When she set out to design George Ezra’s 2022 arena and festival lighting rig, production designer Cate Carter didn’t need to look much further than the GLP catalogue to achieve the dynamic she was seeking.
The LD first added Ezra to her enviable portfolio of clients back in 2019 – then as part of the Bryte Design collective – before being re-engaged, this time as an independent, to help promote Ezra’s third album, Gold Rush Kid. Collaborating with her on the design were former Bryte associates Flora Harvey and Mike Smith.
Breaking from the Chinese lanterns which dominated the 2019 set, this latest confection – co-conceived with scenic designer Flora Harvey – was based around a giant, asymmetrical proscenium arch, lined with powerful and versatile GLP FX, to hold their own against a giant upstage video screen.
Prior to playing 11 arena dates over three weeks, the BRIT Award-winning singer-songwriter had been due to open with three ‘underplay’ gigs in February in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. But these were postponed until April due to the artist contracting chicken pox.
With Cate Carter’s preferred vendor, Lite Alternative (headed by Andy Scott), providing inventory, production rehearsals took place over four days at Fly By Nite’s facility in Redditch, prior to a full production day at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena where the set was built, and the tour kicked off on 13 September.
Carter selected an assortment of GLP solutions headed by the JDC Line 1000 hybrid, having had the opportunity of seeing them in real world action for the first time at Glastonbury, where she designs the John Peel stage – and being mightily impressed.
Speaking of the roles played by the GLP fixtures, the designer explains: “On the underside of the arch we used 13 [impression] FR10 Bars. We wanted a light curtain to come out from the arch and the FR10 Bar’s extreme output and intensity was essential when working alongside the video.” The FR10 Bar had all the horsepower Cate needed, since each batten contains 10 high output 60 Watt RGBW LED sources.
Sharing the stage with pantographs, the arch itself was built by SetStage from Bradford, in a truss format clad with wood. “Inside that was a recessed channel containing the 28 JDC Line 1000 – which we used as both scenic and effects lights,” the designer explains. “They are great to work with and using them as a scenic element we decided to put a thick opaque diffuser in front of them. We thought that might have been too heavy for a frost – but the strobe looked amazing, and the LEDs didn’t pixellate at all.”
The JDC Line 1000 itself combines a powerful strobe line and LED pixel-mapping device in a 1,000mm batten. At the same time production carried three of the smaller JDC Line 500 (500 mm) battens for locations where the arch needed to be scaled back. “For modular lighting they are just brilliant,” assesses Cate Carter.
Finally, a further 30 JDC1 were positioned between the upstage lighting truss and the floor: “We had them programmed in the widest possible mode and they were used for a variety of tasks, predominantly for strobing or as colour effects.”
Summarising the project, she concludes: “What we’ve done is to specify fixtures with the greatest versatility. This means that while that may require more programming power, we need fewer fixtures.
“The reason we always choose GLP is because their fixtures are really reliable, and with good output and versatility.”
All of which placed George Ezra and his seven-piece band (including three-piece brass section) in the context of an ever-changing scenic backdrop.
In terms of tour personnel, Cate Carter says the unmistakable feel-good vibe had been set by production manager Jake Vernum and tour manager Trevor Plunkett. She was also able to bring most of her lighting team back from the 2019 tour headed by a “fantastic” team from Lite Alternative. Key positions were held by crew chief Aidan McCabe, lighting director Chris Taylor, and lighting and video programmer and screens director Joe Lott.
The set now goes into storage as the band heads off to Australia, before being dusted off again for when the UK tour resumes in February 2023.
Photo credit: Luke Dyson