NEW YORK – Since their inception in 1977, the Psychedelic Furs have never shied away from making sharp musical turns. Much to the delight of their fans, the legendary UK rockers have weaved like a speedboat from austere art rock to new wave, to rhythmic tunes like their mega-hit “Pretty in Pink,” to hard growling sounds, leaving an impressive body of work in their wake that has influenced a generation of musicians. Apparently, the group applies their daring creative spirit to lighting as well, as evidenced by their sudden decision to enhance their stage presence with an LED rig that features Rogue R1 Spots and COLORdash Batten-Quad 6 linear fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.
“The band decided pretty last minute to spice up the show with lighting, so we had a bit of a rush to get things together and get the show cued out,” said LD Victor Zeiser of Squeek Lights (New York). “We also had to deal with a last minute curve ball when the band decided on Sunday to pick up its lighting rig from us on Tuesday instead of Friday! This meant we didn’t have as much time to program with the full rig as we would have liked. Thankfully the Rogue fixtures are small enough that I was able to set up my lighting director Kirby Naylor with one of them in his hotel room for pre-programming.”
They may have been pre-programmed somewhat on the fly, but the Rogue R1 Spots are certainly creating a lasting and powerful impression on the sellout crowds flocking to see the Psychedelic Furs on tour. The intense output and vivid rich colors from the fixture’s 140-watt LED engine provided a visually exciting accompaniment to the band’s hard driving songs.
“We wanted to have lots of fun effects like split colors and beamy gobo looks to complement the band’s music,” said Zeiser. “Our design goal was to be simple but effective without a lot of cueing. The idea was to complement rather distract from the focus on the band’s performance.”
However, the LD acknowledges that there were also times when he made lighting effects a little more center stage. “We have one great moment in the show, where there’s a lyric in the song ‘Sleep Comes Down,’ when we have the lights tilt down to the band on a mode 2 handle on our desk. The singer noticed this the first night and now uses his hands to ‘direct’ the cue during the song,” said Zeiser. “I was actually nervous when we programmed that cue that it would be too cheeky, so it felt really great when they loved it.”
Zeiser is using eight Rogue R1 Spots on the Psychedelic Furs tour to keep his footprint small enough to accommodate some of the tighter stages. “We wanted to keep the package simple to set up,” he said. “We position four of the Rogues up on 6’ booms with COLORdash Batten-Quad 6 fixtures hung vertically just below this area. We use these fixtures as eye candy and as blinders. Between the booms, we have a Rogue R1 case with two fixtures flipped up on it.”
Although the performance of the Rogue R1 Spots stands out, there were also practical considerations that led to the LED fixtures being specified for the Psychedelic Furs tour. “On a tour like this you have to consider off-stage factors as well as on-stage ones when selecting gear,” said Zeiser. “The R1s are lightweight, which makes them much easier to deal with than an arc source fixture with a ballast in it. The low power usage also helps save trailer space, as we don’t need to carry feeder or distro. We only need one 15 amp circuit per side!”
Another behind-the-scenes component that has been essential to the success of the Psychedelic Furs tour, says Zeiser, is the strength of his crew. In addition to thanking his lighting director Naylor, Zeiser singled out two other crew members for helping him meet the quick turnaround on this project. “Kirby Naylor is an LD who impressed me when I met him while on the road earlier this year,” he said. “Kirby handled most of the programming, and has been crushing it on the road. I look forward to using him on future Squeek Lights projects. Also, Steve Kosiba deserves a shout out for drafting up a plot for me in a hurry, and so does my intern Ariel Delman, who took charge of the prep when it got pushed up a few days sooner than expected.
“A group like the Psychedelic Furs is full of spontaneous surprises, which is great artistically,” said Zeiser, “but when you’re lighting them you need reliable gear and a great crew to keep pace. Luckily we had both.”