HSL Riot with Prodigy

Photo: Louise Stickland

Tasked with creating a fresh and new regime of visual anarchy for Prodigy’s most recent tour was Lighting and Set Designer Tim Fawkes, who chose to work with leading UK rental specialist HSL Group Holdings as suppliers of lighting and crew, chiefed by Matt Brown.

Fawkes took a brief from the band and long term manager John Fairs. The band are passionate about lighting and it is an essential element helping them feel the intense rapport between stage and fans. This led to the development of 4 custom semi scenic old style searchlight assemblies upstage, with big hexagonal outer shells and packed with more modern lightning technology. These, together with 3 scenic CCTV camera towers, were the main set pieces. Tim explained: ”The underlying idea was to create a scene of dystopia on stage.”

The set was built by Stage One. Fawkes devised the shape and size of the searchlight housings which he modelled and tweaked in WYSIWYG before finalising. They were a compromise between being tourable, relatively light at under 300kg each fully loaded.

The 2 onstage ones sat on risers upstage with the 2 offstage ones on the deck. Prodigy have always played in a relatively smaller area downstage, so the concept fitted the space nicely. Inside each searchlight pod were 7 Claypaky Sharpies, a Martin by Harman Atomic LED, 2 Philips Nitro 510C strobes and 8 individual PAR 36 ACLs. The shells were outlined with LED tape so they glowed in the upstage shadows. A typical Prodigy light show involves layers of visual effects and for this one Fawkes alternated between beams, strobes and Moles / blinders, flipping between tungsten and LED.

The gaps in between the surveillance camera masts and the searchlights were filled with 4 trussing towers, each loaded with Phillips Vari-Lite VL4000 wash beams, Atomic LEDs and Robe PATT2013s. Another 8 Atomic strobes were dotted around in an arc shape on the deck including 4 to highlight the distressed oxidised metal finish of the riser fronts.

Robe LEDWash 600s rigged on 2 side truss towers a side and on top of the side fills were used for the main stage washes with more LEDWashes upstage on the floor gazing up the fly artwork backdrop. This version was printed on trevira material with a gauze in front for a bit of additional resonance. On the downstage edge of the stage were more strobes and some PixelLine LED battens providing some basic foot and side lights.

Prodigy founder Liam Howlett also had a very special request – for some Trilite Mark 12 rotating beacons as a tribute to classic stage effects, for which Fawkes dug deep into the HSL vaults. 4 trusses were flown above stage – 2 upstage and 2 downstage, all staggered in height – the idea being to replicate the spacing of the searchlights Sharpy effects with the Sharpies in the overhead rig.

Fixtures in the overhead lying rig were 30 Robe Sharpies, 25 Robe LEDWash 1200s – spec’d for their extra intensity, 16 Robe Atomic LEDs and 14 robe 2-lite Moles. Fawkes explained: “It was designed so we could up / down scale as needed to deal with the varying sized venues.”

Fawkes used a High End Systems Full Boar 4 console for control. He works regularly on a number of different control platforms including this and an MA Lighting grandMA. Being a programmer as well, Fawkes likes to keep up with the most popular options. Fawkes commented: “It’s super-quick and very simple to program. For festivals it’s extremely light to carry out and position at FOH and slot in to a small footprint!”

During the prep, Fawkes’ background in project management and production came in extremely handy, adding: “It was great going back to HSL in a client relationship and spend time in the office amongst a familiar, friendly and very helpful team”

He is also the first to credit his hardworking crew who, in addition to Brown, were Steve Major and Joe Dowling. HSL’s project manager Jordan Hanson commented: “We love working with Tim – he’s really thorough and organised which helps everything run smoothly, and we were all really impressed with the interesting set and the vibrancy and animation of the lighting”.