Simple Minds tours with Robe

Photo: Thorsten Samesch – ToddeVision.

Simple Minds took to the road for their 2024 “Global Tour”, with a growing production with Robe iFORTE and BMFL moving lights assisting show and lighting designer Mark Wynn-Edwards. 

The tour featured 14  iFORTE in the floor package and three iFORTE for follow spot duties plus 37  BMFLs in the flown rig which are the main hard edge and workhorse lights of the design. All kit is supplied by Solotech.

The fourteen iFORTES are deployed on the floor are also part of the floor package that will be touring festivals in the summer. Eight are positioned upstage of the band on top of 7 video carts (also part of the floor package) and the other six are on the stage deck at the bottom of the video carts, also upstage of the band.

This lighting and video ‘low backdrop’ is a concept developed during the previous leg of the tour, with the idea of providing constant back-fill / back-of-shot eye-candy for video and camera recording and photos, rather than a black empty space, and bringing a nice depth of field to the stage.

This televisual approach featured two tiles of Roe Vanish screen per cart, and the cart numbers are scalable to fit the performance space or venue.

Wynn-Edwards chose iFORTES for multiple reasons including the intensity, the quality of the light output, the vitality and authenticity of the colours, the zoom and focus. This is his first tour using iFORTES, although he’s previously worked with them on TV shows and film shoots. “They tick all the boxes,” he declared.

The other three iFORTES are rigged on the front truss flown in the ‘advance’ position just above the front rows of people and run via a 3-way RoboSpot remote follow spotting system. The BMFL WashBeams are all in the overhead rig, which has lighting and video ‘pods’ hung on four above-stage trusses.

Five video screens are built into the pods complete with hanging positions for lights, and on the bottom rail of these, Wynn-Edwards can hang two BMFL WashBeams, a strobe and a smaller LED panel light. The truss-hung BMFLs are clustered together in threes, worked extensively and are central to the show.

He frequently shot these lights out into the audience filling that airspace mentioned above between their heads and the venue roof with colourful and spectacular aerial beams split up with gobos. Wynn-Edwards has used BMFLs for many years and they have become a rock-solid go-to. While he’s now likely to move to iFORTES in the future, he commented, “BMFLs are still a fantastic luminaire ten years on, and I’m still very happy to use them.”

He fully appreciates the products that Robe is currently producing. “As a manufacturer, they are innovative and very much at the top of their game, which is amazing!” he stated.

Wynn-Edwards didn’t receive so much input from the band but lead singer Jim Kerr’s brief was quite specific. “He wanted light to hit the furthest physical points in the venue at times and generally to make the whole experience huge,” explained Wynn-Edwards.

The fragmented video look is also part of Wynn-Edwards’ design, totalling 8 surfaces including the side screens. All of these receive video content commissioned by Wynn-Edwards and band manager Ian Grenfell and produced by John Minton plus the camera feeds which are also directed by John, with Adam Maffatt-Seaman for the European leg.

The challenge was to create a design that was adaptable and would go in and out quickly and straightforwardly, and that was also flexible enough to be able to light up to 140 different songs from the potential ‘pool’ of touring musical content.

Wynn-Edwards is enjoying the tour finding it invigorating creatively as well as working closely with his lighting crew chief Steve Percy.