Manchester lighting and visuals rental company dbn supplied lighting equipment and crew for two major UK shows - at London's Wembley Arena and Manchester MEN Arena - for Pakistani singer and megastar Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
dbn's Nick Walton project managed and also designed a production lighting rig to fit the show, which was based around Khan's very distinctive delivery. His performance features a lot of ballads and intricate songs and a very close communication with his audience.
Born into a musical family, he sings a mix of Qaawwali, a devotional music of the Muslim Sufi’s along with some ghazals and other light music. He is also a prolific and renowned Bollywood backup singer, has recorded over 50 albums, won several awards and toured internationally since his early career.
For the Wembley show, dbn worked in collaboration with London based rental company Colour Sound Experiment (CSE) to supply the gear as it made logistical sense. It also reinforced the spirit of co-operation which exists between some of the UK’s more progressive thinking rental operations.
Walton knew that CSE could supply similar equipment and could source all that he specified, and says, “We were very happy to collaborate with Haydn (Cruickshank) and his team on this, we are all like-minded and have a similar approach to work and business.”
The lighting rig was based around four straight trusses flown above the stage and six vertical truss towers on the floor at the back, varying between 16, 14 and 10 feet in height. These were all clad with dbn's own Heartwell Media 18mm pitch LED screen panels, providing an additional layer of visual dimension.
In Manchester these towers had Robe ROBIN 600 LEDWash fixtures on the top and a pair of Clay Paky Alpha Spot 300s positioned either side, further down the tower.
In the air were 24 x CP Alpha Wash 575 THs, 24 Alpha Spot 575 HPEs and two Alpha Spot 1200 HPEs.
These were all used to light the main performance space below, which featured a backing band of 16 seated musicians. The action was very much concentrated here, and the trim height of the whole rig was only 8 metres, a request from the artist, to reinforce the intimacy and intensity of the show.
dbn provided a 60 ft wide by 26 ft deep white cyc for a backdrop onto which Think events projected visuals and graphics.
The cyc was also lit with a row of Chroma-Q Color Force 72 LED battens. Walton made particular use of being able to soft-blend the Colour Force’s together and light the entire surface evenly and spectacularly with a wide array of colours, particularly pastels.
Two Griven Sky Roses – high power, wide angle multi-beam effects - were placed at the back of the stage to produce some glitzy effects, and the spangley bits continued with three large mirror balls, two on the first upstage truss and one on the front truss.
The only generics on the rig were a row of 4-lite Moles, clamped to the front truss to highlight the audience.
The show was operated by Mark Strange from Strange Design using a Chamsys Magic-Q console. The LED panels were fed content from a vision mixer supplied and operated by Universal Live from Bradford, which were then scaled and formatted via a Barco Folsom Image Pro video switcher before being output to the screen panels.
The same design and spec was replicated from the Wembley show. The challenges for both gigs were getting in and going straight into a show with no rehearsal time, and keeping it looking different and dynamic throughout the three hour performance.