Lighting Designer, Tess Minor reflects on Steps’ What the Future Holds Tour

Steeped in plenty of ’90s nostalgia, Steps set out on an extensive UK arena tour that pulls no punches when it comes to theatrics. Lighting Designer, Tess Minor reflects on the creative process.

There is something poetic about an arena coming together to engage in nostalgic revelry after almost two years of hardship. Setting out on a five week run, Steps’ What the Future Holds Tour was set to be one of the longer UK arena campaigns of 2021. Regrettably, the run wasn’t impervious to COVID-19, with a number of band members having to miss some parts of the tour and the two final dates cancelled. That said, the group and the wider touring family still managed to get their ambitious show out to fans up and down the country. 

Having worked with Pull the Pin Out Productions on Kylie Minogue’s last tour as well as Creative Director, Frank Strachan on several occasions, Tess Minor oversaw the lighting design for Steps’ latest tour. “Frank already had this concept of ‘time’ using each part of the set as a different era,” began Minor. “I built on that concept, devising a rig that could look futuristic but then at the same time be pulled right back to the ‘60s.” 

Christie Lites supplied 44 Martin by Harman MAC Axiom Hybrids, 20 MAC Viper Profiles, 28 GLP impression X4 Bar 20s and 22 JDC1 Strobes, 12 Claypaky Sharpys and 10 Elation Professional ZW37s. Nine Chroma-Q Color Forces II 72s and six Color Force 12s, along with five Robe RoboSpot motion cameras were also present on the rig. “We were conscious about working both within the limits of the budget as well as ensuring it could all be loaded-in in a timely manner with the crew available,” explained the LD, citing the workhorse fixtures on the rig. 

“GLP X4 impression Bars were one of the first things I put on the plot. They are great at creating a clean look and were useful in following the time travel narrative.” The tour also saw Minor bring back one of her favourite fixtures from Kylie’s last run – the MAC Viper Profile. “It’s a great fixture in that it’s reliable with great colours,” she expressed. 

However, it was the GLP JDC1 strobes where the LD had the most fun. “I’ve never really got to use them in the full mode where you can get some really futuristic looks. They’re so punchy and it’s been so much fun to play with them this time around!”  

Minor put her faith in MA Lighting grandMA3 software and hardware to control the visuals. “With some time on my hands pre-programming it seemed like an ideal opportunity to get my head around the new software,” explained the LD, praising Ambersphere Solutions for “always being on the other end of the phone” to field questions she had about the system. 

“It was a lot of fun to be back on tour again,” concluded Minor. “It was a massive dance party, so you really can’t complain. It was also important for this tour to show people that you can go out on tour and put in protocols to get the industry back up and running. Granted, two of our shows were cancelled, however, we were still able to go out and have a successful run of shows and get everyone back to what they love to do and get companies’ gear and crew back on the road again.”

This article originally appeared in issue #267 of TPi, which you can read here.