The Greatest Hits tour kicked off at Newcastle’s O2 City Hall (photo: Joe Horridge)

UK - Johnny Marr had some very definite ideas about the kinds of looks he wanted on stage for his Greatest Hits tour, which kicked off at Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on 2 April, with lighting design by Ed Warren.

“Johnny and I have a really good relationship,” said Warren. “We spent a fair bit of time hanging out and chatting before coming up with any kind of plan for this tour.  Once we had this decided, I programmed the entire show at home on my MQ70 using Capture over the course of a couple of weeks.

“Since Johnny’s studio is so close to me, I would pop round to see him every few weeks and talk about life, love, football and of course music. He would explain to me the moments he felt things should happen and would even give me background behind meanings of songs. This really helped me interpret them into light. Of course, this was pretty mind blowing for me, being a Smiths fan for the best part of 30 years.”

The collaboration between the musician and lighting designer, incubated over a decade-and-a-half long friendship resulted in a deeply evocative show that reflected the myriad moods of Marr’s music, from his time with The Smiths, as well as The Pretenders, Modest Mouse, Talking Heads and more.

Programmed by Warren on his MagicQ MQ70 with a MacBook Pro and run on tour by Subul Lodi on a MagicQ MQ250M Stadium Console, the lightshow moved in harmony to the music with plenty of ballyhoo specials and fast movements along with some thoughtful warm white moments.

“Subul operated the console, and she pretty much learned ChamSys for this tour,” said Warren. “She had experience with it before, but not as far as taking an entire tour out. She came round to my studio and I walked her through everything including group cues. She picked it up like a duck to water. I was really impressed with her aptitude and spirit, as well as with how easy the MagicQ 250M is to learn.

“In addition to Subul, there were others who contributed to the success of the tour, including Will Waghorn the TM, and Adlib, which supplied lights and audio, along with account manager Oli Edwards, project manager Mike Blundell, tech Eliot Michaels, and tech Sam Boardman.”

Making life easier for Lodi as the board operator were the MagicQ’s Group Cues and FX Palettes. “These features were critically important, as it was a different house rig every day,” said Warren. “I programmed the show based off the London flown rig, which I spec’d, but Subul was met with a different prospect every day, be it lack of front light, adapting wash lights into strobes, and so on. She and the console handled it admirably.”

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