This word game was too tempting, as The Kooks chose their name from the David Bowie song with the same title, so we figured out Bowie’s lyrics were worth shining a light on this 15-year old and successful band.
They’ve just completed the latest UK and European leg of an ongoing world tour in support of their fifth studio album, Lets Go Sunshine, which dropped late last summer and hit a Top 10 in the UK.
Jordon Cooper of Moth Lights is their lighting designer and lighting equipment for this latest tour was supplied by award winning LCR – fresh from picking up the recent TPI Award for ‘Favourite Lighting Company’ – including 69 x Robe LEDBeam 150s and 32 x Spiider LED wash beam as the moving lights, plus a pair of BMFL WashBeams being controlled by a RoboSpot remote follow spotting system.
Jordon has worked with the band since the album launch last year. He was recommended by their stage manager Will Matthews with whom he’d previously worked on Band of Skulls, and when he and The Kooks production manager Dave Skelton saw Jordon’s design for Skindred at Brixton Academy, it confirmed his credentials as well as his talents as a designer and he was offered The Kooks.
He met the band and their initial ideas were generated – some of which they thought about for some time – and collectively arrived on the same page for the overall look and feel of the show … which had elements of a classic music TV production with some modern elements.
Lead singer Luke Pritchard wanted a riser layout that allowed him to move around and explore the stage, and once they had agreed on its basic architecture, the other segments of the design evolved quickly.
The riser layouts also needed to be adaptable for production elements that might potentially be added at later stages – like video – as the tour scales up, and for this leg just played, it had to fit into multiple sized and shaped venues and maintain the integrity of the design. A static upright piano had to be reasonably accommodated onstage.
They made use of a pink satin drape that had originated as part of a festival scenic design by Cassius Creative utilised earlier in 2018 before Jordon was onboard. Over the stage there were three straight 15 metre trusses, with another in the advanced position.
Trusses two and four were each loaded with 24 x LEDBeam 150s and on truss three there were 21 of the same fixtures. Also on the front truss were five profile moving lights for keys and eight LED strobe / floods used as for crowd effects, and sixteen more profiles spread between trusses two, three and four.
Punch and versatility in a tiny fixture
Jordon made the most of both beam and wash features of the LEDBeam 150s together with their punchy versatility in a tiny fixture indeed.
In specific songs he capitalised on their speed – quick due to the small size and light weight – one of the reasons for his choice. Positioned as they were, spread over all three trusses, they added more depth to the picture.
A cluster of three LEDBeam 150s on truss three were used to highlight Luke and other clusters on trusses two and four were used to cover other band members.
The Spiiders were all on the floor. Eight along the downstage edge were used at times for front lighting the band, and eight on the upstage edge created excellent fat beam effects at the back, with the other eight deployed four-a-side for cross lighting the band.
Spiiders from Mars? No, from Robe
The Spiiders doing the side and cross lighting gave a nice contrast to the top beams. “The colours are great” stated Jordon, and the beam angles allowed him to focus in on certain areas of the stage as well as opening out for full coverage.
The upstage row of Spiiders were used as back-light in a wide zoom as well as for narrower beams slicing through the air for the rockier numbers.
The downstage Spiiders joined the upstage ones in beam mode and also enabled Jordon to enhance the crowd with a subtle glow during more intimate songs. He switched them into flower mode at strategic moments which meant he could mimic other fixtures in the air with a gobo-style effect, which boosted the impression of how many fixtures were on the rig, and there were times when he used the centre beam of the Spiiders to mimic the LEDBeam 150s up above.
RoboSpots shine on
He appreciates the multiple modes in which the Spiiders can be run and the sheer range of options they offer. The BMFL WashBeams were both on the front truss and controlled by the LCR crew operating the BaseStation positioned in dimmer world. They were used to follow Luke around the stage, with Jordon maintaining control of all the attributes through his grandMA2 console apart from the pan and tilt.
He loves the responsiveness and accuracy of the RoboSpot system. Jordon has been using Robe fixtures in his work since his first tour design for We Are In The crowd in 2013.
The Kooks tour was project managed for LCR by Steve Bliss, whom Jordon met a while back. “I liked what I had already heard and seen of LCR and was keen to get them involved on this” he explained.
His crew from LCR were Harrison Cooke (chief) who was joined by Aiden Cartmell and Ben Hodgkins, and the tour rigger was Rik Foreman. “They were all fantastic. Nice guys and great fun to be on the road with! Nothing was too much to ask and everything ran like clockwork!”
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Text: Robe Lighting. Photos: Josh Halling.