Howard has worked with the band since 1974, joining for their first U.S. tour – since then their line-up has remained the same.
In his remarkable 38-year association with the artist, Howard has continually come up with fresh and innovative ideas for their stage visuals, and seen their music embrace and explore many different genres through their unique and diverse works. In the early years on the road, he also multi-tasked as Tour and Production Manager and Tour Accountant …as well as LD!
Toronto-based Howard explains that they let him “Run wild” with the concepts and are extremely supportive of his ideas, as well as very appreciative of the ‘art’ in lighting. With this creative freedom, he has evolved many spectacular and surreal spaces in which they have performed, allowing – by now – several generations of fans to enjoy their music live.
For this tour, Howard specified Robe’s ROBIN 600 LEDWash for the first time.
Forty-eight LEDWash 600s are an integral part of the show, rigged onto four triangular shaped trusses - two on stage left and two on stage right, flown at different heights - and used for side washes and for beaming into the audience.
He really loves the way that the look of the LEDWash beam can resemble the specific “silky and velvety” textures and light qualities of a PAR 64. “You would never think it was an LED source!” he affirms.
The LEDWash 600s are used heavily during a song called ‘The Garden’ which is highly theatrical. “They are absolutely ideal for this,” states Howard, “Really just like an old style PAR” …but a fraction of the weight and power consumption and much more versatile!
Howard first saw the LEDWash 600 at PLASA 2011 when he visited the Robe stand. Soon after, he and his long term Lead Programmer, Tim Grivas, visited the factory in Valasske Mezirici and saw the production process in action – with which they were highly impressed.
They also had the chance to discuss specific products and their requirements at length with Robe CEO, Josef Valchar, who is highly involved in all of the product design and development.
After this visit, Howard specified the LEDWash 600s for the "Clockwork Angels" tour.
The fixtures have proved very reliable and Howard and his Assistant Programmer, Matt Tucker, are really happy with their choice. The crew certainly put them through their paces, using all of the features extensively especially the built-in macros.
The LEDWash 600s travel in the trucks in their assigned truss "pods", potentially a tougher ride than if they were flightcased for each drive, and the crew have all been impressed with their durability under these conditions.
The lighting vendor for Rush’s "Clockwork Angels" U.S. tour is Nashville-based Premier Global Productions. Howard has also received “Fantastic” additional support from the team at Robe Lighting, and Heather Busch who heads up the Touring Division for the U.S.
The set and concept for the band’s backline has been designed by Dale Heslip, and Howard designed the LED screen video architecture which is on an automated system that moves several times throughout the show.
The show’s video content was created by Howard, Dale and lead vocalist, Geddy Lee, together with contributions from the rest of the band – who have always taken a keen interest in their overall stage presentation. Video producer is Allan Weinrib, and the camera mix is being cut by acclaimed director, David Davidian.
The tour continues in the U.S. into Spring 2013 and is then scheduled to visit Europe before returning to North America for the rest of the summer, when it will have been on the road for a year.