Avraham Tal Plays Robe on Tour
Avraham Tal is one of the best known and most successful contemporary Israeli singer / songwriter and multi-instrumentalists – known for the amazing power and distinctive texture and colour of his voice – as well as for constantly developing and reimagining the style and flow of his music.
His 2019 tour takes a more electronic clubby vibe than previously, and with that, he wanted fresh input on the lighting front and a spec including Robe MegaPointes, Spiiders and BMFL Spots.
Avraham had a dream one night about being able to ‘play’ the lighting concurrently to his instruments onstage … and that’s where the visual concept for this tour started!
He wanted this to be achieved without the mechanical precision of timecode but with a more organic process, something that produced a fabulously rich and rhythmic live visual environment … to feature on his live shows over the next year.
Co designers Eran Klein & Omer Israeli of Cochavi and Klein Light Architects proposed a scheme - including Robe moving lights - which was chosen to help explore and develop this idea and these new directions for the stage presentation.
Cochavi & Klein (Eli Cochavi and Eran have been friend since 1996 and business partners since 2003) are well known for their imagination and aptitude to bring new visual dimensions to corporate and experiential events and as atmospheric engineers for parties and dance events, so this touring show was also a new direction for their creative talents.
They and Omer Israeli are all great fans of Robe technology and share a great synergy which helped produce something special for this tour, together with input from Madrix programmer and tour LD / operator, Naor Bonomo.
A major part of this creative chemistry was focussed on finding a new way of synching lighting and video with elements of the music, utilising MIDI over Ethernet into the grandMA2 lighting console via a magic little ‘boom box’ device that Naor spec’d and programmed.
Different lights can be ‘played’ per song, and instruments triggering the action can be assigned via the lighting console, all of which makes the process live and completely harmonious with the music and the vibe of the moment. This setup allows the artist to improvise whenever he feels like it, without timecode dictating the schedule!
The lighting console also triggers the Madrix controller running the mapping on the LED tubes.
This way, when Avraham plays his Ableton MIDI Push “piano” for example, different notes can be paired with different lighting effects, allowing him to literally ‘play’ the lights and to flip dynamically from doing so on one set of lights … to another.
The overall look of the show was inspired by multiple aspects including vintage 1980s style DJ light boxes, and the lighting rig is designed with six distinctive and different layers or levels, all of which can work together or individually. They can also be combined or stripped back as the set unfolds, revealing a surprise for every number.
This includes the 18 x Spiiders rigged above the main section of the stage and a layer of BMFL spots stationed upstage denoting the back of the set.
On other levels are a row of Sunstrips along the front of the stage in the footlights position; a striking wall of LED tubes immediately behind the band; a layer of strobes and some modern versions of classic 1980’s multi-light balls on moving head yolks … as well as some Jorgos RGBW triangular tiles.
The artist wanted a bit of a studio / jam session vibe, so the four backing musicians are all positioned on an upstage riser with the LED tube wall behind them … and the Spiiders up on the rig above
The Spiiders are linked to the lighting MIDI control, and several piano parts ‘play’ effects utilising the fixtures’ individual ring control, sparking random twinkling, chasing effects which work extremely well.
Eran says of the Spiiders: “They are very powerful, versatile and brilliant for creating that really precise ‘digital’ feel that we want for the show but without the movement being really robotic”.
Seven Robe MegaPointes are positioned directly above the band for individual key lighting, and three for back-lighting Avraham.
Another five BMFL Spots on the front truss provide the main front key lighting - as the artist prefers to work without follow spots in order to have a better connection to the people and the immediate environment - hence these and the warm glow of the Sunstrips from low down.
Four BMFL Spots on the floor at the back shoot through the band, the LED tube wall and the rest of the set. These are very important to the look, amplifying lighting instruments like the LED wall that are acting as physical set pieces, and boosting the overall perceived depth of the stage.
Another two MegaPointes are positioned on each side of the stage to make the stage space appear a bit wider and to backlight guest musicians positioned on either side of the stage.
The big aesthetic challenge for the set and lighting design is to help shift the artist from one musical headspace into another, and overall to emphasise his new music and a new epoch of creative energy.
Cochavi & Klein designed the set. The production manager is Lihi Gindin, the lighting director is Ziv Holtzman and the project manager is Dor Aichner. Sound is designed by FOH engineer Amotz Nachmany.
Lighting and sound equipment is being supplied by Hakol Bakol, with some of the Robe and the Jorgos fixtures supplied by Danor Theatre & Studio Systems and the LED tubes & Madrix from KO. Pixel Studio created the video content.
Photo Credit: Lior Keter, Riki Kendel