Few artist activists on the planet have had more impact than Roger Waters. Waters’ live shows present a cerebrally charged mix of music, politics, social commentary and visual intelligence in performances that are as captivating and powerful as they are provocative.
This meant that Lighting Designer, Pryderi Baskerville had one of the most demanding lighting briefs while on Waters’ Us + Them Tour. Working with Waters’ creative team Baskerville created a masterpiece of subversive industrial scale art for the backdrop using Robe lighting.
Baskerville has been Waters’ LD since 2013 and his Lighting Programmer since 2016. The Us + Them Tour started in May 2017 and will run until December 2018. For the tour Baskerville specified 97 Robe BMFL WashBeams for the stadium version of the shows and 57 Robe BMFL Spots and 8 Robe BMFL Blades for the arena gigs.
Waters was very involved with the production on his tour, and with his innovations in video over the years it was essential for Baskerville to have bright and reliable light sources to cover the 65-metre-wide upstage LED screen for the stadium shows and the fly-in Rolio projection surfaces that bisect the arena shows. This led to the choice of Robe’s BMFLs amongst other lights on the rig. “They are bright, offer great colours and an excellent throw as well as being lightweight considering their output” Baskerville stated.
The BMFL WashBeams with their even higher output were a natural upgrade progression for the outdoor shows. The stadium shows featured 15 Robe BMFL WashBeams rigged above the LED Screen and another 10 per side on two special PA mast torms. The sleek PA towers were custom designed and built by WIcreations for the tour. Each one was a half metre diameter, matt black coated round steel tube for a fully streamlined and modern aesthetic.
The stadium shows for this leg of the tour, in Paris and Italy and Latin America were outdoors while the rest of the shows including the Mexico dates were performed in indoor arenas. The arena show overhead lighting was rigged on three trusses, with 12 Robe BMFL Spots on the downstage truss.
During the shows, Baskerville was in control of the VYV Photon, Albion system for projection tracking system this allowed him to connect them to the IR Trackers embedded in Waters’ IEMs and Sax player Ian Ritchie’s trackers. This allowed him to make sure all the lighting fixtures focused on Waters during the song Picture That and then on Richie for his solos on the songs, Money and Us and Them.
When ramped up to stadiums, the 15 Robe BMFL WashBeams on top of the LED Wall provided both band backlight and massive imposing aerial looks while the Robe BMFL WashBeams on the PA masts and offstage torms also provided big, bold, raw looks, and provided the band specials. They essentially replicated what happened on the arena show torms, but were augmented for the outdoor shows.
The entire show was highly theatrical with high-impact visuals, automation and scenic props flying in and out. There were some big lighting moments, but essentially, it was there to highlight performers, complement the video content and sit within the entire production as a harmoniously integrated component part of a large performance.
Waters’ shows included some compelling video content so Baskerville had to work carefully to avoid illuminating the stage without distracting from the show’s narrative video created by Waters, he did this by using non-traditional lighting positions. Baskerville said: “Generally, being part of a very collaborative team means that any challenges are discussed thoroughly, and inventive and workable solutions found.”