Shadowboxing with Good Charlotte

The O2 arena’s return to live gig with Squeeze rescheduled to 2021.Photo: Lindsay Cave

Lighting and video rental specialist Colour Sound Experiment supplied lighting equipment, rigging and crew to the latest UK and European leg of Good Charlotte’s Generation Rx tour, working with lighting designer Paul McAdams who started designing for the band last year.

The tour – which culminated with a show at London’s Alexandra Palace- was project managed for Colour Sound by Alex Ryan, who McAdams said “was excellent” and dealt with all the advance and prep. Colour Sound’s Hadyn Williams was the touring tech, whom McAdams had requested several times to be his main person on the road, due to his experience and willingness to “go above and beyond” each day to ensure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

Encapsulating the gritty lyrics and hardcore punk-rock moments and reflections of Generation Rx, a work inspired by the current opioid crisis in North America and dealing with inner and outer pain, McAdams’ design for the tour was based around lighting and specific effects including CO2 jets.

He had the creative freedom to design the stage and place fixtures as he liked, however, there was a lot of input from the band about how they wanted the album artwork presented. Following these discussions, it was decided to use their five separate faces on five upstage banners, each flanked by six vertical lighting towers.

The six towers comprised 10ft sections of pre-rigged truss, each rigged with three Robe MegaPointes and two GLP Impression X4 Bar 20 moving LED battens (upped to three per tower for Alexandra Palace).

These were joined by four smaller scaff towers on floor bases, populated with eight Robe LEDWash 600s in total, with another couple of LEDWash 600s on the back of the drum riser.

9 JDC1 LED strobes were scattered around the stage floor.

The MegaPointes were the workhorses of the rig. McAdams maximised their multifunctionality with big beam looks, piercing aerial gobo effects and stark spot light instants. He used the excellent optics, multiple prisms and gobos to create “trippy and ethereal effects”.

Utilising the X4 Bar 20s, McAdams made the most of some spectacular depth effect chases – both upstage / downstage and right / left. “Using the vertically aligned X4 Bar 20s is a great way to play with perspective” he commented.

The LEDWash 600s were used solely for key lighting and washing.

Five of the JDC1s sat below each banner upstage, washing up the cloths at certain times, also doubling highly effectively as white and coloured strobes. The four downstage JDC1s created colour washes across the stage and augmented the retina-burning strobe-out moments when needed.

One of the main objectives was to bring the banners to life with lighting during the set, and the up-lighting helped accentuate a feeling of depth and dimension onstage for some specific tracks.

For the newer music, he used colder whites and blues and neon green palettes as a recurring theme. “The band was also keen on heavy backlighting and silhouettes on these tracks” explained McAdams, all of which helped in hitting the ambience sweet spots.

For the older songs, Paul went warmer on the colouration and effects, and the contrast between the two treatments enabled him to create distinctive looks for different parts of the set.

Challenges included adapting the rig to fit some of the more interesting or smaller stages encountered on the itinerary. Mathes Kuhn operated for the first week while Paul was finishing off some other commitments before joining the tour.

McAdams ran the show on grandMA3. MA has become his primary choice of console over the last couple of years. This tour was the first time he’d used the grandMA3 hardware, still, like many, running GM2 software, and he’s looking forward to going to running the full GM3 setup soon.

“H (Haydn Cruickshank) has always been mindful of budgets and tour restraints, offering a tailor-made service and support for each design” McAdams stated, “and this has always impressed me. If a tour will benefit from a particular product, he’s open to investing and I think that’s a great attitude”.

He adds that if anything needs changed or swapped out mid-tour on the road, the support is right there, and any issues are rectified extremely quickly – with a smile – and he’s always enjoyed top level crew from Colour Sound.

“Colour Sound offer a personal touch for each project. They’re constantly growing and evolving and I’m seeing the name – and the flight cases – turn up on a lot of tours and designs that I think look great”.

Keeping everything in order and running efficiently on the road was Good Charlotte’s production manager, Ron Gardner.