Legendary post-punk electronic rock band New Order played two hugely memorable one-off shows ahead of a London O2 Arena show scheduled for November, which also celebrated the re-opening of full capacity live shows and performances in the UK … in what we all hope will be the start of a new ‘post pandemic’ era of music, creativity, and fun.
Lighting designer Andy Liddle – who celebrates his own landmark of 40 years as the band’s LD this year – specified 66 x Robe MegaPointes as the only effects moving lights on the rig for these two banging outdoor shows, the first staged at Piece Hall in Halifax, followed two days later by Heaton Park in Manchester.
The atmosphere for both shows was electric!
Needing to make a visual impact, lighting was combined with lasers and video, and Andy wanted one fixture that would work equally well as a spot, wash, and beam light … and MegaPointe was an easy choice! The lighting kit was supplied by rental company Siyan.
The MegaPointes were rigged on three overhead trusses above, below and around the sides of the screen, effectively framing it, with another row upstage on a low truss, blasting through the band from behind.
In a show characterised by heavy and dramatic back lighting, “I relied on them for absolutely everything in terms of effects, expression and power,” stated Andy, who was delighted to be back designing and running live shows after 18 months of the industry being shut down due to Covid.
Andy specifically wanted only one moving light fixture for this design, triggered by memories of shows in the 1980s when – if you were lucky enough to have the budget – you only had the choice of one type of moving light!
“Having the one fixture also made programming hugely easier and more expedient in the short timeframe we had available as I could do all the palette work simultaneously,” he explained.
Andy frequently uses Robe products in his work, commenting, “they are reliable, well-built and offer a lot of imaginative scope.” Working with artists like New Order, there’s never a limit to how innovative or inventive he can be!
He had initially started specifying the MegaPointe for the fixture’s eye-popping beam properties, but after a short while, began to realize they are equally as good as spots and even as washes utilizing the frost. The ultimate in ‘multipurpose’!
The original look for these two New Order shows derived from a 2015 design with five arrays of upstage video wall, now condensed into one 4:1 ratio panoramic screen showing a range of cool video content that matched beautifully with the lighting and the laser moments.
Also on the rig were some moving lights for key and side lighting, plus LED beam strobes and blinders for rear hits and audience illumination, as Andy succinctly put it, “straight out of the KISS – ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ – copybook!” He added that he’s been “bitten in the arse” enough times in the past trying to be over-ambitious in designing lights for one off scenarios!
He programmed and ran the show using two Avolites Arena consoles running Titan 15 software, assisted in the lighting programming by Nathan Wan, with Paul Bird as his associate LD, programming some of the newer material and minding the backup console.
Lasers were supplied by BPM/SFX and programmed by Toby Macknight and Cosmin Barbuceanu, who also crewed both shows.
The video cues were triggered from drummer Stephen Morris’s pads utilising a Catalyst media server, and the content from various digital artists was amassed and prepared for the show by Warren Jackson and run by Pete Cross.
The biggest challenge, said Andy, was remembering how to program a live show after an enforced 18-month hiatus and not having run a lighting console live!
He enjoyed the incredible vibes at both locations.
The 18th century Piece Hall piazza was a very special and charismatic site-specific space, and for the Manchester show the band received a proper heroes homecoming welcome … by a crowd as ecstatic as all on the production side … to be out and experiencing a live gig again!
“It was f***ing amazing to be back in that environment – great gear, great crew from Siyan and BPM/SFX and two really fun shows!” stated Andy still high on the buzz of it all, and now looking forward to getting back again in November!
Photo Credit: Lindsay Cave