Renegade plane magic for Kasabian

Monday, 19 September 2011
Renegade plane magic for KasabianGray lit the exterior of the plane to enhance the complete element of surprise
UK - Lighting designer Nick Gray of Renegade - well known for his work in fashion and live music - has worked on many shows in strange and idiosyncratic places in his day - but a recent Kasabian gig for music video website Vevo broke new ground, staged aboard a disused Boeing 474 airliner which has lain abandoned at Buntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire, UK, for some years.

As soon as Gray got wind of the event - attended by some 160 lucky Vevo competition winners - he jumped at the challenge of lighting a very intimate space inside as well as the enormous industrial form of the 747's exterior, an iconic shape in aviation history. "It was the most amazing and totally atmospheric site-specific setting," he states, "And apart from that, lighting it required some serious imagination and lateral thinking".

The video - released as part of the new Vevo Presents series to coincide with the band's new album, Velociraptor - saw them perform a special set in this unusual location - an idea first mooted by songwriter and vocalist Serge Pizzorno.

The gig was kept a complete secret until the audience actually arrived on site. Gray lit the exterior of the plane to enhance the complete element of surprise once they arrived and started figuring out what was happening - as the great hulk was revealed spectacularly through the twilight.

He did this using a platoon of Manfrotto wind-up stands, all rigged with 1Kw PAR VNSP (#1 bulbs), about 40 in total. The stands were elevated to 12ft high and the lights blasted through the windows into the fuselage, which is a completely stripped out shell. The band performed on a stage in the tail end.

The mega bright, tight narrow spot beams sliced dramatically through the smoke filled interior cabin, bringing an edge and a sense of eeriness and mystery to the visual equation. "I was trying to emphasise ideas of anticipation, uniqueness and something different whilst also lighting a rock 'n roll show, which is essentially what it was," explains Gray. "It was really important to visually enhance the specific aura of an extraordinary one off experience - for both the band and guests."

The carcass of the plane was extremely tight for space to establish any lighting positions. An approximately 18 ft wide by 20 ft deep stage was installed in the tail end on which the band played. Around the back and sides of this, Gray placed upright trussing towers of varying heights, and he also made use of a large RSJ at the back that is part of the plane's superstructure.

He chose small, lightweight and powerful lighting fixtures, with Martin Professional MAC 250 Entour moving lights rigged on the uprights, plus two on flight cases on the stage, plus 12 MAC 101 LED washes, eight Atomic strobes and 12 single Molefey units. PARs were used for additional front light, together with another four MAC 301s on the floor, up-lighting the band.

All the lights were programmed by Gray and Paul Kell (PK) onto a Hog 3 console which was operated by PK for the performance. Everything - including audio and backline - was run off generator power, with lighting equipment supplied by Neg Earth.

As soon as the show was over, Nick Gray changed planes and flew to New York to work on a NY Fashion Week show for leading label Mulberry, where Kasabian continued their 'performances at height' scenario, playing a show on a rooftop in downtown Manhattan.

(Jim Evans)

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