The Mark Knopfler & Band tour is currently bringing all-time classics, from both the Dire Straits and his solo catalogue, to packed arena audiences across Europe and North America. Hits such as Sultans of Swing and Brothers in arms can be heard until the tour finishes in the end of October. Lighting designer for the tour, Mark Henderson, wanted to create a lighting show that was worthy of performing along side the multi-million-selling singer-songwriter, especially as he us currently ranking at 44th on Rolling Stones 100 greatest guitarists of all time. To do so, Henderson incorporated 22 CHAUVET Professional Nexus AW 7×7 panels into the lighting show, bringing stunning theatrical effect.
Henderson – an award-winning theater lighting director – has worked on countless theatrical productions in Londons West End, New York and Las Vegas. When he was asked to LD Kate Bushs 22-date sell-out comeback residency at Londons Hammersmith Apollo, a new opportunity was presented to him to apply his theatrical touch within the medium of the rock n roll show. It was precisely the theatrical aspect of this lighting design that caught the attention of Mark Knopflers entourage.
Mark Knopflers Production Manager (Kevin Hopgood) came to see the Kate Bush show, commented Henderson. He knew Mark was looking for a new lighting designer with a slightly more theatrical approach, and so he recommended me to Mark.
The theatrical approach is certainly evident within Mark Knopflers lighting design. While the design exudes a certain minimalism lacking in many rock show lighting designs, it is precisely this simplicity that gives the show its refreshing look, thanks in no small part to the role played by the CHAUVET Professional Nexus Aw 7×7s.
“Ive personally never had to integrate the scenic and lighting together in the design, but the Nexus 7x7s became an integral part for me to achieve this marriage between scenery and lighting, especially with regards to adding that extra visual emphasis to the music.”
The stage comprises two central elements. At the back of the stage, a spit screen cyclorama radiates various colors and textures at different points in the show. At the front of the stage and above, the Hawthorn-supplied CHAUVET Professional Nexus Aw 7x7s are placed strategically along the rectangular-shaped trussing above the stage.
“With the Nexus fixtures I was able to recreate that warm tungsten look, thus giving the show more of an element of classic theatrical lighting,” said Henderson. ”They also have the intensity for the audience blinders and the versatility to be able to be incorporated within the show utilizing their pixel-mapping capabilities.”
One such incorporation was during the Dire Straits ballad Romeo and Juliet, in which individual LEs on the Nexus panels were illuminated sporadically to give a star-like effect. The Nexus panels really come into their own during Romeo and Juliet, commented Henderson. The lights become part of the scenery, and in doing so, the heart rendering effect of the song is accentuated.
Despite the large quantity of Nexus panels used on the show, Henderson was impressed by their practicality and road worthiness. “The Nexus panels are small and lightweight enough to be hung over the truss and transported without any problems,” he said. ”Compared to moving heads and bulky trussing, theyre really simple to mount and de-rig, while taking up barely any space during transportation.”
All in all, Henderson is confident that his experience as LD for the Mark Knopfler tour has been positive for everyone involved. “Everyone is very happy with the lighting design, in terms of practicality, look and atmosphere, continued Henderson. The Nexus panels manage to support Marks music with integrity, and we provided a good looking show that was stylish and adaptable.”