Vari-Lite VL2600 brings style to Jacob Collier’s world tour

Jacob Collier's latest tour features an energetic lighting design harnessing the rich colours of the VL2600 range of luminaires from Vari-Lite.

Multi-genre English musician Jacob Collier is back on the road for a grand world tour to celebrate his DJESSE album series. The show features an energetic lighting design harnessing the rich colours of the VL2600 range of luminaires from Vari-Lite, a Signify entertainment lighting brand.

The design was put together by Luke Edwards, Specification Sales Specialist at Signify. Edwards, who was a full time lighting designer before joining Signify earlier this year, took the opportunity to push the boundaries of his lighting design dynamism, to match five-time GRAMMY Award-winning Collier’s enthusiastic performing style.

“Jacob’s concerts are as much about the audience as they are about him and I find working with him hugely inspiring,” said Edwards. “His high-energy approach to every moment is infectious and I wanted to create a design that would reflect that and embrace the natural colours of his DJESSE campaign. To that end, I chose colours that evoke the qualities of earth, wind, fire, and water.

“Usually, I’m not keen on using more than two colours in a lighting look but in the case of Jacob’s show I threw all my creative rules off the stage and used colour with the same joyful abandon he takes to performing, and it has worked beautifully.”

Edwards chose to use the Vari-Lite VL2600 WASH and the VL2600 PROFILE fixtures, which were supplied to the tour by rental company Siyan Lighting: “I wanted my colours to be sharp and clean, as well as deep and rich,” said Edwards. “The colour rendering of the VL2600 range gives me those qualities and much more. I was looking for lush, saturated colours that you can almost taste they are so good. That, combined with the internal beam shaping framing system, gave me all the artistic flexibility I needed from my overhead rig.”

A further dimension to the design was added by Collier and Production Director, Ben Bloomberg. Reportedly a tech geek, Collier likes to understand and interact with the show technology being used on the tour. To that end, at certain times in the show, Collier’s drummer, Christian, took control of the lighting via a MIDI connection from his drum kit to the lighting console.

Edwards explained: “Jacob really loves all types of technology. Being able to control the lighting from Christian’s MIDI pad was a real kick for him. Working in this collaborative way with an artist as inspiring as Jacob and his musicians and tech team can only expand my creative palette. I see my role as more fluid and interactive and that can be challenging but also hugely productive.”

The VL2600 PROFILE luminaires were rigged to focus on an upstage gong, which was positioned inside a dynamic, LED encrusted Jacob Collier logo. “I needed something powerful, with a good range of gobos and the same rich colour palette,” added Edwards. “I believe that the Vari-Lite optics and gobos remain the benchmark for quality for lighting instruments being designed and manufactured today.”

Collier asked Edwards to return to his tour’s creative team as show designer, having worked with Edwards pre-pandemic. “It goes without saying – and is only right – that I am not allowed to take on new design clients,” Edwards explained. “However, Vari-Lite has been kind enough to allow me to work with legacy clients that had commissioned me to design their shows before COVID hit. I’ve been working with Jacob since before the pandemic, so it seemed right to finish the creative collaboration we’d started back in 2019.”

For Edwards, going back to lighting design after moving into business development for Vari-Lite was a helpful reminder of the challenges of show design and touring. “I feel it helps me better connect with the designers I showcase our latest products to, as I can better understand what drives them forward, what they are looking for in a fixture and how they are likely to use them. That really helps me do my job for Vari-Lite and I hope other designers feel they can trust my contribution to the lighting industry.”

The tour kicked off its European leg at Bristol’s O2 Academy, England, in June 2022, following a host of USA dates. It continues later this year in Asia, before heading to Australia.