Martin Dudley has been running Cate Carter’s lighting designs for James Morrison on his ChamSys console since 2012. In the ensuing decade, he’s not only grown ever-more appreciative of Morrison’s silky smooth voice, but also of his colleague’s singular ability to refresh and expand the evocative looks that support the legendary singer’s shows in light.
“Working with Cate is a lesson in the creative power of design,” said Dudley. “Her approach is never formularised; instead she’s always finding different ways to add new elegant dimensions to James’ shows. It’s a genuine pleasure to take her vision off the computer screen and into reality.”
For the recent tour, which saw James Morrison play a number of venues around the UK, Carter’s originality took the form of eschewing big lighting effects in favour of a timelessly classic visual concept. Helping Dudley translate this design into reality was a lighting rig supplied by Martin’s Lights and Colour Sound Experiment that featured 24 CHAUVET Professional Rogue R2 Wash fixtures.
“As James’ songs are rooted in soul, blues and even gospel music, we wanted the lighting to take on this intimate look that set an appropriately engaging mood,” commented Dudley. “A James Morrison show is about James and his songs. As a result, the intent of the lighting was to create an inviting environment on stage.”
Dudley and his team, light technicians, Chris Davey and Amy Barnett, positioned eight Rogue fixtures on front row truss to light Morrison and the band, eight on the back truss to light a supple velvet backdrop, and four on the floor at either side of the stage. Many of the RGBW moving washes were also used to light one of the show’s most distinctive set pieces: wicker lamp shades that were flown in an irregular pattern over the stage.
Lighting the baskets in a variety of warm colours, the Rogues contributed to creating a homey feel during the shows. In so doing they reflected the strong connection that has always existed between Morrison and his legion of fans.
“My team and I realised as we were setting up on the first day of the tour that there were enough wash lights on the back truss and the floor to point one at each lampshade,” continued Dudley. “That spontaneous addition turned out to be one of my favourite looks of the entire show, with the deep magenta and dark blue tones of the Rogues in particular providing a unique focal point for the stage.”
Speaking of the lamp shades, Dudley noted that they were rigged on the front and back cords of the upstage and mid stage truss at various heights. This arrangement gave the team a relatively simple way to endow the stage with depth and texture.
Asked where the shades came from, he said. “Cate came across them in Belgium where she lives.” In so doing, he provided yet more proof that creative lighting designers will find inspiration anywhere in their effort to keep shows glowing with the attractive aura of originality.