Seventy-four Xtylos are deployed on the tour (photo: RalphLarmann)
USA - When Coldplay performed a sold-out show in Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena last October, lighting designer Sooner Routhier of Sooner Rae Creative used 64 Claypaky Xtylos luminaires that dazzled the audience. The fixtures were the centrepiece of her design for the show that ringed a massive circular truss mounted over the stage.
The stand-alone concert, presented by Amazon Music and live streamed worldwide on Amazon, was part of a global promotional tour of single shows in support of the band’s ninth studio album, Music of the Spheres.
For the ambitious Seattle show, Routhier and her team “essentially created a full-size arena production for a 20-plus-camera, global live broadcast with three days on site and five days of previs,” she points out. “It really does come down to the team; it’s a massive collaborative effort to get something like that off the ground, and every person on the crew was essential to making the show happen. We were able to do previs in a ballroom at the hotel to minimize our travel (and carbon footprint) while Claypaky and Upstaging collaborated on logistics to get us Xtylos units in previs to play with. That was a total game changer for us.”
The show’s lighting programmer/lighting operator Shaheem Litchmore recalls, “Everyone was raving about the Xtylos. The physical style and design of the fixture fit the aesthetic of our show flawlessly, while the impressive laser source output allowed us to keep our power consumption low. Also, no challenges presented themselves while programming this show. I was very impressed with the Xtylos’s versatility.
A prime example of Xtylos performance at the Seattle show was its use on the song People of the Pride which progressed from a colour to a black-and-white look. “The band wanted to feel the energy of this song on stage: The beat of People of the Pride is very heavy and quite uniform in the hooks. It has a different feel from the rest of the more melodic setlist,” explains Routhier. “We needed this song to stand out and were happy that director Paul Dugdale wanted to shoot it in a unique way. The idea to go from colour to black and white on camera was all him. We just made sure he had the proper light to keep his vision alive.”
“The Seattle show came off beautifully, with all the disparate elements combining to create a stunning final result,” says Claypaky strategic marketing manager, George Masek. “What was most impressive to me was the way everything was achieved with such tight timelines and logistical limitations.”
With such a positive experience with Xtylos under their belts, Routhier and her team wanted to use Xtylos again when Coldplay commenced their Music of the Spheres World Tour in April. “They were the perfect fixtures for our current creative on the tour,” Litchmore, who serves as the tour’s lighting operator, points out.
Routhier explains how Misty Buckley and Phil Harvey, the co-creative directors of the tour, developed a production design and creative direction inspired by Pythagoras’s Music of the Spheres theory. “There’s a specific diagram that displays the arcs and movement of the solar system and its celestial bodies that we leaned on for inspiration,” says Routhier. “Thus, the architecture for the lighting design and the cuing of the system is heavily based on spheres, circles and arcs.”
Seventy-four Xtylos are deployed on the tour with the majority placed on a large upstage arch directly behind and above the upstage videowall, she points out. Some also are suspended from delay towers and onstage audio towers.
“We love colour. And the Xtylos provide such a beautiful beam in stunning, vibrant color,” says Routhier. “They also provide a nice, solid beam of light over extreme distances – perfect for a large stadium show.”
As the tour enters its sixth month, Litchmore reports that the Xtylos “continue to amaze.
“Despite difficult weather conditions, including extreme heat, rain and more, the Xtylos never fails. With our outdoor show the fixtures [are subject to] the usual wear and tear one would expect, but I’m never worried. Come showtime, they are always ready to go and continue to be one of the essential pieces of our show.”
The support that Routhier and her team have received from Claypaky for the tour is “amazing” according to Routhier. “We’re always so well taken care of when George Masek is our representative. Claypaky does an incredible job of following up with us throughout the tour.”
You can read more about Coldplay’s tour in the upcoming September issue of LSi.

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