Yenz Nyholm specifies Robe fixtures for Marillion Convention in Berlin

Photo: Josh Mainka

For the last 21 years, Rock band Marillion has staged biennial two and three-day summer convention events for fans, which include special live performances plus additional Marillion world activities.

Lighting Designer Yenz Nyholm’s specification for the 2023 Marillion convention included nearly 100 Robe moving lights – 31 Robe ESPRITES, 22 LEDBeam 150s, 16  MegaPointes and 30 Spiider LED wash beams.

Conventions were staged in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Canada. For the shows at Berlin Tempodrom, Leipzig-based rental company Konteg supplied the full Robe package, so Yenz was delighted.

Marillion treat the conventions as a chance to up the production values and have a larger show than they might necessarily carry on a standard tour, Over the past 5 years, the band has veered away from having prominent video surfaces onstage, but this year a striking upstage LED screen was back, which provided a major starting point for Nyholm’s lighting design. For obvious reasons, output was central when choosing lighting fixtures.

“I always start with Robe MegaPointes if I can fit them into the design,” Nyholm explained. “They are always on the plot somewhere as one of my must-haves.” For the Berlin show, half the MegaPointes were hanging from the back truss and the other eight were positioned on the floor.

These were used for all the potent beams, fast movement, and for creating some spectacular mirror ball moments, a look which has crept increasingly into the set. “MegaPointes shooting onto mirror balls look simply amazing,” enthused Nyholm, adding that just eight MegaPointes and multiple mirror balls unlock a massive range of looks all perfect for the huge dynamics of a Marillion set.

Next on the plot were the LEDBeam 150s, Nyholm emphasised: “They are brilliant, small, light and very powerful”. The LEDBeam 150s were utilised for audience lighting, rigged on the front truss in Berlin where they beamed out and enveloped the crowds, also providing nice tight beams back onto the band and some even key lighting. “They are just so versatile!” Nyholm commented. All Yenz’s lighting designs since the pandemic have started with a case of eight LEDBeam 150s.

The 31 ESPRITES were at the core of the convention tour design. Like the LEDBeam 150s, Yenz appreciates the brightness, clarity, mid-air effects and they have become his main workhorse.In Berlin, 19 spread out across the overhead trusses, with 12 on the floor

This convention tour was the first time he had actually used ESPRITES, one of Robe’s current TE series, but he has been wanting to do this for some time. Describing them as a “rock-solid reliable” product, he appreciates the uniformity of colour, gobo selection, speed and the smoothness of the fixtures: “ESPRITES are a new go-to for me.”

Spiiders are another moving light hat he thinks these are adaptable in all modes, and another robustly made Robe regular for festivals. For some larger UK shows, Yenz has started spec’ing RoboSpots, usually with BMFL WashBeams. When possible, he specs 3 RoboSpot systems to cover the three main artists.

He programmed and ran the convention tour shows using an Avolites Titan Mobile console running the latest software.

Challenges included having to programme lighting for between 55 and 60 songs as each convention live show is unique with a different set. All this keeps Yenz on his toes whilst designing, operating, and enjoying being part of the Marillion family. He lit his first Marillion convention back in 2004 and has seen the phenomenon grow steadily ever since.