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Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters 2018 Tour

by Steve Jennings (Photos and Text) • in
  • August 2018
  • Wide Focus
• Created: August 13, 2018

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Carl Burnett is out with Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters tour as lighting designer and director, having worked with Plant since 2014. Burnett had worked with the tour manager (Gary Trew at the time) previously on a David Gahan tour, and when the position was open for a new Plant tour, Burnett was recommended by Trew. “The next hurdle was to meet with Robert to see if we got on… I’m still here, so that must have gone quite well.”

ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS © Steve Jennings

Burnett has spent about 50 percent of his career as crew chief and 50 percent as designer. “Both of these roles increase the understanding and ability to do the other well. As designer and operator, I have been privileged to work with the band Garbage form 1996 through 2001 then again in 2012. The Pet Shop Boys were an absolute pleasure to work with in 2000 to 2008 and pushed me out of my rock ‘n’ roll comfort zone into an unfamiliar world of controlled theatre style lighting and choreography where I managed to inject a little rock n’ roll here and there.”

Burnett also says he was fortunate in 2003 to design and operate for Duran Duran when the original line up reunited for the first time. Other artists include Alison Moyet and many others dating back into the 90’s and beyond.

ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS © Steve Jennings

For the Plant tour that starting in the U.K. in November 2017, Plant requested a new look and approach to match the energy and style of the latest album, says Burnett. “The main direction I was given by Robert was he wanted the show to be stylish, not too ‘rock’… as he’s done that before. Robert’s set consists of around 16 songs per night, but I have over 50 programmed in the desk.

“He wanted to add video to the show for the first time,” Burnett continues. “Apart from that, I was pretty much left to my own devices to design the overall look. After looking at different ideas and solutions, I decided to go with a pleated drape (gray Tamar) look for the show. It was agreed that video would be included on maybe four or five songs. I didn’t like the idea of a video screen that just sits there all show and gets used a few times, so I thought of using the drapes as the screen. This gives a consistent look to the show and allowed for a different look to the videos. While the design stays the same, the show is all about evolving as we go. One of the advantages of having the designer on the tour!”

ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS © Steve Jennings

Burnett notes there was no video content going into rehearsals, so they had a team there building content in a hurry. “We had three songs worth of video created but have rarely played all three of those songs in one show. Since the start of the tour I have been building video content from original song videos and some live footage we have gathered along the way. We now have seven songs with video content.”

Montreal lighting vendor Solotech supplied everything as specified on the tour, notes Burnett. “My connection with Solotech is with Paul Owen, of the Nashville branch. I toured with Paul in ‘85, so we have a lot of history. Robert has known Paul personally for many years, so he is always the first port of call for the Plant team, certainly from an audio point of view.”

ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS © Steve Jennings

For the most part, all the venues on this leg of the tour have been of a similar size, allowing the entire production to fit, says Burnett. “On other legs of the tour, where size of venue and budget have been an issue, I have carried a floor package plus some extra ‘spare’ lamps to fill holes in the house system. I have found this to be a great and economical way to work around for those tight tours.

As with all touring teams, band and crew, it becomes a bit of a family. Some of the crew have been working with Robert for over 20 years. It’s easy to see how that can happen, the vide of any tour comes from the top and filters down. Robert is so down to earth and easy going that he attracts the same in all the people around him.

“In general, I think that when the Plant tour moves on from a venue, we leave a good, happy feeling behind. Hopefully everyone involved has had a good time. Solotech have been great throughout the process of the tour. The equipment is great and the backup second to none! The crew, sound, lighting and video are all fantastic.”

ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS © Steve Jennings

 

Robert Plans & The Sensational Space Shifters Tour

Crew

Lighting Designer, Programmer & Director: Carl Burnett

Lighting Co: Solotech/Paul Owen

Lighting Crew Chief: Jean-Francois David Malette

Lighting Techs: Claude Saint-Cyr, Mark Singelis

Video Programmer & Director: Carl Burnett

Video Co: Solotech

Video Tech: Mark Singelis

Production Manager: Oli Powell

Tour Manager: Pete Hillier

Stage Manager: Scott “Yogi” Badeau

ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS © Steve Jennings

Gear

2       grandMA2 consoles

18     Martin MAC Viper Wash DX

24     Martin MAC Viper Profiles

6       Chauvet COLORado 2 Quad Zooms

7       Martin 3000 Atomic Strobes

16     Chroma-Q ColorForce 48’s

14     Thomas 4-Lite Molefay blinders

2       Look Solutions Unique Hazers

1       Christie 20K Projector

2       Catalyst media servers

 

More Robert Plant Carry Fire tour photos by Steve Jennings:

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