For Foo Fighters Concrete and Gold world tour Lighting Designer and Director, Dan Hadley to keep the visuals incredible and exciting enough to match the energy onstage while they played a variety of venues including; stadiums, arenas, amphitheatres, surprise club gigs and festival headlines.
To help him achieve this, Hadley’s lighting rig included 36 Ayrton MagicPanel FX square faced LED fixtures rigged on 12 floating ladders that moved constantly to reconfigure and reshape the architecture of the stage. The rungs of the ladders swung freely so that the MagicPanel-FX fixtures maintained their vertical orientation at all times, from where Hadley used them as dramatic sources of illumination to form strong aerial effects, linear patterns, run graphics and shapes across the face of each fixture.
The tour was split into two legs which required two different designs, both of which incorporated the MagicPanel-FX. “For the first leg the MagicPanel-FX were mounted low in three static trusses in a sort of horseshoe configuration.” said Hadley: “In the second design we had them grouped on flying lighting ladders above the stage where they change position throughout the show. For festivals where the schedule was very tight and we had to be able to set up and get out in a short time. I wanted to keep this one low on budget and number of trucks.
“Happily, the MagicPanels definitely had a presence and enough flexibility and performed multiple tasks so we could keep the amount of kit to a minimum to speed up installation and minimise truck space. After that tour finished we started the full production tour for the new album. For this, the square shape of the MagicPanel-FX fitted perfectly into the geometry of the album art and our video configuration, so keeping them was an easy choice to make, especially as they’d also performed so well on the first leg.”
Hadley has used Ayrton fixtures to light the Foo Fighters before, notably, Ayrton MagicDot-R which he used to encircle the ‘Iron Throne’ that famously carried Grohl on stage after he broke his leg, and Ayrton MagicBlade-R for the 2015 Sonic Highways tour, so was familiar with the MagicPanel range.
Hadley admitted to having a few favourite features on the MagicPanel-FX beside its unique zoom: “There were a few moments when I was able to mimic what the video content was doing, particularly in one song when there is an ‘infinity mirror’ type array of lights with a ‘virtual’ PAR. I rigged the upstage LED wall so the MagicPanels became 3D versions of what was happening on the 2D screen. It gave me the ability to bring the 2D content into the 3D realm quite easily, which doesn’t happen often with more conventional fixtures.”
The MagicPanel-FX fixtures were supplied by PRG for the whole global tour as part of the full lighting package and proved both reliable and easy on the maintenance. “They’ve been possibly the least problematic moving fixture on the tour, which may be due to or in spite of the fact that they live on their ladders,” confirmed Hadley.