Portsmouth, UK — With its glass pyramid structure having welcomed everyone from Muse to Coldplay through the years, the Portsmouth Pyramids has been an iconic stop on the UK touring band circuit. Its proud musical pedigree notwithstanding, however, the Pyramids leads something of a double life today. When it isn’t rocking as a concert venue on weekends, it’s serving as a leisure centre during the week. This multi-functionality makes the facility more valuable to its community, but it also creates a challenge when lighting concerts. Local company GLS Lighting has met this challenge quite brilliantly with some help from CHAUVET Professional’s Rogue Series of moving fixtures.
“It isn’t practical to have a fixed concert house rig here, because the building functions as a leisure centre on weekdays,” said Ian Turner of GLS Lighting, who was tasked with providing the venue with a new concert lighting system. “We knew that to have a rig that provided the big vibrant looks that everyone expects to see at a concert venue today, we would need to have a rig that could be rolled in and out on weekends, rather than a permanent house rig.”
GLS created just such a rig at the 1,000-capacity venue, using a combination of Rogue R1 Beams and Rogue R2 Washes. “Our task with lighting this particular venue was threefold,” said Turner. “Firstly, we needed a set of high output fixtures that can animate the unique pyramid space of the venue. Secondly, we need it to be easy to move in and out of the venue. Thirdly, although we needed to keep up with the technology of the times, we couldn’t spend a lot of money, so we wanted a combination of technology and value.”
Turner described how the Rogue fixtures helped him meet these goals. “We selected six R1 Beams for their incredibly punchy beams, which are extremely bright despite their compact size,” he detailed. “We are able to utilise the powerful reach of the beams to their full extent, shooting far into the cavernous roof and giving the impression of a much larger venue for the crowd. For their part, the Rogue R2 Washes give us the ability to cover the stage with a rainbow of colours – and all of this was achieved at a reasonable cost.”
The first band to headline the Pyramids under the lights of the new Rogue dominated system were cult Britpop guitar band, The Bluetones. As the band had no lighting director, GLS took care of the lighting show, and employed all elements to stunning effect, including six Rogue R2 Spots. “The Spots have a great selection of gobos,” said Turner. “Combined with the two colour wheels and the three prisms, we’ve able to introduce a vast array of features for both our in-house LDs and for the visiting lighting designers. Not bad considering we started out supplying the venue with a few old static par cans!”
With the long-range visuals taken care of, Turner and his team elected for a staggering 12 Rogue R2 Wash fixtures – placed on the above stage truss – to provide saturated deep wash colours and textures for the stage area. “The R2 Washes are pretty amazing fixtures; they’re able to provide both a wide wash and a narrower beam, giving the visiting lighting designers plenty to play with.”
Investing in the CHAUVET Professional rig has also had several practical advantages for the rental company and venue, according to Turner. “The compact size of the Rogues is great for us, seeing as we have to load in and out twice a week. They’re also light, so maneuverability isn’t hampered,” he said. “The venue also going to see some benefits in the short to medium term with respect to a reduced power draw. Thanks to the LED light source replacing the old tungsten elements, the economics and reliability have improved greatly for both parties.”
With several cult UK music venues having closed their doors due to financial issues (London’s Astoria in 2009, for example) and countless others under threat, the UK music scene needs its iconic venues more than ever. With the Pyramids sharing its existence during the daylight hours with non-rock and roll activities, its existence is ensured.
Thanks to this latest CHAUVET Professional acquisition from GLS Lighting, however, the Pyramids has secured more than merely an existence. Only with a genuinely progressive selection of lighting fixtures can a venue claim to cater for the most challenging of rock concerts. With its selection of CHAUVET Professional fixtures, the reputation of the Pyramids is secured.