Colour Sound finds Common Ground at the O2
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
colour-sound-above--beyond-o2-aab0411179719Above & Beyond at London’s O2 Arena (photo: Lindsay Cave)
UK - Lighting and visuals rental specialist Colour Sound Experiment delivered lighting and video equipment for Neil Marsh’s show design for popular alt.trance aficionados Above & Beyond at London’s O2 Arena.
The one-off show was effectively a soft album launch for their new Common Ground work and comes ahead of an extensive 2018 tour which will kick off in the US.
Neil took the base elements of the design for this show from their recent AGBT250 show at the Gorge Amphitheatre, near Seattle in Washington State. The band host a weekly two hour radio show - Group Therapy Radio – and celebrate every 50 radio shows with a large ‘ABGT’ live event staged in a different county each time.
As a one-off, Neil’s philosophy was to take a lighting and video design concept that he knew worked very successfully and keep things straightforward given the timescale and high expectations of all involved for this London show.
He had to downscale the rig to fit it into the O2. As with all Above & Beyond live shows, he collaborated closely with the band’s Paavo Siljamäki on developing the stage presentation as well as with video designer and content producer Dylan Byrne from Bog Standard.
A single 15m wide by 6m high wide screen made-up from Colour Sound’s BT-7 LED product formed the backdrop, and this ran in conjunction with two side screens of the same LED, also in landscape format. At times all three had one large single image playing out across all three surfaces and other times they showed individual content.
The trussing structure featured three cross stage trusses, two running down each side of stage, with three separate ‘blinder’ trusses, which were slightly angled, each rigged with 24 x 2-lites and flown high up in the O2.
Audience interaction is right at the heart of Above & Beyond’s live shows, so getting the lighting reaching out into the crowds and enveloping them up in the energy of the performance is an aspect on which everyone works hard.
The 2-lite Mole count was bumped up to 96 with a string of another 24 fixtures running upstage across the deck.
For key lighting he added two small trusses, one flown slightly stage right and upstage of the band, rigged with three Robe Spiider LED wash beams which provided some nice back-lighting effects. Another small truss was in the corresponding stage left / downstage position, also with three Spiiders providing front key light.
In Seattle multiple Vari*Lite 6Ks were on the rig, and these were replaced at the O2 by 47 of Colour Sound’s TourPro AquaBeams which have a 440W short-arc lightsource. “They are solid, really intense and I was very happy with them,” commented Neil.
The fixtures were dotted around the over-stage trusses and on the floor. There was a semi-circle of AquaBeams on the downstage edge of the stage and more on a circular truss out in the arena, where they could become a kinetic roof effect that helped close down the space and keep the intimate and personal feel the band loves to create however big the actual space!
Twenty Robe BMFL Spots were deployed on the back and side trusses, giving the epic big light looks of the rig, and used for numerous sumptuous hi-impact wide gobo looks and classy fat beam scenes.
They blended with 28 more Spiiders which were also rigged on the trusses and the floor (in addition to the six front and back key lights).
At the back Neil created a wall of 15 x Portman P1s which produced pixel-pattern looks. Some of these were rigged on Manfrotto stands on the floor below the screen with others on drop bars off their own truss tucked in above the screen.
Their distinctive seven halogen bulbs were used to create a variety of looks. Neil had used them on the last European tour and for this show they were again pixel mapped via his ChamSys MQ500 console.
On top of this there were 30 x strobes and 24 x Showtec Sunstrips, the latter cladding the front of the DJ booth, where Neil wanted something different and a bit classier than the ‘standard’ strip of video screen.
Colour Sound also supplied 60Kgs of confetti and CO2 canons which were fired spectacularly into the crowd at the end of the show, bringing the action packed gig to a tumultuous close.
Colour Sound’s crew was chiefed by Sam Campbell, who was joined by Karl Lawton, Fergus Nobile, Jason Tuffin, Tom White, Mel Cornish, Stu Barr, Rosie Haigh and Sarah Payne with Jani Fodor tech’ing the video.
“The service from Colour Sound was fantastic as always” stated Neil, “A one off arena show is always logistically challenging, but they delivered at every stage of the process and sent a really excellent crew to site who were fast, efficient and a joy to work with.”
(Jim Evans)

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