Bridging the space between progressive music and rock, Jethro Tull has woven a rich tapestry of sound into arresting images that are not only heard, but also seen in all their richly textured nuance by the mind’s eye. Indeed critics have often described the power of the iconic band’s music in terms of an abstract painting or edgy, experimental film.
So, it was not surprising when Ian Anderson, leader of the quintet from Blackpool, England, made a giant video wall the centerpiece of the band’s set design for their 2022 The Prog Years tour of Italy. Rather than showing IMAG images or typical breakout patterns on this wall, Anderson opted for deeper and more thought-provoking cinematic images, such as an empty park bench and graffiti cover sidewalks being trampled on by faceless crowds for Aqualung, and stunt bicyclists for Nothing Is Easy.
Understandably, Anderson wanted nothing on stage to diminish the impact of these images. At the same time, however, he was also intent on having a colourful, dynamic lightshow and impeccable key lighting support the band’s performance.
Designer Gustavo Boetti, and the team at Fumasoli Audio & Light Rental obliged, evocatively lighting the stage and the artists, whilst also supporting, rather than distracting from the video wall. Helping them achieve this visions was a collection of CHAUVET Professional fixtures that included 24 Maverick MK2 Wash and 12 Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures, from Fumasoli’s own inventory.
To keep the wall centre stage, Boetti ruled out a number of effects such as dry ice and potentially distracting energetic aerial displays. Instead, he opted to incorporate a restrained yet creative application of lighting, drawing primarily upon the 12 (40 W) Osram RGBW LEDs of the Maverick MK2 Wash luminaires to create ethereal and sumptuous wash effects that doused the stage with atmosphere.
Instead of detracting from the LED wall, the lighting concept was thus able to underline a number of moods on stage, reacting to the ebb and flow of various Jethro Tull classics.
“It was certainly a challenge to do justice to such a creative and iconic music outfit such as Jethro Tull, who are traditionally known to have taken a keen interest in the role of light in their shows,” commented Boetti. “Thanks to our selection of Maverick MK2 Wash fixtures, however, we were able to create colourful environments and visual suggestions which complimented the video content projected onto the large screen.”
Positioned over three trussing structures hung centrally above the stage, the selection of Maverick fixtures served to illuminate the stage, as well as the first few rows of the audience, adding an immersive aspect to the otherwise traditional stage set up. The remainder of the luminaries were split evenly along the back of the floor to ensure a varied spectrum of front and backlight illumination.
To accentuate the stage area even more intently, Boetti drew upon the powerful throw of the 440w Maverick MK2 Spot to create unique movements of light. He also called upon these fixtures to draw shapes of light onto the stage area with rotations at low speed.
“As the band is very keen on utilizing gobo effects in their shows, we decided to take this one step further, harbouring the Maverick Spot’s gobo capabilities to create soft, textured throws to embellish the visual presence of individual band members,” continued Boetti. “What’s more, the interplay between the generous zoom of both the spot and wash fixtures ensured a sense of depth and perspective, which awarded the whole show with some unique visual imagery.”
On the subject of visuals, fans who saw Jethro Tull on the recent Italian tour left with memories of richly textured music and fascinating images in their heads. And whilst those images emanated from the central video wall, the beguiling light that surround them made them all the more unforgettable.