BBC Radio 2 presented a performance from one of the world’s premier rock bands, on Wednesday evening (22 October) at the Roundhouse in Camden, London.
For the first time ever, legendary rockers Status Quo performed acoustically as part of Radio 2’s live in concert series. The BBC filmed the concert, with Jo Wiley on hand to interview the band afterwards. The recordings of the songs are available from BBC Radio 2’s website for viewing.
Lighting this unique style of performance by Status Quo was no mean feat. The band’s newly appointed lighting designer Ewan Cameron faced a few challenges. This was his first gig as LD, having recently taken over from Patrick Marks, who had been with the band for 25 years. The second challenge in Cameron’s new position as LD was to light the band’s first acoustic gig, and in a way that was going to look good on stage as well as look good on film for the millions of Radio 2 regulars and Status Quo fans who will watch the concert online.
Cameron knew that lighting the concert would be tricky. His starting point was thinking that since acoustic is simple, the lighting would be too. However, it was more complicated, and a very interesting departure from his usual designs he had worked on with Marks for the arena concerts they had lit in the past. He had to balance the change of musical pace and the simplicity of an acoustic mood with a design that focused on the individual performances of each band member, alongside highlighting a string section, accordion player and two percussionist, and making it look good on stage as well as on film.
He consulted with Mick Freer from Hawthorn to tie down the additional lighting requirements needed over and above the rig available at Roundhouse. This involved temporarily expanding the house rig to include more opportunities to create lots of new textures and subtle over effects. Mood and effect changes had to me more precise to highlight the different elements of the performance although the pace of changes was more subtle.
Hawthorn added Clay Paky 12 B-Eye K20’s to create soft colour washes and aerial beam effects. Using the K20’s was the enhancement that television viewers would have noticed the most. These were complimented by ETC Source 4’s that allowed the LD to include high contrast gobo effects on to the back stage 60 foot grey velvet drapes provided by Hawthorn. In addition, 8 Clay Paky QWO 800’s were added to the in-house system. This allowed more options for pin spotting the band members and other performers for camera close up’s, to zooming out to the widest 55 degree angle to create more textured lighting at other points in the performance – when the BBC director of photography was looking for longer and wider shots of the stage. The lighting additions were also chosen for their complementarity and sensitivities to cameras.
The design process started in September, with Hawthorn providing Ewan Cameron with Casts’s WSYWIG software to explore designs options in a virtual environment and pre-programme the cues needed for the final design. The design was tested at the Roundhouse the night before the live recording to see how the performances evolved and complimented by the lighting design.
“I was really pleased with the end result on this show,” Cameron said. “It was made possible by the wide range of equipment and drapes that Hawthorns have available and the dedication and attention to detail from everyone who got involved with the project. Mick Freer and his team never fail to deliver exactly what a show needs.”
This feature was written exclusively for Access All Areas online.
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