drama and quirkiness and a perfect complement to Paloma’s offbeat, interesting and very dynamic style of performance”.
The O2 show required a completely new lighting design with versatility and flexibility at the core of the concept. The warm up shows utilised a smaller lighting rig, so only at the O2 did Austin have his full rig for the first time, adding extra pressures to the day.
An expanded version of Josh Grace’s striking mirrored and gold palm leaf encrusted art deco style stage set was created for the O2 show, however Faith started the set with a completely bare stage, just her singing an acoustic number in front of a mid stage curtain.
As the show continued, she was joined onstage by her band and then by a full string and brass section which were also added especially for the O2. Initially they were all still downstage of the curtain. Not until half way through the performance was the stage set revealed, building up to a visual crescendo for the finale.
Lighting wise, at the O2 the three straight trusses which had been used on the warm ups were used, together with a new circular truss downstage centre – used for extra set foliage and decoration as well as lighting. The circle truss rigged on double braked motors came in during the big final reveal. Austin also added four flown side booms to facilitate high level front cross stage lighting.
The front truss was rigged with eight Clay Paky Sharpy Washes, six 8-lite Moles, eight Vari*Lite VL 3000 spots, eight Robe LEDWash 600s and 13 x ETC Source Fours. Two 2K fresnels were added to wash the orchestra. On the mid truss were six VL3000 spots, four Sharpy Washes and a single Source Four used for rear key lighting on Faith. The back truss featured six Atomic strobes, six Sharpy Washes and six VL3000 spots.
On the upstage side boom there were two more VL3000 spots, two Sharpy Washes and an Atomic, while on the downstage one each side were another two VL3000s, a single Sharpy Wash and one Atomic. These proved invaluable positions tor Austin to have at his disposal with a lot of performers onstage to cover!
On the deck were six Martin by Harman MAC Viper profiles, positioned downstage left and right both sides. He’d also appreciated these a lot on the tour, used for lighting the set and to establish a basic stage ambience with colour and texturing. Six floor-based Sharpy beams were utilised for picking out assorted set elements.
Along the front of the stage in the footlights position were another six Robe LEDWash 600s – their small size and thin profile making them ideal for the job. Another eight ran along the back of stage primarily pointing up the Austrian curtains at the back of stage.
On the circular truss – which flew in for the end of the set – were six more Sharpy beams.
Andy Emmerson and Austin ran the lightshow simultaneously from two consoles – a grandMA full size and a grandMA light – Emmerson controlling the moving lights and Austin calling the spots and working the key lights and general stage washes.
“Entec and all their crew have been amazing.” commented Austin, “I could not have asked for a better company in every aspect of the project – from the organisation and logistics through to the kit itself and personalities of the crew – nothing I wanted or needed to do was a problem!”
Entec fielded one of their fabulous A Team crews to ensure that it all went seamlessly on the day and night. Joining Andy Emmerson were Crew Chief Sudip Shrestha, Damian Courage, Chris Gadd and Brendan Albrey.
Noreen O’Riordan comments, “Tony learnt his trade under the watchful eye of Terry Lee at LSD in Birmingham back in the early 1980s, and he soon progressed up the ladder and was sent out to operate shows like Prince for Roy Bennett. He also spent many years touring the globe as UB40’s Lighting Designer, and I like the fact that he still insists on using the traditional ‘pilot and co-pilot’ format at front of house.
“I enjoy working with Tony and respect his eye for detail. Paloma is a hugely creative artist, and right from the off she had a vision that fun loving Set Designer Joshua Grace, Production Manager John Gray and Tony executed with definition and style”.
The reviews of the shows have been outstanding, and “Much credit should go to John Gray for holding the whole production together with such strength and determination,” asserts O’Riordan.
John Gray elucidates how they first discussed this show two or three months ago after which Joshua Grace started putting the look together and Tony Austin started on the lighting design, while he worked with Austin on how to make the rolling on of all the equipment and set pieces work during the show.
“SJM were great in getting what we needed from the venue,” he explains, adding that things only really became finalised once they were in production rehearsals at Elstree.
Once there, Gray made a scale model of the stage space, risers and set pieces and then worked through the sightline v. stage space needed to hide the set issues, finally running through every move meticulously before it was attempted for real.
“David Odlum did a brilliant job of arranging the music, working with myself and the stage managers Tim Allcock and John Adams to precisely time and execute the moves,” he states.
Odlum also worked with Guy Barker and Sonia Slany to integrate the strings and horn sections into the show.
Gray continues, “Right through this process Noreen at Entec was there for us … sorting out the inevitable changes… and the changes to the changes, always coming up with a ‘solution’ and never finding a problem. I would like to thank her especially for all her help in making this show happen”.
Miles Hillyard project managed for sound contractors SSE, while maestro Huw Richards engineered the FOH sound to perfection and monitor engineer Oliver Waring – on only his 6th Paloma gig – tied all the monitoring together for everyone on stage.
Tony Austin now goes out on tour with Portishead for the summer, with Entec supplying a festival ‘specials’ rig.