Nielson Trust plays Cheap Trick with Chauvet
Wednesday, 27 April 2022
neilson-trustThe concert was livestreamed for a corporate audience
USA - The band played mostly Cheap Trick songs during its hour-long set, but this was no ordinary tribute show. In fact, it wasn’t an ordinary concert of any kind, taking place as it did in a private airport hangar with no live audience.
Once the music started, both of those things were quickly forgotten, as the mood took on the look and feel of one of those wall-rattling performances that made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band famous a generation ago.
The authenticity of the music was easy to explain. The band on stage, The Neilson Trust, is made up of Rick Nielson, an original member of Cheap Trick, along with his sons Drax Nielson (who also played with the group), and Miles Nielson, as well as Miles’ wife Kelly Stewart.
For the looks on stage, credit must go to lighting designer Sean Denny and programmer Garrett VanderVeen of Luxe Productions, who used a rig anchored by Chauvet Professional Rogue and Nexus fixtures to support the music with richly textured production looks, complete with immersive colour washes, an illuminated drum riser, crossing beams, and dazzling bump effects.
“This was an internal weeklong conference for a corporate client that was entirely livestreamed this year,” said Denny. “The concert took place on a Wednesday evening and was put on as a benefit show for a non-profit, livestreamed for attendees to view.
“The basis of our design was a diamond stage, and equally sized diamond truss hang above,” continued Denny. “As most of the setlist was Cheap Trick songs, we wanted to pay homage to lighting designs of the past, while modernizing them. Our goal was to create a design that was interesting and exciting over the course of an hour-plus livestream.”
It was important to Denny that the show have a unified look for each song, with limited changes throughout to allow the livestream camerawork to flow seamlessly. However, he also wanted the design to look completely different for each song. As a result, most songs were lit with only half his rig at any given time.
Helping Denny achieve this vision were 12 Rogue R2 Wash fixtures as well as 16 Nexus Aw 7x7 and eight Nexus 4x4 units. The Rogues were arranged evenly along the perimeter of the stage, with six fixtures providing mood-setting backlighting of the band members and six used for side lighting.
“We had the Rogues on for virtually every song,” said Denny. “They were the backbone of our design. Changing the colour washes was essential to creating different looks so the show was varied and interesting in a way that came off very easily on camera.”
While the Nexus 4x4 panels were used to outline the drum riser and wash the stage, the Nexus Aw 7x7 delivered narrow beams of intense warm white light downward from the overhead truss grid.
“The 7x7 fixtures were big eye candy effects,” said Denny. “We rolled them out for big moments. As I mentioned, we wanted to pay homage to the lighting designs of past Cheap Trick shows, while also modernizing them. This was my main reason for using the 7x7 panels. My vision of them was to create a modern day version of a par/ACL look. The warm white colouring matched that of the older pars, and the tight beam again brought me back to those classic rock shows.”
Outside-the-box lighting moves like this one are reminiscent of a philosophy espoused by Rick Nielsen himself, who once declared: “Playing it safe isn’t fun. You have to take a chance.”

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