Westlife with Bandit Lites & XL Video
Tuesday, 7 May 2002
Westlife with Bandit Lites & XL Video
Westlife kicked off their ‘World of Our Own’ global tour in Europe with a spectacular lighting rig supplied by Bandit Lites and video expertise from XL Video. By the end of the European leg of the tour in June alone, Westlife will have played to nearly a million people, and the tour is destined to be one of the most successful and high profile of the year.

The lighting design was a collaboration between the show's technical director Phay MacMahon and LD Barry Halpin. MacMahon also designed the stunning in-the-round stage and set (both on the ground and in the air). With in-the-round being the most challenging of live performance perspectives, MacMahon and Halpin have created a breathtaking show full of drama and surprise. Bandit Lites - who also supplied Westlife's first tour last year - mustered over 120 moving lights - including 45 Martin MAC 2000s, 40 MAC 600s, 20 MAC 500s and 10 MAC 300s. Other fixtures include six-lamp Par bars, 2-lite Moles, 20 strings of Par 36 and 64 ACLs and a bunch of PAR 64 truss toners.

The complex, attractive geometric lines of the truss design are based on a perimeter pentagonal truss, and five individual internal acute triangle shaped trusses. The truss shapes compliment the five-sided contours of the stage, which is constructed from five individual segments slotting together to provide an central five sided 'circular' walkway, with holes for the musicians and monitors. Ten, 4-metre 'dog leg' pre-rigged truss fingers radiate outwards from the centre axis, each acting as hanging points for front and rear key-lighting fixtures focussed along the central walkway. The 47-tonne rig is secured in the roof with 130 points, 82 motors are in the air with the rest sub hung.

Lighting truss motors were all supplied by Bandit. Star Rigging's five-person team work closely with all production departments including the six Bandit crew and Halpin. Ten triangular trusses physically move during the show. For this, Bandit custom-designed and built a special motor control system and desk. The desk, complete with pictorial Westlife fascia - has all the relevant motor switches laid out logically, mimicking their shape and format in the roof, allowing easily selection and manual movement by pressing big tactile knobs.

Steven 'Nipper' Fitch operates the motor control for the show and comments: "Bandit has done a brilliant job on this motor controller. In situations like this, it's vital to have active hands-on control, and the movement accuracy is far more precise when done manually in these circumstances."

XL Video - live touring video specialists - are supplying all video equipment and crew for the tour, via large screen entertainment specialists Blink TV. Blink TV uses the screens in the pre-show and changeover times of the gig to run specially programmed entertainment footage specific to the artist, and is thereby able to subside the cost of a complex video package to the artist.

The Westlife features a four-screen central 14ft x 10ft video cube, constructed from 36 panels of 10 mm pixel pitch Lighthouse LED, which flies in and out. The total weight of the structure is two tonnes and it’s rigged off a box truss suspended by eight Lodestar motors, rigged by production riggers Star rigging.

Video director is Blue Leach, who also directed Westlife’s first Coast To Coast tour last year. Working in-the-round is one of the most challenging environments for live video, and many of the usual tricks simply won’t work in that dimension - so some lateral thinking is required. Five Sony D35 cameras are supplying the live playback, which is inter-cut with pre-recorded footage, shot by Leach on DV in the run up to the tour. Live, he mixes using a GVG4000 mixer/switcher, programmed to allow him to throw any source onto any surface any time. His mixing style is spontaneous, improvised daily to keep it stimulating. "It’s an organic process," says Leach.

The XL Video crew are Gerry Corry, Andy Bramle

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