Vari-Lite drives all night with Springsteen

Friday, 24 August 2012

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Europe - Bruce Springsteen is a rock star that loves to play live. For his lighting designer Jeff Ravitz, keeping the visual excitement real can be quite a challenge. Although Springsteen has sold more than 120m albums worldwide, he is notorious for his unofficially extended concerts and it is Ravitz's job to stay one step ahead of his, sometimes unpredictable, programme.

For example, just this summer an over run in Hyde Park, London saw Springsteen unceremoniously switched off. This however did not deter him from concluding his 2012 European leg in Helsinki in true Springsteen style playing a personal record-breaking four hours and six minutes. Such capricious behaviour means Ravitz has to be quick thinking, focused and have a lighting design and system that offers maximum flexibility, power, and of course subtlety.

Forming the backbone of his lighting rig is a battalion of Philips Vari-Lite luminaires including 21 VL2500 Spots, 22 VL3000 Spots, 15 VL1100TSD luminaires and a VL3500 Spot. As Ravitz points out, "I have to be ready for anything at any time. I endeavour to craft each and every song as a unique mini-design in itself, ensuring that the look responds directly to the emotions, rhythms, and melodies."

Fixtures are strategically positioned with each luminaire's placement carefully calculated. "I've always been a fan of the Vari-Lite optics, punch and overall quality of movement. The effective results of those features alone can make or break the design. In addition the Vari-Lite stock gobos are really useful, and we also add custom gobos as well," comments Ravitz

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's show is a slick well-oiled machine of musical energy and personal messages but like most live concerts, there's no theme that conveys a single idea throughout. "Bruce's show is 25-30 individual mini productions," explains Ravitz. "Each has its own beginning, middle and end. I want to deliver a design that does justice to his performance - a mixture of introspection, love, lust, friends, politics, etc - each with different tempos and volumes."

Morpheus Lights, based in Las Vegas, supplied all the equipment and crew for the UK and European legs, as well as in the ongoing US Tour. Ravitz concludes: "The reports I get from the backstage tech department is that the lights take to the road well and don't require excessive maintenance, despite being bounced inside a truck and then being hung in some pretty unfriendly environments on a daily basis."

(Jim Evans)

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