Enjoying the Colour Sounds of Madness

Photos: Louise Stickland

Busy London UK based lighting and visuals rental company Colour Sound Experiment supplied video – including LED screens, cameras, PPU and crew – to iconic British ska band Madness’s most recent tour.

The Sound of Madness arena tour was production managed and designed by “Luton” Pete Hosier, who was also the LD, with the video elements co-ordinated by Toby Vogel, who has worked with Madness since 2010. Video has been a massive part of their live show, especially for the last three of these biennial arena tours, and the screens were in use for most of the band’s set.

Utilizing over 175 sq metres of Colour Sound’s BT-6 and BT-7 mm LED product, the main screens comprised a 10m wide by 5m high upstage centre surface, flanked either side by two 5 x 5m  ‘return’ screens positioned diagonally upstage/downstage.

Further offstage were two 8m wide by 5m high IMAGs, and all of these were flown from their own trusses and made from the 7 mm. Additionally, seven 2m wide by 3m high 6 mm screen sections were rigged on vertical trussing towers positioned upstate of the band curving around the back line.

These were used primarily as digital set pieces, displaying well known Madness music-related images like lampposts, phone boxes, etc, as well as showing ambient content. As well as coordinating all the video hardware, Toby created, generated and formatted the content.

There was also other original content and some reimagined artwork from previous tours and landmark promos. Colour Sound supplied a three camera/Blackmagic 2ME PPU package, plus video director Phil Woodhead, who brought his own aesthetic to the visual mix as part of the video team. Phil also worked on the 2016 arena tour. Two cameras were positioned in the pit with wide angle lenses, with one at FOH fitted with a long lens. Toby’s control system was based around Mac Pro Resolume 6 media servers which he ran from FOH, with Phil’s camera mix fed in via Blackmagic external capture cards.

Toby gathered and edited all the content, including for Madness classic The Prince, a tribute to the late Jamaican ska legend Prince Buster (the band’s name came from one of his songs), where he created using images of vintage Prince Buster 7-inch (vinyl) singles sleeve artwork.  “The shows look and sound great, are huge fun, and the band always have a laugh on stage” he stated. He reported that the screen was very reliable and that it is always a good experience to be working with Colour Sound.

Toby has known Colour Sound’s H (Haydn Cruickshank) for many years – the two have also collaborated on Underworld with H as LD. He’s known Colour Sound’s Jo Beirne since the days of XL Video. Toby has also worked with Pete Hosier as LD on other tours including The Libertines and The Specials, and it’s proved an excellent combination of skills and personalities.

Pete Hosier commented: “We love H and Jo from Colour Sound! They are fantastic to work with, lovely people, great kit, top crew and everyone is looked after well. As a company, Colour Sound share the same beliefs and philosophies that we do. They have built and built and gone from strength to strength without selling out their core principals and by investing in excellent equipment and talented people with great attitudes and work ethics”.

His production colleagues on the road included tour manager Steve Martin, band assistant Jim O’Gara and production co-ordinators Anneka Hill and Sam Carter.