FORTES for Sam Fender’s Homecoming Shows

Photo: Steve Sroka

Sam Fender played two homecoming shows at St. James’ Park in Newcastle with lighting designed by Sam Tozer and equipment supplied by Adlib including 11 Robe FORTES running on five RoboSpot systems.

Tozer has been working with Fender since he re-started after the pandemic in 2021. Working alongside him was Lighting Director Luke Avery, who was heavily involved in the design process, together with Set Designer Flora Harvey. Video content was created by UDC.

Tozer’s overall vision for these shows was to make the lighting look epic, large scale and ‘industrial strength’ to cover the dynamic range of Fender’s music.

The FORTES were all rigged on the front truss and utilised for spot lighting, key lighting and specials. “I needed a very reliable and stable remote follow spotting system for the task of key’ing the band,” explained Tozer.

He wanted a stage left and a stage right spot for every band member to give excellent, even coverage across their bodies and faces, and this setup was the solution. FORTE is currently Robe’s highest-powered LED profile luminaire; it has a high CRI and is ideal for this exact application.

The RoboSpot BaseStations were located behind the stage, and operated by local crew, and the FORTES were used throughout the set. Each RoboSpot operator was allocated a band member and stayed with them. Harry Williams was spot calling, and all the fast blackouts and other special effects utilised on the FORTES were programmed and executed from the main grandMA3 lighting console.

“This show is all about the music and Fender’s distinctive sound,” explained Tozer, “and it is critical to be able to see the band throughout. The FORTES enabled me to do this, and as they have so many features, I was also able to add texturing and other effects on top of the essential follow spotting at various times.”

He appreciated the intensity of the FORTES plus the approximately 300 other fixtures on the rig. Tozer uses RoboSpot systems on almost all of his shows. He thinks Robe is a “workhorse lighting manufacturer” and has the confidence to know he will have “reliability, quality and consistency” when using its products.

He generally observes that there are a lot less conventional follow spots being specified now: “It’s seriously easier, more efficient and enhances creative options to hang some additional fixtures on your front truss or fly an advanced truss with some remote-operated fixtures!” Tozer concluded.

Adlib have been Sam Fender’s lighting supplier since 2019, since then, his success and career trajectory have soared, and the Liverpool-based event technology specialists have continued to supply the North Shields’ artist with production support.: “Through the years, we have had a fantastic working relationship with Sam Tozer, production manager Rob Simpson and the rest of the Sam’s crew,” noted Adlib’s project manager and account handler, Jordan Willis.

Look out for the full story in a forthcoming print edition of TPi Magazine.