The National works with Robe Down Under

Photo: Louise Stickland.

The National’s touring lighting crew utilised a mix of Robe BMFL Blade and Spiider wash beam moving lights for their show at Auckland, New Zealand’s Spark Arena venue, for which equipment was supplied by rental company Oceania Productions (part of NW Group), and used to to realise a version of Michael Brown’s production lighting design.

The production was co-ordinated on the road by Production Manager Stuart Trenold and included Lighting and Video Crew Chief Emil Hojmark from Denmark and Lighting Director Matt Greer from Virginia, USA who is operating lighting on the road.

Hojmark headed up the multitasking touring visual crew of four having started as The National’s video tech 12 years ago. Production Designer Michael Brown is known for his adventurous designs and Greer was responsible for delivering this art at each venue.

The fixture counts usually remain the same, but the kit can also vary when supplied locally, depending on what is available, as was the case for the two shows in New Zealand. The National’s standard rider spec included Robe Spiiders and MegaPointes, “which are great, we love these fixtures, and MegaPointes are one of Michael’s favourites – he uses them a lot,” explained Hojmark.

They would typically utilise 35 MegaPointes, rigged on custom frames with a video pod fixture hung a metre below each moving light, a meticulous design that needs precise alignment in larger arenas.

In New Zealand things were different, they used a 12-metre wide by 5.5-metre-deep upstage video screen, with the MegaPointes replaced by the BMFL Blades, seven of which were rigged on each of four overhead trusses (total of 28), together with six Spiiders per truss (24 in total). The video panels were spread around the band on the deck in this iteration of the stage design.

“Spiiders are almost universally available everywhere that we are going,” said Hojmark. “So they are a constant that rarely changes.” He added that they were picked for their great coverage, good range of whites, excellent colour mixing and general versatility.”

The production is carrying their own control package on the whole tour which included one lighting console plus a separate one onstage for DMX video control over four robo-cameras and playback sources.

Greer has been working with The National since 2021 when they re-started touring after the pandemic. He liked how the colour range of MegaPointes enabled the expansion of their scenes to include many gobo looks, both aerial and projected, sometimes combined with the animation wheel to match the style and texture of the video content which was produced by Ben Krall.

Spiiders were another choice based on availability: “We needed a powerful wash but one that wasn’t too physically large,” he added.

From a local production and rental company perspective, NW Group / Oceania Project Manager Brent Greenwood, appreciated the Robe fixtures. He commented: “It was a great opportunity for the NW Group / Oceania to demonstrate its commitment to excellent crew and products by touring these shows back-to-back with a seriously creative lighting rig containing many Robe products.  While New Zealand is a limited market with us being at the bottom of the world, we can and do deliver killer shows meeting the highest spec’d riders like this one!”

In Australia, The National’s Robe Spiiders and MegaPointes were part of lighting packages from Sydney-based Chameleon covering the Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne performances, and Showscreens for the final gig in Perth.