Colour Sound Desire for Hurts

Photo: Louise Stickland

Colour Sound Experiment supplied lighting and crew to the UK and European leg of synth pop duo Hurts’ Desire tour, which included the presentation of some shows in more off-gig circuit reaches of Europe. These included Moldova, Siberia, Belarus and Ukraine, and was a challenge to Production Manager Craig Sherwood and his team.

Production Designer Rob Sinclair created the scenic and lighting design and worked with Matt Arthur as Lighting Director / Programmer and Operator on the road. It’s the third Hurts’ album cycle for Sinclair and Arthur, who have worked together in a similar format for the last 10 years.

The band’s production and the relationship with Colour Sound as a lighting and rigging supplier also goes back a long way. Colour Sound’s Haydn ‘H’ Cruickshank commented: “We always love working with Rob. You never know quite what to expect, but when the design is revealed, it’s always inventive, different and looks amazing. It was also great to be back on the road again with Hurts. We have enjoyed seeing their career success grow and grow due to a lot of hard work and some excellent music, and it was great to be working with Craig [Sherwood] again.”

Matt Arthur was joined on the road by a Colour Sound crew of Sam Kenyon (Chief), Jonnie Westell and Liam Rudd. Kenyon and Westell did the whole tour including the first 2 weeks and were joined by Rudd in Helsinki as they ramped up to the full rig. Sinclair created a set and lighting scheme based around 4 ‘concrete’ pillars measuring between 12ft and 16ft long and 20inches in diameter, all offset at obtuse and jaunty angles and rotation. These lent themselves perfectly to being lit, and particularly well from fixtures on the floor and mid truss. The set and lighting rig was designed to be ultimately adaptable as they played anything from 12,000 seater arenas to 600 capacity clubs.

The set was augmented with a practical and compact lighting rig plus a couple of visual surprises which were revealed as the set unfolded. Central to the design was dimension, side light and the colour red. Sinclair didn’t want any blinders or strobes, so those effects had to be created with other luminaries; another challenge for Arthur as he worked out the best lighting looks and scenes during production rehearsals at Cato Music in Wimbledon.

Having a structural set to light made the performance area into a real 3D space and a great starting point for Arthur to light. The 4 pillars were constructed by Get Set Scenery from Wales out of polystyrene and included large bases that slotted beneath the band risers upstage. The riser skirts were dressed in the same red and grey tones as the stalagmites.

One of the lighting specials was a chandelier made up from 36 Martin by Harman Sceptron LED battens attached to 3 concentric aluminium rings of 5ft, 4ft and 3ft diameters respectively. The 3 rings were fixed together and concertinaed into 1 other for storage and transport in a large flight case. It was flown on a truss with 2 Colour Sound Kinesys motors so it glided in and out to different positions, controlled by Kenyon using Kinesys Vector software. When they had the headroom, it was flown into the roof and hidden completely for the start of the show, dropping in during the opening sequence.

The 2nd special effect was an upstage truss initially hidden behind the back red drapes which were attached to a 12m Tab Track and opened / closed manually to reveal 20 1K fresnels rigged off 5 6m vertical pipes. The first reveal was half way through the show, letting a blast of light through from behind. The standard overhead rig comprised 3 trusses – front, mid and rear – all at 40ft / 12m. There were 6 Robe BMFL Spots on the front truss used primarily for front projection and downstage washes plus key light / pickups for the 2 artists, synthesist Adam Anderson and singer Theo Hutchcraft. The 5-piece band were positioned upstage of them on a series of risers.

The mid truss was rigged with 4 Robe BMFL Spots and 4 Chauvet Professional Rogue R2 washes. The BMFLs were key backlight on Hurts and also ideal for lighting the pillars, as were the washes which also did a lot of work on these scenic elements. The mid truss was also used to suspend the Sceptron chandelier in the centre when there wasn’t room for its own dedicated truss. The U-shaped rear truss was a 40ft / 12m straight run with a 3m extension each side at a 45º angle. There were 7 BMFL Spots rigged on outriggers off the top rail and 21 R2 washes on the bottom chord all the way around the U, 4 on each ‘side’ portion of truss and 13 spread out across the 40ft span. All the trusses were bordered in the same red velvet fabric as the back curtain to complete the ‘red’ theme.

On the floor were another 12 Robe BMFLs. There were 2 each side downstage to cover the front line and 1 per side upstage to cross light onto the band and the pillars, with 6 evenly spaced between the pillars upstage for floor-based backlight through the band. These could also be used for additional pillar illumination and, occasionally, for up-lighting the drape, although this was mainly taken care of by the R2s around the top of the U-shape truss.

Sinclair and Arthur both comment that ‘H’ at Colour Sound was “instrumental and extremely helpful” in ensuring they received the rig they wanted. Arthur added: “The gear came out of the warehouse meticulously prepped and Sam and the crew have been fantastic!”