Bellowhead recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the band’s iconic Broadside album with an 18-date UK Tour.
Reflecting the nautical theme of that seminal recording, the stage and backdrop on this tour were adorned with evocative seafaring scenery, like barrels, decanters, and wooden decking platforms, which, combined with multi-colored stage blocks, created what one critic called “a visual delight.”
Contributing to this engaging panorama was a very flexible and dynamic Martin Dudley design that featured CHAUVET Professional Rogue R2X Wash fixtures that were recently added to the inventory of Martin’s Lights.
Flown over mid-stage, the RGBW moving fixtures were used to enliven the stage’s 12m wide by 6m high backdrop with a variety of rich colors, a task they had no trouble accomplishing thanks to their high output. ”I had a specific lighting objective that needed to be met on the tour,” said Dudley, “and the R2 Washes were the right tool to accomplish it. In the past, I’ve used these fixtures as part house kits on a number of occasions and have been very happy with them. The R2X has greatly increased the versatility of my kit.”
Dudley needed all of the versatility he could muster up on this sold out tour. Made up of 11 talented musicians playing more than 20 different instruments as well as contributing vocals, Bellowhead’s performance draws on a deep sea of varied creative influences, as their music moves from traditional dance tunes, to folk songs and shanties; all supported at times by a four-piece brass section.
There was not only a great deal of creativity going during this tour’s shows, there were also a lot of people on stage. “Just simply making sure all 11 musicians were lit was a critical challenge,” said Dudley. “Each band member is equally important and they’re all a featured musician at some point in the show. They could be standing on the top of the upstage risers where their faces are 10 feet above stage level, or they could be on the ego risers at the far downstage edge.
“Once I got over the terror of not needing to light the face of every musician at the very start of the show, I really enjoyed taking advantage of the creative opportunities. I liked the silhouette looks, especially in the song ‘Byker Hill,’” said Dudley, who ran his show on a ChamSys MagicQ MQ80. “Given the multiple levels of risers on stage, the silhouetting was very captivating when the shadows were lifted. The musical and lyrical content of the show was incredibly varied, ranging from beautiful folk ballads, through bizarre songs about burning pubs and eating beetles, to full-steam-ahead 100- miles-an-hour jigs and reels. Of course, the lighting always had to reflect the music and the audience’s experience.”
Working with tour manager Adam Maughan and lighting technician, Chris Davey of Touring Electrics Ltd., Dudley relied on a variety of techniques to create visual complements to the different dimensions of the show. He sometimes introduced dramatic new looks to his design through silhouettes.
Another special moment occurred during the song “Brisk Lad,” which was performed to celebrate the band’s very recently passed away member Paul Sartin. “This was very poignant” said Dudley. “We set a nice tone with a simple, intense blue wash and a custom gobo with his name on the backdrop.
“This tour gave me an opportunity to use a lot of colors such as yellows and greens, that I don’t often use with some of my other regular client artists,” Dudley continued, adding that the tour expanded his creative horizons. That, of course, is exactly the sort of thing to be expected when one sets sail on the sea of imagination.