In the early summer of 2023 Herbert Grönemeyer was persuaded to return to Germany’s arenas, having released his latest (and seventeenth) album, Das ist los. For his latest tour, creatives Gunther Hecker and Rob Sinclair designed a production, including a footbridge and B stage. Hecker, who has been part of Grönemeyer’s design team for years, staged this with an impressive lighting rig that included over 220 fixtures from GLP, including impression X5 and X5 IP Bars. The general technical service provider for the tour was satis&fy AG, while airformance design created the decorative elements that characterised the stage design in lightweight construction.
Theatrical light and set design is important to the artist, whose roots lie in acting. Therefore, conventional show lighting, with a lot of LED surfaces, was out of the question as was a battle of large moving lights. After Hecker and Sinclair had invested a lot of time in finding the right design vocabulary for the stage, the lighting designer was able to devote his time to the choice of colours. “The language of form is always very important to me. It’s about finding a physical expression for the music – the new record – creating something of your own without copying or repeating it,” emphasises Hecker.
Furthermore, there was a desire to use the album artwork – which in this case was kept in a simple brown – throughout the stage design. “With a lot of effort we were able to get a brown backdrop,” Hecker said with a smile. “The backline was coloured brown, as was the floor – right down to the mic stand. In fact everything was brown. This resulted in interesting colour shifts under lighting that didn’t match the usual stage visuals, which was really exciting. On the other hand, in this case it was particularly important that the fixtures offered a high-quality and accurate colour mixture.”
For this reason he used 122 GLP impression X5 washlights, 14 impression X5 IP Bars, 80 impression X4 Bar 20 and six X4 Bar 10. A movable [12m x 6m] light pod hovered above the main stage, in which three impression X5s were installed on each of nine truss ladders. Additional X5s were located on stage-high uprights in the four corners of the main stage, as well as in the stage roof and on the catwalk, plus the floor of the B stage. The pod construction was framed by impression X4 Bar 20, which also traced the contours of the stage with light.
The large light pod was not only the central eye-catcher on the stage, but also a prerequisite for its variable looks. “The pod was about much more than just lighting the stage,” explained the lighting designer. “By moving and tilting the light construction, we constantly managed to achieve a new look and were able to vary the drama.”
Hecker had his first encounter with GLP’s new impression X5 washlight during a TV production – and was immediately highly impressed by its colour mixing attributes: “With the X5 I could mix colours in very fine steps and nuances for the first time; the special lime chip and various CTO tones make this possible. My personal X5 highlight, however, was a colour chaser between white and red that I hadn’t seen before. The colour mixing of the X5 works incredibly well – I couldn’t have done that with any other lamp in this form.”
Since Hecker is not a fan of pixel light, the current Grönemeyer tour also marked his first use of the impression X4 Bar. He first placed these fixtures in a line at the back of the stage over a distance of approximately 30m in order to illuminate the large backdrop, which was also partly used for projections.
“The GLP Bars are excellent for creating area lighting – exactly what I needed for this production to illuminate the 30-metre-wide and 12-metre-high backdrop,” he confirmed.
At one point, however, he reached his limits with the X4 Bar: “I really wanted to create a two-dimensional light image in which the light would shoot from bottom to top. But with the X4 Bar you cannot, for example in [Cologne’s] Lanxess Arena, visibly shine 20 metres upwards. I had already heard about the new impression X5 IP Bar and called GLP’s Oliver Schwendke at short notice to inquire about it. Olli got straight down to business and had 14 impression X5 IP Bars to me within four days!”
In this way, the missing images could be realised. With almost twice the output compared with the X4 Bar, the even more generous zoom (4.5° to 60°) and the motorised tilt, the designer generated three individual looks just for the backdrop using the impression X5 IP Bar. Since there were four tour stops and also stadium concerts, the weatherproof version (IP65) was also an advantage.
Hecker concluded: “GLP is an owner-managed company, and you notice that as a designer. The team, especially Olli Schwendke, is very committed, totally flexible and responsive. That impresses me a lot.”