Electronic music innovators Above and Beyond played two high profile UK shows on their much anticipated Acoustic world tour at two beautiful and historically significant Albert Halls – the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in central London and the charismatic Albert Hall Manchester, a more intimate but equally beautiful space, formerly a Methodist church.
Lighting and visuals for the tour are designed by Neil Marsh, while equipment and crew for these and a warm-up in Utrecht, were delivered by Colour Sound Experiment. Colour Sound also took the opportunity to invest in more high powered Barco 30K projectors to service these shows, and having also just purchased some for another tour, are now well equipped to deliver the most demanding large format projection projects.
The company’s association with Marsh and Above & Beyond goes back some years, and Colour Sound’s Haydn Cruickshank comments: “Above & Beyond are known for producing amazing trance music. However, reworking these well-known dancefloor anthems takes the dynamics of their work to completely new levels. We were very proud to be involved.”
Performing some of their favourite compilations in a new acoustic/orchestral environment propelled Marsh into new directions in terms of design. At the RAH, tickets were so in demand that the show was sold 270 degrees, which dictated the sight-lines and set the top truss trim heights very high. The design contained two semi-circular projection surfaces hung on two fractional segments of 10m circular trusses (a half and a three-eighth curved section respectively).
These also featured different height hangs of double-layered deco linen with a burgundy red Voile CS from Showtex on the reverse side. Marsh wanted a rough surface, and the idea was to have ephemeral diorama-style video images flickering away creating atmosphere – rather than it being a virtual IMAG of the performance.
The two Barco 30K projectors were rigged on the gallery level of the RAH auditorium approximately 70m away, and the desired effect was replicated extremely well. Six HD mini-cams were dotted around the stage and their inputs fed directly into the AI server also running and treating the playback video sources created for the show by Dylan Byrne. The AI received timecode from a JoeCo playback machine operated by ‘Bid’ Sebastian Beresford.
The lighting rig featured eight 2K Skypans on stands, positioned onstage in close proximity to the band, bringing a nice touch of retro. In the air above were three curved trusses maintaining the arc theme, with 22 Robe BMFL Spots as the main profile luminaires, chosen, with the high trim in mind, for their brightness and power – even when zoomed out wide or heavily effected with gobos and in darker colours.
Marsh worked in a row of 12 Sunstrips along the front of the stage which made ideal footlights in the limited available space. 16 Martin Sceptron LED battens were vertically K-clamped to mic stands and positioned wherever they would fit in amongst the band and musicians. The lighting was completed with some ETC Source Four PARs dotted around for general band illumination, and an arc of blinders on the back lip of the stage mimicking the curvature of the Skypans.
Marsh programmed and ran the show on a ChamSys MQ300 console with an MQ200 running as a spare, and was assisted by Dave Kyle who co-ordinated all the video elements making all the FOH operations run super-smoothly.
He was supported by the Colour Sound crew, chiefed by Simon Robertson and John ‘Afghan’ Lahiffe who looked after dimmers, with technicians Alex McCoy and Chris Foot.