HSL rocks UK arenas on The Prodigy tour

Photo by Louise Stickland

Lighting and visuals rental company HSL supplied lighting kit – over 300 fixtures – and crew to the UK arena leg of electro rockers The Prodigy’s The Day is My Enemy tour.

HSL worked in close collaboration with Lighting and Show Designer Andy Hurst, and also with live video specialists Video Illusions who supplied cameras and LED screens.

The Prodigy’s visual experience was physically large, appearing as a maelstrom of colour to classics like Firestarter and Smack My Bitch Up as well as material from the new album.

The set and visuals maintained some base common elements as they have evolved throughout the tour which started in Australia in February 2015 shortly before the album dropped, and continued with festivals and headliner shows worldwide, culminating in this sold-out UK arena spree.

Hurst wanted a bit of an abstract and urban look to the stage, one that was open to interpretation in a number of different ways. He explained: “I didn’t want something that was too literal and certainly not too predictable and I needed to follow the raw, edgy feel and vibe of the music.”

Visual elements included seven floor-based scenic ‘transmission’ towers upstage, commissioned by HSL from Alpha Fabrications, with dishes on top resembling satellite apparatus, and a large red fox backdrop. The dishes were made by Perry Scenic and painted in a distressed white finish to match other set pieces, which were also given the same distressed paint finish.

They were complimented by a massive 10-metre diameter trussing circle, made up from a number of interconnecting components and several custom pieces, which was inspired by some huge metal radio transmission antenna structures Hurst encountered in Latin America.

The spherical truss structure brought an entire additional architectural dimension to the stage and performance space as well as providing air based lighting positions for numerous fixtures.

The list of luminaires included 64 Philips Snowline E-Strip 10 LED battens used to outline the structural pieces, 54 Ayrton Magic Blade’s which were located on the seven towers and flown rig, 47 Robe Pointe multi-purpose moving lights dotted all over the circle and the towers, 46 Philips Showline Beam 30 FX moving lights, 54 Martin Atomic strobes, 23 2-cell and 16 4-cell Moles, 18 Robe LEDBeam 100’s, 14 Martin MAC Aura XB’s, 16 Robe CycFX 8’s, six MAC III Profiles, six Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 WashBeam’s and 20 Robe PATT 2013’s.

Fixtures were also hung on a front truss and two side trusses.

Much of the kit was purchased by HSL for the arena tour, part of a larger £4 million investment in kit by the Blackburn-based company in the last two quarters of 2015.

Hurst operated the show on his own trusty Hog Full Boar 4 system, with 24 DMX universes running over fibre via two of the new DP8000 FOH racks and a Luminex 16XT switcher.

He also triggered and routed the IMAG video fed via a Catalyst media server into the console and out to the two 10mm LED side screens. These had to be LED to stand a chance of showing up juxtaposed against the intensity of the lumen levels coming from the lighting.

The band action was captured by three Sony XC-100 broadcast cameras and three bulletcams dotted around the stage – all from Video Illusions – with a mix cut by Bas Logan, the band’s videographer, using a Panasonic AVH4100 mixer.

These TX feeds were treated by Hurst in the Catalyst to create the dirty aesthetic that the band wanted and all the effects in keeping with the oeuvre of the music and full-tilt performance with just a few seconds lull during Death Ray from the new album, during which he introduced some special LED effects supplied by Simon Dearie.

Hurst has been working with The Prodigy for eight years and they are still keeping him on his toes. “They don’t like using video in any traditional way, shape or form in the show so the challenge is coming up with an inventive solution that they will like. Related to this, the pressure is on for lighting as part of the visual equation!”

Joining Hurst on the road for the UK arenas was an HSL A-team crew of Ray Whelan (Crew Chief), Matt Brown (Dimmers), Johnny Harper and Jake Jevons, and co-ordinating everything from the office was HSL Project Manager Jordan Hanson.