Fleetwood Mac Goes Its Own Way

by Kevin M. Mitchell • in
  • December 2018
  • Production Profile
• Created: December 9, 2018

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FLEETWOOD MAC © Steve Jennings

Fleetwood Mac has passed the 50-year mark, and everything old is new again. The timeless band, founded in 1967, made two bold moves: one well-publicized, one less so. Lindsey Buckingham was replaced by Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Less known (at least outside our industry): The band went with a new lighting designer, Paul Normandale. As the story goes, Mick Fleetwood saw a Coldplay show Normandale did and was inspired to bring him on. “Mick was my first point of contact on the project, and it was indeed nice to be asked,” Normandale says. “I was keen to meet all the members of the band and establish a thread — and of course, learn likes and dislikes.”

The dynamics of the band was disrupted in more ways than just musically with Buckingham’s departure. “My goal was simply to be respectful of everyone’s wishes whilst trying to add value to a strong visual history.” Normandale did bring a fresh look encompassing lighting, set design, and video to the table. Once on the table, there was the natural give-and-take as the band, primarily Mick, pulled back to institute some tried-and-true elements from previous shows. The result certainly pleased the fans in the sold-out arenas the band is playing in. “I am proud of any element that my client is happy with.”

Also making the crowd happy was an infusion of songs not done by the band for a long time, and in some cases, ever. “The new songs were so much fun to design and program,” lighting director Chris Lose says. “We got to really go outside the ‘Mac’ box. After two years of the same songs, we got to let loose and write some new cues, with new content and a fresh direction. Having a new designer and new songs allowed us to go break off the rust and shine up the tires.”

Video director Jerry McReynolds agrees. “It’s fresh. The band is having a good time, the audience is having a good time, and I’m enjoying doing the show.”

FLEETWOOD MAC © Steve Jennings

‡‡         Crucial Elements

The rudder guiding the show visually is Lose (also a columnist in these pages). “I did the Fleetwood Mac 2014/15 tour, the Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie 2016 tour, and the Stevie Nicks 2017/18 solo tour,” he says. Normandale did not have a lighting designer in mind, and Lose was proactive in reaching out and asking if he needed assistance. “He told me that he would be happy to have me onboard, and I sealed the deal. As soon as the ink was dry, I told him how hectic it was to work for a band with so many larger-than-life temperaments.” This design came after the announcement that Buckingham would not be on the tour. “Without Lindsey around, the artistic licenses fell squarely on the other principals,” Lose says. “John McVie had a few suggestions about the overall image, but he never made his voice louder than necessary. Christine was excited that Paul Normandale was even asking her opinion. Christine has always taken a back seat to the visual design instincts of Stevie and Lindsey. Stevie was always happy to lend us some inspiration from a magazine or from her beloved trinkets. The absence of Lindsey did not slow us down much. However, his input was missed. He always knew how to push the limits of our creative boundaries.”

But other creative boundaries were expanded with the new band lineup, including a sampling of Fleetwood Mac’s 1960s, Peter Green-era songs. Neil Finn also came out and did an acoustic solo version of his Crowded House hit, “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” There was a Tom Petty tribute with Nicks singing “Free Fallin.” And two pre-Buckingham hits, “Black Magic Woman” and “Oh Well,” were also concert highlights. “The songs that came from outside the Fleetwood wheelhouse make a huge impression,” Lose says. “The crowd is so excited to see Fleetwood paying tribute to the bands and the songs that inspired them. Neil mentions how much respect he had for Fleetwood Mac before he was in the band, and Stevie reciprocates by saying how much she loved the song ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over.’”

FLEETWOOD MAC © Steve Jennings

‡‡         A Well-Oiled Machine

If, after 50 years, you’d think a Fleetwood Mac tour is a well-oiled machine, you’d be right. “Fleetwood Mac has always allowed ample time for programming and design,” Lose says. “We had three weeks in L.A. for production rehearsals. Fleetwood Mac respects the design process. We have time to look at ideas, explore options and make changes to maximize the impact.” Lose runs the show on two grandMA2 version v3.4.0.2 with two NPUs. A disguise/d3 media server is also in the tool box. In the “Don’t fix what ain’t broken” category, there’s nothing on this tour for him that he hasn’t worked with extensively before.

PRG supplied the lighting, with Screenworks providing the video. This is McReynolds’ third outing with the band. In addition to Campbell and Finn, he notes that they added a percussionist. (Two background singers and a spare keyboardist and guitarist were also along for the ride, as they typically are). Keeping the overall disruption to a minimum is the crew: “There is a lot of same crew/production people, so that makes it easier,” says McReynolds. The extra songs and performers required a different approach by McReynolds. “I have four manned long lens cameras, five robocams and four POVs — a total of 13 cameras to get all that needed the coverage.” As McReynolds has done a few hundred shows with the band, he’s got shooting them down pat. “I get input on certain specifics that band or management would like and implement those. In rehearsals, I sat and watched what Paul and Chris were doing, and asked questions so I could figure out what needed to go up there, and how I was going to do it.” (One fun thing one can’t help noticing: At Front of House, one camera’s riser is a foot higher than the other one. That was at the request of Nicks.)

Screenworks did their 2015 tour, and the two-year outing by Stevie Nicks following that. Marty Kell, project manager/touring operations, says Normandale pitched several designs that included different video configurations before the band opted for the straightforward LED configuration and a slightly complicated projection array. “We are projecting onto custom drops directly above the stage and two separate drops behind the LED wall,” he says. “The rear drops are smaller than shown due to sightline issues, with most venues being sold in 270 degrees.” Normandale did create 90 percent of the video content from scratch, and two pieces the band really liked from the last tour were updated.

Gear-wise, the newest toy in video-land is that disguise Media Server. “Everything on the LED wall and scrim surfaces runs through the disguise server: content, I-Mag, effects, etc.,” McReynolds says. “Everything is sized and manipulated by the server, and effects are done by Notch. All the projection is sized/warped by the disguise. The LED wall is the newest version of Screenworks X7, and the scrim projectors are the new Barco UDX-U32 laser projectors.”

“It is always a pleasure to work with this camp,” Kell adds. “They are class acts from the top down. [Tour manager] Marty Hom and [production manager] Bobby Herr approach everything with a positive attitude, and it is reflected in the touring crews’ morale. Everyone loves to be involved with a Fleetwood Mac tour.”

The tour, “An Evening with Fleetwood Mac,” launched Oct. 3 in Tulsa, OK, and will continue in the U.S. and Canada through April 8, 2019 before heading to Europe next June.

FLEETWOOD MAC © Steve Jennings

“An Evening with Fleetwood Mac” 2018/2019 Tour

Crew

Lighting Designer: Paul Normandale

Lighting Director: Chris Lose

Lighting Co: PRG

Lighting Crew: Ronnie Beal (Crew Chief), Tom Mayer, Alison Triplet, Josh Bazett-Jones (Techs), Brian Monahan (Dimmer Tech)

Video Director: Jerry McReynolds

Video Co: Screenworks

Video Crew: Roy Fountain (Video Engineer), Grit Frederick (LED/Crew Chief), Matt Lindstrom (LED/Cam), Travis Caron (d3/Notch Op), Jason Simpkin (Cam/Projectionist), Dave Moss (Projectionist)

Production Management: Bobby Herr (PM), Marty Hom (TM), Allan Tate (Road Manager), Ali Vatter (Production Coordinator), Larry Yagar (Stage Manager), Justin Wysong (Production Assistant)

Riggers: Matt Rynes (Head Rigger), Yader Mena

Set Construction: Tait

Carpenters: Jack Deitering (Head Carp), Mike Boyd

Automation: Madison Wade

Bus Co: Hemphill

Trucking: Egotrips

Larry Yager, stage manager; Bobby Herr, production manager; and Marty Hom, tour manager

Gear

Lighting:

2       grandMA2 (v3.4.0.2) w/ 2 NPUs

22     4-Lite Par 36 Blinder

48     Mac Viper Profiles

18     Mac Viper AirFX

14     Mac Quantum Wash

48     Mac Auras

24     Solaris Flares

19     Prolight Arena COBs

9       PRG Ground Control Follow Spots

Jerry McReynolds, Video director

Video:

1       ROE MCH 7mm LED wall (45’ x 20’)

4       Barco 32k UDX Laser (for rear drops)

2       Barco HDF 30K (for above stage “wing” elements)

2       Barco HDF 3K (for side screens)

1       Ross Carbonite Switcher

4       Sony HXC/HSC 100 Cameras

2       FOH 86x lenses

2       Hand Held 18x lenses

5       Panasonic HD PTZ Cameras AW-HE130KP

2       Toshiba Ice Cube HD POV Cameras

2       disguise/d3 4×4 media servers

Lighting director Chris Lose

 

More Fleetwood Mac 2018 tour photos by Steve Jennings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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