In a more than 50-year career, German rock icon Udo Lindenberg has created a wealth of songs that remain relevant nowadays thanks to their authentic messages. With his current album, Udopium, the so-called ‘panic rocker’ has created a retrospective that includes the most successful songs from all five decades of his musical work, as well as four new tracks.
The associated Udopium Live tour is remarkable for another reason: it is a new production, rather than a resumption of a tour that has been postponed many times. Lindenberg’s long-time lighting designer, Günter Jäckle, explained: “In 2020, Udo was the only artist who had tickets already sold for his planned tour refunded, instead of continuing to postpone them from year to year. Finally, in October 2021, the ‘panic crew’ decided to develop a new show that would incorporate elements of that 2019 show.”
Around 150 GLP fixtures are currently travelling with the crew, deployed to great effect in the large-scale 180-degree stage design. Jäckle has been creating the lighting design for Lindenberg’s shows since 1987 and is still at the FOH podium today when the rock legend once again attracts tens of thousands of fans to arenas and stadiums.
“Udo has been with me for a very long time. When I was 15, I went to one of his concerts for the first time, and even then his songs touched me and carried me away,” continued the designer. “For several years now, Udo has been fulfilling his dreams on stage, whether it’s about playing in front of the Brandenburg Gate or flying in a zeppelin in the venue – together we make it possible. The ‘panic family’ isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s a reality and way of life. Everyone pulls together to make even the craziest idea a reality, and that’s still a lot of fun.”
Although the characteristic ‘Udo stage’ remained unchanged, the demands of the production moved with the times. The maximum possible reduction in CO2 is mandatory for a politically and socially committed artist, and Günter Jäckle specified a range of energy-efficient LED moving heads from GLP to meet this requirement. A total of 40 GLP GT-1, 32 impression X4, 30 impression X4 L, 36 FUSION Exo Beam 10 and six FUSION MBL 20 put Udo and his panic orchestra in sharp focus, with the MBL 20 having a very special task.
“I really appreciate working with the GLP team and their products,” explained Günter. “GLP supports designers in a way that really helps us. The Udopium Live tour takes us to 20 indoor halls and three open-air arenas, so I needed a fixture that I could use both indoors and outdoors. The FUSION Exo Beam 10 was ideal in that respect, both in terms of its IP65 rating and its energy savings.”
With 40 hybrid GT-1s, the designer not only created the lighting for fans along the catwalk and central stage, but also staged a sunbeam with eight GLP GT-1 per side: “The GT-1 does a great job as a beam light and delivers a decent amount of colour output. Thanks to the focus, you can also use them as spots, so they allow me a lot of variety with regards to the different looks. They are also very subtle and blend in well with the stage design.”
A further 24 GT-1 are used as ‘street lights’, where they frame the video wall. “I always have a nice fan of light in the background for the camera side shots,” added Jäckle.
He uses impression X4 and X4 L to illuminate the audience, as well as for scenic lighting on some songs – for example, when a huge bell or a boxing ring is pushed onto the stage.
“With the X4 and X4 L I can give these scenic elements a nice radiance,” he continued. “We also save a lot of electricity with them. Thanks to the GLP devices we can present a big show on a big stage with a relatively small lighting system. I like working with solutions where the actual fixtures deployed look far more than they really are. It means that every fixture has to really work hard. As always with GLP, they have absolutely proven themselves.”
In addition to the dark sunglasses, a black hat is one of Lindenberg’s trademarks; the artist never goes on stage without a hat. A special task is therefore assigned to six FUSION MBL 20 LED floodlights, as Jäckle explained: “I was looking for a camera-compatible guide light. Finally, I called GLP’s Oliver Schwendke – and two days later I was sent the MBL 20.”
The FUSION MBL 20 is an LED floodlight with tunable white and flexible colour temperature adjustment in the range from 2,700 to 6,500 kelvin. The device has IP65 protection so is dustproof and suitable for outdoor use. The integrated diffuser panel improves the lighting properties of the LED through a reduced glare effect and a homogeneous visual impression.
Two of these LED floodlights are used on the floor on the front stage, at the transition to the catwalk and on the main stage, where they can be flexibly switched on if necessary. “With the MBL 20 we make light under Udo’s hat and thus eliminate the natural shadow cast by the hat brim on the artist’s face,” stated Jäckle. “In my opinion, we’ve never had such a good camera image on the LED wall. Good colour correction can be achieved with the help of the variable white light. The MBL 20 is another example of the great GLP support. They are just as suitable for outdoor use as the Exo Beams, they look good, they are not too big and they do their specific job perfectly.”
The LD appreciates the fact that GLP makes fixtures like this available to him in advance so that he can test them, fine-tune them and integrate them into the show file. “The physical proximity [the show lab is located near Heidelberg, and GLP is based in Karlsbad] certainly makes it easier,” he continued. “I have enjoyed working with GLP for years. The team, especially Oliver Schwendke, who once again worked extremely hard for me as a designer and for the production on the current Lindenberg tour, is very committed and provides me with equipment that I can trust 100%.”
The Udopium tour was sold out within a day. Up until 10 July, the panic crew will be performing two shows in arenas in ten different cities. Intensive rehearsals were carried out in advance because the pandemic is still affecting tour operations.
“We have managed to set up a new production of this magnitude despite the pandemic,” stated Jäckle. “And that is not as a matter of course, as every city has its own set of rules to follow. We have doctors on the team and carry our own PCR testing facilities with us. All the crew test themselves daily, as does the band. Frequently, crew members need to go into quarantine – and in that instance production has had to recruit backup musicians, who of course had to rehearse with us. This is why the rehearsals have taken so long. It is an unbelievable effort on the part of everyone involved that this tour has started and is now actually running.”
PRG Germany supplied the lighting for the Udopium Live tour, with Tom Kaczmarek as assuming the role of Project Leader. In addition to LD and Operator, Günter Jäckle, Jonas Hart took care of the white light, with Oliver Horn supporting the production as Head of Lighting.