Despite the live events industry’s joy at the return of live shows, it certainly seems that there are a few more hoops to jump through than there were before 2020. From tighter budgets to ramifications brought on by Brexit, many are looking for an alternative solution to the usual touring model. Take, for example, the production team behind Fatboy Slim. The DJ’s 360° show [see TPi #236] was resurrected as live tours returned to the UK. After this run, the campaign had two more dates in Ireland.
Production Manager, Jake Vernum picked up the story. “The two shows in Ireland were standalone performances, and to bring over our full in-the-round performance didn’t stack-up financially,” he began.
“We needed a system that we could hit the ground running with, without a production day.” After a rejig of the show design turning it from 360° to 180°, Vernum called upon Just Lite to provide lighting and video with Magic Kite supplying a full L-Acoustics K1 system.
Paul Smith, who runs both companies, spoke to TPi about the benefits of being able to cater to incoming productions. “Since Brexit, it’s become much harder to move equipment from the UK to Ireland,” he said.
“We’ve seen a number of trucking companies from our industry move over to Ireland to ensure a more seamless delivery between the UK and the rest of Europe, but what we provided for Jake and the rest by the Fatboy Slim production was a viable solution to put on these shows.”
He went on to explain that for over 30 years, both companies – Just Lite and Magic Kite – have specialised in one off productions for touring acts. It’s also worth noting that Magic Kite is one of only four companies stocking L-Acoustics K1 between UK and Ireland this enables acts to cover large shows without the expense of trucking. “We keep a similar stock of equipment to many of the companies in the UK with the ability to put on a full stadium show, which I’m keen for more people to be aware of.”
On the question of stock, Smith explained that despite two years of uncertainty, both companies have continued to invest in new technology – mainly due to Smith branching out into the film and broadcast markets.
“We invested a great deal in numerous CHAUVET Professional products due to their versatility,” he explained, noting the IP rating of many of the fixtures, meaning they can be used for multiple applications.
The Color STRIKE M was one such fixture that was utilised of the Fatboy Slim production. “It’s a fixture that could happily light a building or sit on a rig at a dance event,” commented Smith. “The STRIKE M as a strobe was an equivalent to what we had been using on the previous run,” enthused Vernum, with the Fatboy Slim camp using a number of the fixtures during the two shows.
“It was important that we tried to replicate our UK system as much as possible with the equipment available in Ireland.”
Although the rig was not a like-for-like replication of the previous UK run, long-serving LD to the DJ, Stephen Abbiss explained how this different model of rolling into a tour was no different from a festival set.
“You program to the best of your ability and recreate the effects that are viable at the time,” he said. “As a production, we’re known for rocking up to shows with four people and five Peli cases. If we advance well enough and we know what we’re getting on the other end, we can always make it work.”
The FBS Team still brought some production elements over to Ireland from the UK. Longstanding, Video Director Bob Jaroc specified a Video Control Package from 4Wall Entertainment whilst Abbis Specified an SFX and Laser package from ER Productions. A staging system was also selected by Vernum from all access staging and productions. This all came over on one truck supplied by KB Event. “What we took over from the UK perfectly complimented the solution that Just Lite provided and made these shows completely viable,” stated Vernum.
Vernum believes more bands will take advantage of this model when travelling to other regions. “If company’s like Just Lite keep investing in kit, there is no reason why more people wouldn’t explore this option,” he confirmed.
Smith closed by sharing his excitement for the future as well as the news that he had recently invested in the brand new CHAUVET Professional COLORado PXL Bar, which were already in demand from his clients. Abbiss even expressed that he would have loved to get his hands on one and measure it up against the likes of GLP impression X4 bars.
With tighter budgets and a greater emphasis on sustainability within the touring community, perhaps we’re likely to be seeing more of these types of regional solutions in the future.
This article originally appeared in issue #269 of TPi, which you can read here.