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HSL Supplies OMD Tour

Blackburn-based lighting rental company HSL is continuing a busy autumn/winter season supplying lights, Kinesys automation, projection and LED to the Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) UK and European tour.
It featured the band's original line-up, a new album History Of Modern and an incredibly energetic set comprising a lively mix of classic hits and new material.
It was Lighting/Visuals Designer Andy Liddle's first full production tour with the band since he came onboard in 2009. He created an interesting mix of moving elements, LED and projection surfaces and lighting, to provide a perfect contemporary scenic showcase for OMD… three decades of synth pop later.
One of his imaginative starting points was the angular lines of the new album artwork, which he wanted to mimic in the set architecture.
All suppliers were invited to tender for the tour at the outset, from which HSL won the lighting and visuals package explained Liddle, who was also aware of some of the other work that HSL has been doing recently. He said: "We felt HSL's experience with moving elements, LED surfaces and projection in addition to lighting made them the best choice," adding that the Blackburn-based company was incredibly supportive to him as the design evolved.
The tour was being project-managed for HSL by the indefatigable Mike Oates. On tour with Liddle were technicians/riggers Eugene Benavidez, Matt Brown and John Trincas. There was a great vibe and everyone had a good time!
Liddle's design emanated from an upstage stretch projection screen, and included eight areas of Pixled F40 LED screen, six of which were rigged to sections of 12-inch truss that were moved on the 12-axis Kinesys system. This used half tonne Lifket motors and was operated by Benavidez.
Attached to the trussing sections behind the screen panels, so they shot through to make the screen transparent - were a selection of 4-way linear Moles and Martin Atomic strobes. Sections 7 and 8 of the F40 were on the floor, forming a long fascia to the front of the main band riser which was downstage of the projection screen.
At the top of the show, the intro video (produced by Pip Rhodes) was projected onto a full length gauze drape attached to the front truss by a Robe DigitalSpot mounted on the back truss. At the end of this, the gauze was kabuki dropped in to the floor.
Two more DigitalSpot 7000DTs rigged stage left and right on the side fills were used to feed images to the main projection screen.
The content, ranging from the political to the abstract ran across all surfaces - projection and LED, with the majority of it commissioned by the band and produced by Hambi Haralambous. The LED surfaces were all fed by one of the HSL's Hippotizer media servers run by Matt Brown via a Hog 3 console.
A second (double action) electric kabuki drop jettisoned the rear screen after the passionate anti-nuclear anthem Enola Gay. The top and bottom solenoids were released first, followed by the sides a nanosecond later, popping the stretched cloth, atomic explosion style, spectacularly to the floor.
The moving LED elements brought a massive flexibility to the performance space, and two numbers in particular Locomotion and the finale, Electricity, gave Benavidez the chance to demonstrate his Kinesys Vector Control operating skills and the amazing smoothness and dynamics of the system. Liddle said: "My instructions to him were to 'go wild' in Electricity and that's exactly what he did, running a big chase at full speed… which was gobsmackingly awesome to behold!
For lighting, Liddle chose his fixtures judiciously, taking the 'less is more' to new levels of elegance in an essentially simple but incredibly complex show!
Twenty-four GLP Impression LED wash lights were arranged in six batches of four across the three main trusses, for a touch of retro ACL 'architecture'. Sixteen Robe ColorSpot 700E ATs also distributed between the trusses were used for key lighting the band, with six of them positioned upstage of the band riser to create intense beam looks onto the forestage and into the audience.
Another element of token 1980s technology were two bars of six PARs per side, stove vertically offstage each side for strong cross lighting. Then there were the strobes and blinders behind the Pixeled panels, a single follow spot, and a 400W HTI green metal halide unit centre stage used for a sinuous gassy green effect in Green… and that was it!
Liddle used an Avolites Tiger Touch console to run the lighting and the DigitalSpots… chosen for its MIDI timecode capabilities and neat and tidy footprint. Some of the show video was timecode triggered from onstage by tech guru Roger Lyons' ProTools rack and other clips were cued manually via the Hog 3.
The tour was preceded by four days production rehearsals at Lite Structures in Wakefield. Liddle commented: "I was very impressed with the way HSL had prepped the kit beforehand. It all went together beautifully at Lite Strucutres, which was a real help as we were extremely stretched for programming time. The crew were great and the overall dedication to providing an outstanding ongoing service is an example to all!"
HSL sourced the video kit from XL Video UK, which whom they have a strong working relationship. The tour's sound was supplied by Capital Sound Hire from London.
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