Ed Warren designs Johnny Marr Tour with ChamSys MagicQ MQ250M Stadium

Photo: Joe Horridge

Johnny Marr kicked off his Greatest Hits tour at Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on April 2 2024 with Ed Warren at the helm of the lighting design. 

“Johnny and I have a really good relationship,” said Warren. “We spent a fair bit of time hanging out and chatting before coming up with any kind of plan for this tour.  Once we had this decided, I programmed the entire show at home on my MQ70 using Capture over the course of a couple of weeks.”

“Since Johnny’s studio is so close, I would pop round to see him every few weeks and talk about life, love, football and of course music. He would explain to me the moments he felt things should happen, and would even give me background behind meanings of songs. This really helped me interpret them into light. Of course, this was pretty mind blowing for me, being a Smith’s fanboy for the best part of 30 years,” he elaborated.

Programmed by Warren on his MagicQ MQ70 with a MacBook Pro, and run on tour by Subul Lodi on a MagicQ MQ250M Stadium Console, the lightshow moved to the music with plenty of ballyhoo specials and fast movements along with some thoughtful warm white moments.

“Subul operated the console, and she pretty much learned ChamSys for this tour,” said Warren. “She had experience with it before, but not as far as taking an entire tour out. She came round to my studio and I walked her through everything including group cues. She picked it up like a duck to water. I was really impressed with her aptitude and spirit, as well as with how easy the MagicQ 250M is to learn.”

“In addition to Subul, there were others who contributed to the success of the tour, including Will Waghorn the TM, and Adlib, which supplied lights and audio, along with account manager Oli Edwards, Project Manager Mike Blundell, tech Eliot Michaels, and tech Sam Boardman,” he added.

Making life easier for Lodi as the board operator were the MagicQ’s Group Cues and FX Palettes. “These features were critically important, as it was a different house rig every day,” said Warren. “I programmed the show based off the London flown rig, which I specced, but Subul was met with a different prospect every day, be it lack of front light, adapting wash lights into strobes, and so on. She and the console handled it admirably.”

Although the specific fixtures available at any one show varied, one thing that was constant, as it is in most Ed Warren designs, was a mirror ball. “Johnny had a very specific idea about a select few moments in the set where certain things should happen,” said Warren.  “One of those moments is the drop before the final chorus of ‘Getting Away With It,’ which should be the introduction of the mirror ball. Who am I to argue with that? It’s a very ethereal moment prior to an extremely euphoric build, and despite it being at the very end of the main set, is worth the wait.”

“The rapport we had was wonderful,” said Warren. “Every now and then I’d show him what I’d programmed, and we’d adjust and tweak, but on the whole he was really pleased with everything. It’s invaluable being able to constantly update the artist on the show as you’re working on it, I wish it would happen more often. Feels like we created the show together, which is the way it should be.”