‘The whole show is pre-programmed but triggered live, with no timecode’
UK - The line between the stage and audience quickly becomes blurred to the point of obliteration on Idles’ current world tour. Rocking out the crowd with their relentlessly intense vocals, the award-winning band from Bristol jumps right into things, quite literally, as the guitarists invariably leave the stage at some points in the show to crowd surf the giant mosh pits that gather before them.
A key part of the high-octane lightshow that adds to the wildly embracive atmosphere of the band’s performance night after night is an abundance of stage-melting strobing.
“Idles take their strobing extremely seriously,” said Ed Warren, their lighting designer. Warren, who has been lighting Idles since 2018, acknowledges that sometimes he wonders if he is strobing too much. However, when he brings this up to the band, their response typically runs along the lines of “you’re not strobing enough!”
“The intense strobing is all well and good, but you can’t strobe the entire show, so you have to be creative with your effects,” he explained. “I use strobes as key light sources and enjoy flipping between lighting the band from the back, the sides, and the front.”
Warren, who used his ChamSys MagicQ MQ500M when designing the show, has also added an extra dimension to its looks though the adroit used of colour combinations and light angles. “I think a lot of people would expect a traditional rock light show but I like to blend colours in unique ways, never using more than two for any song,” he said. “I limit myself a lot, not only with colours, but also with positions. This helps me be more inventive with what I have left. We also try and keep light movement out of the show. The band move about enough on stage as it is.”
After pre-programming the show in his home studio over a three-day period, Warren tested positive for COVID just as production rehearsals were about to begin. Unable to go on the tour himself, he preprogramed the show and turned it over to his long-time friend, Div Macintyre, to run on the MQ500M.
“The whole show is pre-programmed but triggered live, with no timecode,” said Warren. “Div had hundreds of cues and specific hits to remember and did so with aplomb. He has also been very clever with his fixture morphing and cloning to accommodate different sized venues and stages. I programmed the show on my ChamSys to be adaptable to different types of rigs by limiting the number of positions, gobos, and colours.
“In addition to Div, Steve, Mike and Ryan at LCR, and all the brilliant techs they’ve supplied deserve a lot of credit for making a tour of this size come off,” continued Warren. “Robin Genetier, Idles’ tireless tour manager deserves a great deal of credit as well.”
Also coming in for praise from Warren was his MagicQ MQ500M. “This console has truly made my life easier,” he said.

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