Black Pumas play Chicago’s Salt Shed (photo: Derek Smith)
USA - Lighting designer Marc Janowitz from E26 Design loves creative challenges and collaborations, so the current Chronicles of a Diamond world tour by Black Pumas energised his imagination and united the talents of the FOH lighting team as programmer Meagan Metcalf and lighting director Alyssa Milione worked closely with him to create a great look for the band.
The lighting kit had to fit into one truck, a galvanising resource boundary that provokes invention and thinking out of the box, so Marc crafted an aesthetic for the band utilising the smart integration of lighting and a multi-dimensional scenic backdrop to produce truly stunning results with Robe moving lights right at the heart of the visual magic.
Marc opted for a combination of Esprites, Spiider wash beams, MegaPointes, Spikie+s and Tetra2s.
Wanting to formulate a fresh look, Marc’s ideas involved dovetailing Black Pumas developing brand identity and album art, and as part of this process, having a link to previous successful live show styling. He describes it as “a kind of a shapeshifting through-line” permeating the work.
The striking Puma-based logo was a major visual starting point, transformed for this tour into a practical 3D dimensional curtain & lightbox. The show’s narrative arc is loosely related to the journey of a diamond, starting as rough, untouched raw beauty that can become sculpted into an elegant gem.
Plenty of split beam lighting effects would be required to produce abstract physical manifestations of diamonds with beams shooting through faceted glass, so three 24-inch mirror balls were added to the overhead rig, paired with three 24-inch half mirror balls on the deck. He wanted the capacity to emulate some of the colour bleed-through effects of the album cover artwork, so lighting the backdrop from behind became integral to the plan, and in turn, the puma eyes and teeth of the backdrop are made from transparent material.
To assist with this part of the design, he turned to the fabric and stage ‘softs’ experts at Rose Brand.
Ten Robe Tetra2 fixtures light the negative space behind in the backdrop, combined with pixel dot fixtures built into custom light boxes positioned behind the teeth and eyes, all working together.
Four MegaPointes are rigged on the upstage lighting truss, which is in front of the rear scenic truss, with four of the other 12 MegaPointes deployed one each on top of four onstage vertical truss towers, and the other eight scattered around the stage floor.
The 16 x Spikie+’s are rigged in four ‘whisker’ positions, two above and two on the deck.
The two overhead whisker bars are in the upstage corners, each rigged with four Spikie+’s and are secured at 45-degree angles via drop bars from the truss, and these are matched on the floor by two customised truss stands giving the same angles in the mirror positions below, both also with four Spikie+’s each. These are effectively ‘surrounding’ the backdrop.
Three Spiiders on each of the four side / floor towers light the band and the downstage area, with two additional Spiiders further downstage on the floor covering lead singer, Eric Burton.
The seven Esprites are on the upstage truss and function as workhorse back lights. Marc comments that they are “perfect for the size, weight and features with a nice flat beam, great shuttering, and excellent value”. Lighting vendor for the US legs of the tour was Gateway Studios & Production Services, which has large quantities of Esprites and other Robe products.
Keeping everything rolling smoothly on the road is Black Puma’s tour director Mitchell Kenne, production manager Chris Worley, and tour manager Joel Pryor. The world tour continues through 2024.

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