As if designing lighting for a Pink Floyd tribute concert — with its requisite mind-blowing visuals – wasn’t challenge enough, imagine the show taking place on a huge “stage” that encompasses a 100-foot-diameter replica of one of the world’s most famous pre-historic archeological sites. That was the massive and complex design project Nic Cave-Lynch took on as LD for the recent Eclipse-Pink Floyd tribute show held at Stonehenge Aotearoa in New Zealand – and one that he fulfilled most spectacularly and ingeniously using lighting products from CHAUVET Professional and CHAUVET DJ, along with trussing from the company’s TRUSST brand.
Eclipse is a New Zealand-based Pink Floyd tribute concert known for its over-the-top light shows (even by Floyd standards) and for favoring non-traditional performance venues. Stonehenge Aotearoa certainly fits the bill. Located near Carterton, New Zealand, it is a modern-day adaptation of the Stonehenge ruins on the Salisbury Plain of England, an awe-inspiring ring of stone pillars thought to have been built as a burial ground between 3000 BC-2000 BC.
According to Cave-Lynch, working with such an overpowering venue, and with a tribute show honoring one of the world’s most iconic bands, were two elements that gave this project a larger-than-life feel. “Most of the time, when I design a show, I’m just working to a concept of my own,” said the LD, a British native who moved to New Zealand in the mid-1980s. “This time, trying to make it look like a Pink Floyd Show, but not like a poorly implemented copy, gave some interesting constraints. In general my designs are about the performers, not the lights. With Pink Floyd (and a Pink Floyd tribute band), the balance moves more towards the lights than the performers. I needed to capture that.
“Separately, the site was important. Despite being a modern re-interpretation of Stonehenge, there’s something about the site that sends shivers down the spine, and I wanted to incorporate and build on the numinous quality. . . I’ve never tried to include something the size of the Stonehenge as a ‘character’ in a show before!”
For his set and stage design, Cave-Lynch drew inspiration from the venue itself. He created a pillar-like arrangement of trussing upstage — referred to as “truss-henge” — using a variety of TRUSST sticks from 0.25m to 3m in size. “This consisted of six uprights connected with a lintel and intended to look like a henge made of truss and seen from the side,” explained Cave-Lynch. Flying from the roof mid-stage was a circle of truss constructed from TRUSST 3m Arc Truss. The actual Stonehenge, off to the side of the main stage, was “made into a performer in the show by having lights inside it pulse in time to key bits of vocals in some songs, and to the heartbeat at the beginning of Dark Side of the Moon.”
To breathe life into this majestic and innovative design, Cave-Lynch used nearly 20 different products from CHAUVET Professional and CHAUVET DJ – more than 150 pieces in all. One of his workhorses was the CHAUVET Professional Q-Wash 560Z-LED, a high-output RGBWA moving head with zoom, which provided the main illumination for the band. Most of the 24 units used were hung from roof truss to provide front light and backlight for each performer, while others were positioned on low upright trusses down-and mid-stage as “side light for a couple of key moments,” said Cave-Lynch, ranking the Q-Wash 560Z-LED as one of his favorite lights in the rig. “It gave a nice beam or wash, and was bright enough to show up even during the daylight part of the show. It is also a compact fixture, so I could put them low down without them being obtrusive.”
Another favorite was the CHAUVET Professional Q-Spot 560-LED, also positioned on roof truss, with most being used for effects and highlighting and one as a followspot. The Q-Spot 560-LED is a feature-rich moving head powered by three 60-watt LED diodes, containing dual gobo wheels, a color wheel and 3-facet prism, which was “really punchy with a nice usable iris,” said Cave-Lynch.
The LD also had special praise for the CHAUVET DJ Intimidator Beam LED 350, a fast powerful light that projects an ultra-concentrated 4° beam and comes loaded with colors, gobos, prism and animation effect. Case-Lynch hung six Intimidator Beam LED 350s on the lintels of the truss-henge for special effects, commenting, “It’s fun to use, and the really tight beam can do some great things.” Also illuminating the truss-henge were: 12 x CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Pro Tri, hung in pairs behind the upstage performers to highlight their solos; and 6 x CHAUVET DJ SlimPAR Tri 7 IRC, used as truss warmers in the truss-henge during intervals.
Animating the Stonehenge itself were 2 x CHAUVET Professional COLORado Range IP that “made it breathe and talk,” and 8 x CHAUVET DJ Eclipse RGB, which pulsed in time to the heartbeat and key vocals. Other fixtures on the overhead truss included: 12 x CHAUVET Professional COLORado 2 Zoom Tour, mounted upstage and “used tightly zoomed to provide a background of beams for the performers;” 6 x CHAUVET Professional COLORado Zoom WW Tour for highlighting downstage performers (“the zoom was useful when someone moved from their position and still needed to be highlighted.”); and 10 x CHAUVET Professional Q-Spot 260-LED on the circle truss. Additionally, there were 4 x CHAUVET Professional Q-Spot 460-LED positioned on the floor as effect lights and low backlights for the downstage performers. Fog effects were provided by CHAUVET DJ Hurricane Haze 2D, Hurricane 1800 Flex and Hurricane 1300 fog machines, as well as the CHAUVET DJ Geyser RGB, a unique effect fogger that simultaneously blasts and illuminates fog with 21 high-power Tri-Color RGB LEDs.
Not surprisingly, this spectacular visual extravaganza drew rave reviews from Floyd fans. “The most complicated, intense, bizarre and wonderful lighting show I have ever seen,” is how one concert reviewer described it. “At one point I remember the Stonehenge monument completely filling with smoke and then the lights began to pulse like a heartbeat to the kick drum.” As the lighting designer for this momentous tribute show, Nic Cave-Lynch certainly deserves a tribute himself for making two larger-than-life icons come alive.
LD Nic Cave-Lynch can be contacted at [email protected]