DJ BoBo is a phenomenon. After 30 years on stage and 15 studio albums behind him – many of them gold and platinum – the Swiss artist is still selling out major venues. In 2023 there will be another anniversary tour (which is already almost completely sold out) with Evolut30n. Starting in May, 56 GLP XDC1 IP Hybrid strobes will travel with him.
The two-and-a-half-week tour rehearsals – including four advance preview shows – took place in January at Europark Rust. Here lighting designer Thomas Gerdon had the opportunity to put his design through its paces. Explains Gerdon, “Everyone involved saw the rehearsal phase in Rust as a creative process. Ideas were brought along, but the specific design of the show developed in a collaborative manner during rehearsals. It was demanding, but it was a lot of fun.”
It is Gerdon’s first lighting design for a DJ BoBo tour. However, his contact with the artist has existed for many years: “We have known each other since 2010. Since then there have always been points of contact. So much the better that this time I and my team can make a substantial contribution to the look of the show.”
As the name suggests, the Evolut30n tour is dedicated to the pop and dance artist’s 30th anniversary. From a technical point of view, this time the stage show consists almost entirely of video projections. Challenging conditions indeed for a lighting designer…
Lighting design for a show dominated by projections on three stages
“Video mapping is actually very much in the foreground,” points out Gerdon. “This means that the huge stage – with a backdrop 50 metres wide – is completely white and serves as a projection surface for video content of all kinds. In terms of lighting, a highlight show was required for the occasion, but not in competition with the video mapping. That was one of our great challenges.”
The other element is that there is a total of three stages. A B stage sits in front of the large main stage, and even further back in the hall, at FoH level, is the C stage in the form of a huge turntable.
Entire halls filled with light
“Because of this arrangement, we decided not only to illuminate the stages, but the entire hall,” Gerdon continues. “However, finding the right fixtures was not easy. In some arenas on the tour schedule, the raked seating reaches under the roof. Here you can’t hang the audience trusses at a height of 12 to 13 metres, as in the Europapark Arena, because part of the audience would then be sitting above the lighting rig. So we’re talking more about 16 to 19 metres.”
62 metre-long trusses at a height of 18 metres
“If you don’t want to install hundreds of moving lights, which always comes down to a question of cost and efficiency, the choice of devices quickly becomes very thin. With moving lights you would have to rely on very large devices. But then I remembered the XDC1 IP Hybrid on the Ed Sheeran tour: high-power strobe tubes plus three rows of narrow-beam RGBL LEDs … Eureka!” Gerdon comments.
After discussions with Oliver Schwendke and Michael Feldmann from GLP, Gerdon was certain that he had found the ideal solution for the planned application.
And so 56 of the new GLP XDC1 IP Hybrid strobe/wash lights found their way into the design. The XDC1 offers impressive light output and colour reproduction quality in combination with two extremely powerful white strobe lines. 18 wash LEDs, each with 40W light output in three rows of six pixels each, can also be controlled on two levels. Even at long distances, as at the DJ BoBo Show, the device still makes a huge impact with its enormous output, even when using the frost filter. The integrated Tungsten Simulation channel also allows it to be used as an effective audience blinder. The two strobe lines of the XDC1 IP Hybrid offer up to 1,100 W of power, which can effortlessly light up entire stadiums and arenas. Exactly what Gerdon had in mind for this project.
“Two trusses, each 62 metres long, stretch from the stage to the end of the halls, which contain 60 moving lights in addition to the 56 XDC1s evenly distributed. However, it is the XDC1 IP Hybrid that allows us to illuminate the entire audience area brightly and evenly, even in large arenas such as the Lanxess Arena in Cologne.”
Theatrics and EDM strobe power from one device
It’s important to note that “the majority of the show requires musical/theatre lighting rather than EDM power,” says Gerdon. The show is more reminiscent of a Cirque du Soleil performance, which in turn affects the lighting design. The XDC1 was also absolutely appropriate under these conditions, as Gerdon confirms: “With the XDC1 IP Hybrid, we kill the proverbial two birds with one stone: for those moments when absolute strobe power and full throttle lighting are required, we have an incredibly powerful tool with the XDC1. In the other parts of the show we benefit from the fantastic colour mix of the impression X5, which can also be found in the XDC1. And I know that you can use it to create very beautiful colours, including absolutely realistic moonlight moods. It’s just the best of both worlds.”
When asked whether he would have the XDC1 IP Hybrid in his inventory for future projects, the lighting designer replies: “The XDC1 is a great, versatile device with enormous output. I realise that the Evolut30n tour, with its 60 metre traverses at a height of around 18 metres, is a very special application. And that’s how I see the fixture: as a fantastic special effect for large construction sites where very high light output, excellent colour rendering and variability are required.”
The Evolut30n tour starts on 5 May 2023 in Stuttgart.
Photo credit: Julian Huke