First Robe Paintes light New Century Manchester
Wednesday, 26 October 2022
robe-new-century-manchester-hard-fi-55-photo-by-honey-productionsThe building has been completely refurbished and restored
UK - Fourteen fixtures from the first batch of Robe Painte moving lights off the production line have been installed as part of the house lighting rig at central Manchester’s New Century venue, a recently renovated 1200 (standing) capacity, multipurpose music, performance and event space in the city’s NOMA business and entertainment district.
The building has been completely refurbished and restored to its original 1960s glory when leading acts of the day graced the stage.
The 14 Paintes were specified, together with LEDBeam 150s and 350s, by Neil Hunt from ZigZag Lighting in Leeds, who came onboard to consult, specify, supply, deliver and commission the house lighting production package.
Neil worked closely with Abby Moore, one of the venue’s directors, to establish what was needed in terms of stage lighting production, and then weighed up the options to bring as much “flexibility and value as possible to this fantastic space.”
The venue can be standing or seated (800 capacity) and already has a lively, all-action schedule including many music concerts programmed by Manchester-based promoter Now Wave, as well as staging a diverse line up of other events from boxing to corporates.
Seeking a “truly adaptable, rider-friendly and bang up-to-date” lighting solution, Hunt, who uses a lot of Robe in his various projects, immediately thought of Robe’s new Painte which has just been launched and introduced to the market.
He then added eight of the new LEDBeam 350 to the list. Its 3.8-to-60-degree zoom proved a complete winner to cover the 15m-wide stage and the small size enabled optimisation of the 5m headroom.
“These two fixtures ticked all the boxes,” stated Neil, adding, “Painte is very contemporary, small, punchy, super-fast, it creates nice beams, has a good range of gobos, accurate framing shutters and iris control plus a great zoom,” he says. The Painte’s light weight was another advantage that “maximised any spare load capacity in the system, also allowing greater latitude for what incoming shows can ultimately achieve with their lighting”.
The dancefloor is around 25sq.m and the LEDBeams on the front truss can also be used to illuminate this when needed.
For additional tight beam effects and to contrast with the Paintes, 14 of Robe’s little LEDBeam 150s were added, rigged on the three over-stage trusses.
“A great complement to the other Robe fixtures and outstandingly priced,” said Hunt elucidating that because they also go from a tiny beam to a wide wash and have strobe and pulse effects, they are “truly multifunctional” and a great asset to a venue like this.
There are also some conventional strobes and LED blinders in the rig, all controlled by an Avolites Tiger Touch II Pro console. Visiting productions / tours can also bring in their own consoles and floor packages and hook into the house ‘top’ lighting system.
New Century’s resident lighting designer is Emma Towers, who has worked at several venues around Manchester including Victoria Warehouse, Mayfield Depot and Manchester Academy.
Production manager Mish Thompson approved the lighting budget and was impressed by Hunt’s specification, “It looked like a great choice of fixtures to cover the wide variety of shows we are staging here,” she said, observing that the stage lighting also works well in conjunction with the venue’s bespoke LED ceiling feature lighting installation which covers much of the auditorium roof with full colour changing.
Originally built in 1963 for the Co-Operative Insurance Society, the now heritage listed venue has seen performances from Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Tina Turner and many more. At the end of the 20th century, it became a charismatic space for ‘MADchester’ era rave parties at the heady start of that movement.
The New Century performance space was officially reopened on 20 September 2022 with a show by ‘John Cooper Clarke.

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