Roger Waters 2017 Us + Them Tour

by Steve Jennings (Photos & Text)
in Designer Insights
Roger Waters 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings
Roger Waters 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

Roger Waters, the co-founder of Pink Floyd, is out on his “Us + Them” tour in support of his new solo album, Is This the Life We Really Want? His live set included five cuts from the new album, with topics ranging from President Trump, climate change and racism. Those things are magnified with the tour’s production visuals — which includes a massive video wall and a truss that lowers down from the rafters in the center of the arena to reveal a replica of the Battersea Power Station from Pink Floyd’s Animals record cover (including smoke chimneys).

The structure lowers Rolio screens for various projected content, then there’s a floating orb equipped with a camera and, of course, an inflatable pig. Put that all together, and once again it’s a visual and musical feast. Waters, on vocals and bass, is backed by an impressive seven-member band and two background vocalists, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig (of Lucius) to perform such Pink Floyd classics as “Welcome to the Machine,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Money” and parts 2 and 3 of “Another Brick in The Wall,” along with so many other hits. The show closes with “Comfortably Numb.” We spoke with the tour’s lighting designer and director Pryderi Baskerville about the tour.

The camera work provided by PRG opeators was exquisite. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

Prydery Baskerville
Lighting Designer/Lighting Director/Programmer

Baskerville, who was Initially a moving light programmer with a background in theatre production, started to work in television in 2001. There, he mainly worked on music shows, which led to programming and lighting/directing tours, which he always wanted to do.

“I’d also been part of the programming team for large scale events such as the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the UAE, opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Some know my work lighting the band Simply Red.

Once again, the video content was just amazing. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

“When it came to working with Roger Waters, I was approached around 2015 when the first discussions about Desert Trip started. I’d been fortunate enough to be lighting director on the last tour of ‘The Wall’ in Europe, covering my friend Mark ‘Sparky’ Risk, who was unavailable due to prior commitments. During the Desert Trip and Mexico shows last year, we started discussing this tour in earnest.

The Clocks. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

“It’s a pleasure working for an artist that has such a clear vision. The design process is highly collaborative — the concepts come from Roger and the tour’s creative director and set designer Sean Evans. Sean and I discussed things with Andrew Zweck (tour director), Jeremy Lloyd (creative logistics), Richard Turner (video director) and longtime production manager Chris Kansy. Ideas were considered, some rejected and others developed. The basis was the highly successful shows we had done in Mexico and at Desert Trip, so that was a great starting point. From my part, I use WYSIWYG to visualize the various concepts, working on lighting ideas and then submitting renderings of these to the group. That’s not to say the design is static — now that we’re on the road, we’re still developing ideas. Roger and Sean watch playback of the show nightly, so the video and lighting are constantly evolving.”

Projection was used on the center rolling screens. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

Baskerville chose to use a simpler approach to lighting this show.

“Design wise, it’s important that the lighting is theatrical. By that I mean avoiding lighting for lighting’s sake. It has to fit in to the total narrative of the show. And simplicity is a major impetus. With such fantastic visuals from both the video and projection content, it’s important that lighting doesn’t try to dominate (and you’d need a lot of firepower to dominate such a large video surface), but sits symbiotically. So, there is a unity between all the elements.

The laser effects from Strictly FX and Mark Grega were astounding. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

“From a practical point of the design, I wanted to keep the fixture selection to a minimum, that is the same type of light. The core of the rig are the BMFL Spots, currently my ‘go to’ spot fixture. Bright, a great color temperature, lightweight, great colors, and fast. These are my overhead rig and side lights. I needed a fixture that wouldn’t get washed out by the video. And I’ve found them to be reliable, which is always a bonus! There’s also a large complement of Solaris Flares, which are fantastic. They act as a large backlight wash on stage, plus big effects in the house when required. They also serve as houselights, which means we’re not entirely dependent on arena sports lighting for walk in, intermission and at the end of the show.

Solaris flares wash the whole arena in color. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

“The helicopter effect in ‘Happiest Days of Our Lives’ is a VL6000 Beam. I was shown that fixture at a demo in London, and when I saw it up close, I knew that it would be the perfect fixture for this effect.

“I like the idea of using one type of source, and it reduces visual clutter. And that means that the trusses all look the same so you don’t have a ‘big light, small light, big light’ look to it.

“Sean and Jeremy [Lloyd] have come up with a visually clean design, so it was important that the lighting system doesn’t intrude. For instance, the floor fixtures upstage are hidden behind the backline. The GLP X4 Bars downstage sit on their own ledge. The side BMFL Blades don’t interrupt the video wall. The high side Tormentor positions SL and SR are hidden behind the PA. The idea being that you see the source, but not the mechanics (truss and cable) behind it.”

Roger Waters 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

Video Director Richard Turner is cutting the show at FOH on a Grass Valley Karrera Switcher.

“I’m fortunate that Richard and I have done quite a few shows together, so I guess we have a ‘shorthand.’ We tend to program together, ensuring that lighting fits in with video. As Richard is cutting cameras, I have a monitor provided at FOH so I can check cameras, ensuring a balanced picture for him. That’s down entirely to my TV experience I guess.

The Rolio screens come down in the center. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

“The video for the show is stunning, there’s no other word for it. For the projection, VYV have provided their usual magic for projection mapping of the Rolio screens, and the Battersea Chimneys. As an aside, VYV also provide me with XYZ positional data, there are infrared trackers in Roger’s in-ear monitors, which the VYV Photon system tracks. This data is then sent to the grandMA2 using the PosiStageNet protocol, so I can select fixtures to follow Roger. There are also trackers in the Flying Pig. I have four BMFL FOH dedicated to this.

“I’m proud to be part of such a fantastic production! Essentially, it’s all down to being part of a wonderful team of highly motivated people. I’m probably the most visible part of the lighting department but my part isn’t possible without the daily dedication of the great lighting crew who work tirelessly to get the system ready every day. They’re also supportive and patient of my slightly (read ‘very’) exacting nature.”

A world class band backs the singer. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         Kudos from Upstaging

Upstaging was proud to back the production as the lighting vendor. According to account rep John Huddleston, “This show is amazing! a must see! The images are amazing and the effects groundbreaking. I won’t give it away, but everyone should really see this show if they have the chance.”

The dark side of the moon displayed behind the artist. Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

Roger Waters “Us + Them” Tour (2017)

Crew

  • Creative Director/Set Designer: Sean Evans
  • Creative Logistics: Jeremy Lloyd/Wonder Works Ltd
  • Lighting Designer/Director/Programmer: Pryderi Baskerville
  • Lighting Co: Upstaging/John Huddleston
  • Lighting Crew Chief: Jason “Attaboy” Stalter
  • Lighting Techs: Paul Mundrick, Randall Garrett, David Lancini, Simon Garwood
  • Video Content/Animation: Sean Evans
  • Video Director: Richard Turner
  • Video Co: PRG XL Video/James Morden
  • Video Crew Chief: Gary Bierne
  • Video Engineer: David Rogers
  • Projectionist: Peter Tilling
  • Video Techs: Richard Jewell, Gabriella Linford, Ed Moore, Mark Hughes, Adam Cline, Ted Cognata, Jeremy Sorenstein, Jeffrey Juse
  • Video Design: Lucky Frog Ltd.
  • Video Technology: VYV Corporation
  • VYV Photon Techs: Ellie Clement, James Gardner
  • Production Manager: Chris Kansy
  • Production Coordinator: Kim Van Loon
  • Tour Director: Andrew Zweck
  • Stage Manager: Eric “Ski” Piontkowski
  • Staging & Automation: Tait Towers/Matt Hales
  • Set/Automation: Airworks/Matthew Whitehead
  • Automation: Gareth Williams
  • Automation Tech: Brandon Bogaert
  • Lasers & Confetti: Strictly FX
  • Special Effects Crew Chief: Vince Lopez
  • Laser Operator: Michael Hartle
  • Laser Tech: Eric Baum, Kyle Omar
  • Inflatables: Mobile Air Ships; Air Stage by Effekt-Technik GmbH
  • Inflatables Operator: Sean Jacobs
  • Riggers: Dave “Dash” Rowe (Head), Joe Anchor, Aaron Alfaro, Thomas Morandi
  • Carpenters: Denny Rich (Head), David Hall, Jesse Thayer, Jason Spisak
  • Trucking: Upstaging

2017 Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings


Gear

  • 2               grandMA2 consoles
  • 57            Robe BMFL Spots
  • 8               Robe BMFL Blades
  • 1               Vari-Lite 6000 Beam
  • 6               Vari-Lite 3500 Wash FX
  • 60            TMB Solaris Flares
  • 13            GLP X4 Bar 20s
  • 32            LED Beacons (Battersea Klaxons)
  • 4               LED Rings (Practicals for Chimneys/Smoke Illumination)
  • 4               Look Solutions Smoke Machines
  • 4               DF50 Hazers
  • 1               Winvision Air LED video wall (96’ x 40’ WxH)
  • 17            Panasonic 30K projectors
  • 4               Panasonic 12K projectors
  • 3               Grass Valley LDX cameras

Roger Waters 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

 

Strictly provides the FX. 2017 Roger Waters tour photo by Steve Jennings

 

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