English indie rock band Bloc Party are currently in the midst of their biggest, most ambitious tour to date. The ‘Four’ Tour completed 2012 in Mexico and, so far, 2013 has taken them across the USA then on to Europe, via Japan. The end of February will see the band playing to a 19,000 strong audience at Earls Court before March escorts the tour down to Australia and the Far East.
The lighting design reflects the band’s persona; direct, clean, sharp and uncompromising. Rob Sinclair, designer of both set and design sums it up succinctly, “Set, light and lasers exist as a whole, unified visual force.” A designer with names such as the Kaiser Chiefs, Peter Gabriel and Pulp under his belt, Sinclair is straightforward about his choice of lights for the show: “I’ve been using Clay Paky products on a regular basis since I first programmed a show with four Golden Scan Mk1s in 1992!” His association with Clay Paky suppliers, Ambersphere goes back a long way and, as a designer, he values their support. As he explains, “I’ve known Glyn O’Donoghue, Ambersphere’s Managing Director, for a long time; he’s always been very supportive of me and my, sometimes silly ideas.”
“For the Bloc Party design, I needed a light source that was going to successfully compete with lasers and a lot of 8-lite moles,” continues Sinclair. “The capabilities of the Sharpy are simply legendary while the high output and tight zoom of the QWO 800 were exactly what I was looking for – I needed a large quantity – and there are 44 on the rig. Jon Greaves at Lite Alternative supplied them at, I may say, at a really reasonable cost. For a tour working as hard as this, we needed something that ticked all the boxes. I’d used them before, liked them and was happy to use them again.”
With a total of 22 Sharpys alongside the 44 QWO 800s, Clay Paky provide the backbone of Sinclair’s design, giving board operator Louisa Smurthwaite an envious and almost unlimited amount of choice to work with. “Louisa has been doing a great job of running the show on tour,” confirms Sinclair. “The intensity of the light source means that the Clay Pakys are not swamped by the lasers and can work in tandem with them.”
Clay Paky’s long term association with TV and the talent show genre may suggest to some that their luminaires are not necessarily kitted out to withstand the rigours of heavy touring but Sinclair is happy to endorse their reliability. “They have proved an extremely durable choice. Not only that, our crew chief, Alex Johnson has gone on record citing appreciation of their menus: well laid out and easy to navigate. Their low power consumption and lightness in weight make them the ideal touring unit.”
Sinclair is currently working on pre-production for his next show – yet to be announced. There are no details available for the lighting rig as yet but as Sinclair himself says, “I’m really excited about the new Sharpy Wash 330. I may just have to visit Ambersphere and take advantage of Glyn’s excellent coffee machine.”