UNITED KINGDOM – Everything about the ‘Nice to Meet You’ Tour exudes confidence. This production is not scheduled to begin the arena venues in the UK until October but, rather than start quietly and unobtrusively, Jessie J’s first show was to an audience of 50,000 at an outdoor show in Rabat, on the East coast of Morocco. Lighting designer Vince Foster’s rig reflects that same sharp and self-assured poise that the artist herself is renowned for.
Aside from the audience lighting of 4 light Mole Strips, this is an all Clay Paky rig, a design choice that Foster has opted for previously. “I took out an all Clay Paky rig with Duran Duran last year; it proved such a success that I didn’t hesitate to repeat the choice with this production. I went to Neg Earth with a shopping list stacked full of Clay Paky units with the Sharpy Washes and A.leda right up there at the top. Across the range of units, they have really great optics, they’re bright and all the models are packed with features that allow me to explore the very limits of what my design can do. On this tour I am using the new Sharpy Wash for the first time and it hasn’t disappointed. Like the rest of the Clay Paky luminaires, they have clearly been designed with a winning combination of ingenuity and common sense.”
Common sense appears to be high on Foster’s talent tick sheet as Lindsey Markham, Neg Earth’s account handler for the Jessie J tour reflects, “It’s always a pleasure to work with Vince, he always has a clear vision of the artistic look for the show and in the same breath is very willing to work pragmatically as to how this is achieved – and it never fails to look great!”
Alongside the Sharpy Washes, Foster has a selection of Alpha Spot HPE 1500s, Sharpys and last but definitely not least, A.leda K20s in the rig; the features of each one complements the other as Foster explains: “The Alpha Spot HPE 1500s not only do the spot work on Jessie but are there to do all the gobo work on the backdrop as well. The A.leda are the main tool for the backdrop of course but it isn’t only their technical features that impress; the fact that they are lightweight enough for one person to rig makes a big difference in a touring environment, particularly when you playing venues in far flung destinations where stage crew may not be quite so experienced with the gear.”
Markham is in full agreement, “Of course client contentment of the performance of a luminaire is paramount but, on occasions, the more practical advantages of a unit is beneficial from more than one angle. Having such lightweight units means that we only need a single crew member out on this tour; that in turn benefits the production from a budget point of view as does the low power consumption when negotiating with promoters.”
And of course there is nothing a crew loves more than equipment that comes out of the truck and just does the job – day after day – as Foster explains, “Much as it would be great to see the guys from Ambersphere who are the distributor for Clay Paky products in the UK, unless something goes wrong I really don’t need to call them. And that simply hasn’t happened. It’s very reassuring to know that your lighting rig is so reliable but equally, should the unexpected happen, I will get support wherever and whenever we are, be it out in North Africa, at a festival date in the summer or in Belfast where we begin our UK tour in October”.
And is there anything else on Foster’s wish list? “The ultimate light would be a wash and a spot in the same unit – I’m wondering how long it will be before the guys at Clay Paky manage that particular conundrum. Until then I’ll be more than happy with what they’ve delivered so far!”