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Demi Lovato ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ World Tour

by Steve Jennings (Photos and Text) • in
  • Designer Insights
  • May 2018
• Created: May 14, 2018

We caught the Demi Lovato Tell Me You Love Me world tour, in support of her latest album of the same name, in its first week to a packed arena with support artist DJ Khaled. We spoke with the tour co-creative director and production designer Jesse Blevins and tour lighting director John Dacosta about the tour, which launched in late February and includes legs in North America (Feb. 28-Apr. 2), U.K./Europe (May 24-June 27) and Latin America (Sept. 20-Nov. 27).

DEMI LOVATO © Steve Jennings. Robe BMFL’s filled the stage with gobo-enhanced looks.

Jesse Blevins
Co-Creative Director/Production Designer

Initial talk of the tour started around the middle of last 2017 during the promo cycle for Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry,” where Blevins first started throwing around design ideas and seeing firsthand what worked for the promo performances and how to build on it.

“That got us to a really good spot and gave me somewhere to start from. There were several creative meetings that included Demi and her management when it came to the new tour design. Everyone was very involved in the whole process, and it became a true team effort.

“As always (or almost always), there were some changes due to both budget and logistics, but I think that is to be expected. The scale, size and impact of the show didn’t really change though.”

DEMI LOVATO © Steve Jennings. BMFL’s were also used for their ability to wash the stage.

Blevins had almost two weeks of production rehearsals. “Not a lot, but I’ve definitely been stuck with less. The music was 95 percent there when we started, as was staging and choreography, so we had full use of the time and weren’t having to chase our tails much with creating and making changes.”

One of the objectives of the shows’ design and direction was to make this feel as big as possible and bring the audience into the show, says Blevins. “We allocated as much as possible to the upstage vertical space to take advantage of the height and width of the stage and spread that out as much as possible. We knew we wanted to elevate the band and give the performance stage a nice clean background. The vertical towers exaggerate the height of the design.”

The Robe BMFL was one of the fixtures Blevins had spec’d, a multi-purpose, bright fixture. “I had never really used the BMFL prior to this tour. I asked Andre (Petrus, associate designer/programmer) and John (Dacosta, video programmer and tour lighting director) if they had, and what they thought, and if, in their opinion, the fixture would work for what we needed… They gave it their support, and they were not wrong. It’s a work horse — I’m very pleased with them and how they perform on the show.”

DEMI LOVATO © Steve Jennings. Pyrotek looked after the special effects on the tour.

John Dacosta

Tour Lighting Director

Dacosta’s first meeting with Blevins was in 2010 on an EDM festival that they programmed. “I have had the pleasure of working with Jesse on several projects over the past eight years,” Dacosta says. “It was no surprise when he called me about five weeks prior to the tour to ask if I was available.”

The designers have “a method to our madness,” Dacosta continues. “Jesse gives us a framework for each section of a song. Then Andre (Petrus) and I work though each song. If Jesse see’s anything he doesn’t like, he will let us know before we head too far down the rabbit hole.”

As the video programmer for the tour, Dacosta says, “I would jump in and build out the video cues, and then help Andre work on the lighting part. It was definitely a collaborative effort in getting it all together. We programmed about 16 songs in total, once we were into show rehearsal a few songs went away and the B-stage set was simplified.

DEMI LOVATO © Steve Jennings. Solaris Flare Bars filled spaces between the video panels.

“I must say, I was quite lucky to have been exposed to video right before it became so popular and the norm,” Dacosta adds. “The challenge is always to try and find that balance between the video and lighting, to let the video lead sometimes and let lighting follow. Having video is definitely a benefit, so much can be told with moving images.”

The show has stayed much the same through the course of the tour, Dacosta continues. “We have two songs that have position in the audience (at B-stage) which changes each venue, and there are occasional guest performers as well, but that’s about it. The show is pretty much 80 percent timecode, a few songs are all manual and some endings are done manually as well.”

Dacosta is running the show on the grandMA2. “I think the most powerful thing about the desk is the infinite possibility of what you can do with it. If you can think, you can find a way to do it on the desk, and because of that you can do one task several different ways. If I were to give advice to anyone new to the desk, it would be to always be willing to learn a new way to accomplish your task. Always have an open mind… Hey, I’m still learning as we speak.”

DEMI LOVATO © Steve Jennings. The band was elevated and blended into the media seamlessly.

There were some lighting fixture changes made before production rehearsals started, Dacosta notes. “I must be honest, at first I was a little worried because the Robe BMFL are so bright. But once we put them through their paces and figured out what we could do, I quite like them. I like them especially since they could keep up in brightness next to the Solaris Flare Bars and those have a punch indeed.

“It’s always a great time working with Jesse on these shows, especially to see it from concept to reality. I also had lots of fun collaborating with programmer Andre in building out the songs and making Jesse’s ideas come to life.”

DEMI LOVATO © Steve Jennings. The stark stage lends itself to a tender moment.

Demi Lovato Tell Me You Love Me World Tour 2018

Crew

Co-Creative Director & Production Designer: Jesse Blevins

Co-Creative Director: John Taylor

Associate Designer & Programmer: Andre Petrus

Lighting Director: John Dacosta

Lighting Co: VER/Account Rep Kevin Forster

Lighting Crew Chief: Glenn Power

Lighting Techs: Vreje Bakalian, James Brooks, William Rogers, Philip Schulte

Video Director: Kevin Carswell

Video Co: VER/Account Rep Mike Drew

Video Crew Chief: Austen Stengle

Video Techs: David Bergfeld, Kyle Brinkman, Jose Cruz, Andrew DiCarlo

Staging Co: Tait

Automation: Brian Rhode

FX/Cryo: Pyrotek Special Effects

FX: Amanda Pindus

Tour Manager: Andre Morales

Production Manager: Chris Coffie

VER Project Manager: Matt McCormick

Production Assistant: Joe Skarz Liz Dlutowski

Stage Manager: Geddy Lee Webb

Riggers: Nicole Didomenico, Bill Heinzlmeir

Carpenters: Bob Madison, Matt Sperling

DEMI LOVATO © Steve Jennings. ‘Thank you and Good Night’

Gear

2       grandMA2 consoles

140  Robe BMFLs

60     Solaris Flare Bars

16     GLP impression X4 Bars

8       GLP Atoms

8       DF50 Hazers

192  Win 9 Air LED panels

4       Barco 30K projectors

2       Panasonic 30K Lasers

2       PRG Mbox Studio media servers

More Demi Lovato Tell Me You Love Me world tour photos by Steve Jennings:

 

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