Robe lights ABBA Orchestral extravaganza
Friday, 24 June 2022
robe-abba-orchestral-2022-terr1954The set was a fully live reprise of ABBA’s numerous greatest hits (photo: Terry McDonagh)
Ireland - Lighting designer Liam McCarthy utilised 100 Robe moving lights for a spectacular special performance of ABBA Orchestral at Dublin’s 3 Arena, featuring the Waterloo Concert Orchestra and conductor and arranger, Andy O’Callaghan.
The set was a fully live reprise of ABBA’s numerous greatest hits, which Liam notes instinctually returned to his subconscious as he ran the show, mainly improv style, utilising pre-sets and palettes programmed and set up to work in this fashion. “It’s a very exciting and satisfying way to operate,” he comments.
Liam has worked with the concert’s promoters on several other projects and was delighted to be back on this one that was postponed last year due to COVID.
Just Lites was the lighting supplier, a Dublin-based rental and technical production specialist with whom Liam works closely.
A major objective was to fill the 3 Arena with plenty of classic glitzy and disco moments, so he picked Robe BMFL Spots as his power lights, Spiider LED wash beams for covering the stage and orchestra, T1 Profiles for key lighting and Pointes for delivering the main effect lights.
“This selection of fixtures covered all the elements,” he states. “Brightness to energise the audience and pull them into the show coupled with some refinement plus an endless array of cool looks.”
It was a massive production to light. The impressive set of tiered orchestra risers with set flats at the back and a large upstage LED screen created a dramatic picture onstage for the many dynamic elements - strings, brass, rhythm section, percussion, backing singers, soloists plus the band - all of which fused into an ABBA musical experience.
The 28 Spiiders were rigged on three over-stage trusses to provide the base washes for the 45-piece orchestra and the band. With so many people to cover, Liam needed a lightsource that was intense but not distracting.
A key requirement was to include the audience in the action as this was a major sing-along event, so BMFL Spots were a go-to “super-bright and highly versatile base lightsource” that could throw beams out into the audience connecting them with all the exuberance being generated onstage.
The 32 Pointes were rigged on six vertical truss towers upstage, importing a bit of rock ‘n’ roll for the occasion, positioned either side of the main video screen and in between that and the side flats. Some Pointes were in the roof, with two deployed on the deck to complete a timeless mirror ball flourish during Dancing Queen.
Pointes are another ‘go-to’ fixture for Liam. He frequently uses them with the prism in and observes that this looks particularly good when layered or contrasted with the BMFL’s fat beams also dissected with gobos and prisms.
The 10 T1 Profiles were all rigged on the front truss and used for specials and for key lighting soloists and Andy O’Callaghan. It is a luminaire that Liam thinks is “fantastic for this job, bringing a beautiful quality of light to the faces”.
The main challenge in lighting this interactive performance was to recall the massive back catalogue of Abba hits that unfolded to the delight of the audience during the two-hour show, which is why Liam was pleasantly surprised at how much had actually lodged in his head from childhood.
He built potent and intricate cues full of colour and effects on his Hog 4 console that could be seamlessly amalgamated in different combinations to give a diverse range of epic looks from disco fun to power ballads.
“It was a big, big show and enormous fun to light,” he enthuses. “It was party time!”
Mark Hanna was the systems tech and Shane Fogarty the rigger.
ABBA Orchestral is set to return for in March 2023, followed the next day by a new concert concept - IBIZA Orchestral - featuring DJ Roger Sánchez.

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