Elation lights Santana's US tour
Tuesday, 3 September 2019
elationPhoto: Steve Jennings
USA - One of the summer’s more successful US tours has been Carlos Santana’s Supernatural Now outing with opening band The Doobie Brothers, two acts with roots that stretch back decades that can still pack a house. Equally experienced is LD Michael Ledesma, who has designed the lighting for the tour and is out on the road operating the show.
The Supernatural Now tour kicked off in June and celebrates two important anniversaries in the band’s history: the 20th anniversary of their blockbuster Supernatural album and the 50th anniversary of Santana’s legendary performance at the 1969 Woodstock music festival. Naturally, iconic tunes associated with both occasions fill the show with select songs from the artist’s 2019 Africa Speaks album also on the set-list.
Ledesma has worked with Santana for years and uses Elation Protron Eclypse hybrid LED luminaires and Seven Batten 14 LED strip lights, together with a full moving head rig and backdrop LED screen, to complement the artist’s trademark guitar riffs and crowd-pleasing hits. Both luminaires give Ledesma plenty of possibilities to lay down his signature vivid colours and layers.
“The Protron Eclypse units definitely stick out,” says the designer, who has 14 upstage units lining vertical LED strips for wash onto the band and strobe effects with another 10 on a mid-stage half-circle truss washing the audience. “We use them for different types of chases, split the cells up, and generally use them for a lot of effects. They work really well for that.”
Multi-faceted to take on a number of roles in a rig, the Eclypse’s 27,000+ total lumen output also makes it an effective wash luminaire. “They do great lighting the audience and light all the way to the back of 20,000 seat venues so they are quite powerful,” Ledesma states. “I like using those upstage 12 as a wash. I can take out the other lights and have a really clean and even wash from those.”
The designer also uses Elation lights on the guitar legend’s House of Blues residency in Las Vegas, a rig he has been handling for the last six years. There, he has been using Seven Battens as floor uplights but for the “Supernatural Now” tour he re-positioned them underneath the upstage video screen for chases and low backlight onto the band.
“The Seven Battens are very bright and take the same colour palette that the [Elation] Arena Pars used to have in the House of Blues rig,” he says of the linear, 7-colour LED lighting effect. “It matches well with the rig and their rectangular look matches the Eclypse’s that are in the upstage rig.” And at only 14 inches long, they take up little space underneath the screen.
As with Santana’s House of Blues shows, Innovative Concert Lighting serves as lighting vendor on the Supernatural Now tour, which is selling out everywhere. Santana will be on the road with The Doobie Brothers through the end of August before returning for a run of House of Blues shows.

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