Queen + Adam Lambert World Tour 2017

by Photos and Text by Steve Jennings
in Designer Insights
Queen + Adam Lambert 2017 tour photos by Steve Jennings
Queen + Adam Lambert 2017 tour photos by Steve Jennings

Queen + Adam Lambert are back on tour and it also happens to be the 40th Anniversary of the News of the World album, which is nicely tied into the concept of the show. We talked to two key individuals who both have history with the band from previous Queen tours, lighting designer & director Rob Sinclair and set designer Ric Lipson of Stufish.

The wall of light tradition continues. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings


Rob Sinclair
Lighting Designer & Director

“We wanted to do something different with this tour — to move away from big back walls of light and have larger, more varied screen surfaces.

“Ric Lipson from Stufish and I presented some ideas to the band to be deliberately provocative at the end of last year, and after a small retreat, we were off to the races. The 40th anniversary of the band’s News of the World album tie-in happened later, when we started to think about video content and a theme that could tie the show together.

“It was Brian May’s idea to use the robot from the News of the World album artwork and bring him to life, and it’s worked out brilliantly. There’s just enough of him during the show for that added touch. One ‘eureka moment’ of turning the stage/ramp into a guitar shape gave us a really great, fun anchor for the whole show.”

The Tait Navigation system tilts the rig on nine hoists. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings

When initially conceived, the oval halo kinetic lighting rig was a giant par can.
“At times, it’s the world’s biggest light, with all 92 [Claypaky] Sharpy Washes acting as one. We needed fixtures that were reliable, small and bright. It’s quite the beast to build. Custom bars hold all the lights, and it flies on Tait Nav hoists to safely do all the movements. Other fixtures we’re using are [Claypaky] Mythos and Scenius Unicos, [Vari-Lite] VL6000s, [Martin] Atomic LEDs and some 8-Lite Moles.

“The last Queen tour used 14 spotlights. We’ve removed all of them and transferred to a Blacktrax system, and it’s been great, with so much more precision and consistency.”

CT provided the curved video wall above the rig. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings

The video content was all put together by Sam Pattinson of Third Company and the team at Treatment.
“There are obvious moments for the lighting to take a backseat, for other elements to take place in the show such as the lasers during Brian’s guitar solo segment. The band love lasers. We showed them the pastel flatscans from the 30W Phaenon units and then reprogrammed the show around them. It’s great to keep a big laser look but freshen it up.

“We also used a lot of Notch looks to change I-Mag… sometimes subtly to give the band a glow, sometimes more obviously like the lightning in ‘Stone Cold Crazy.’ The band don’t love LED, and we did a show last summer with hundreds of Auras, so I wanted to go all-arc for these shows.

“The band are very involved. They send notes or suggestions through every night and come and look at things in the afternoon. The band are tough bosses with high standards, and the only way I can even come close to meeting their expectations is with a great team. We truly have some of the most talented people on our crew, and I love them all.”

Adam Lambert, perched on top of the robot head inspired by Queen's 'News of the World' album artwork - which was Brian May's idea, according to Rob Sinclair. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings

Ric Lipson
Set Designer, Stufish
This is the third Queen + Adam Lambert tour that Stufish and Rob Sinclair have designed together. The previous tours were focused around a “Q” logo with an oval screen in the center that was mainly for I-Mag, says Lipson.

“When we met the band for the first time to discuss this tour, we all agreed that we wanted to create something that was more video-content heavy, that could use I-Mag in new ways and help to present the band in a more contemporary way, to create a more kinetic show with elements that could layer and immerse the band in different lighting and video environments.

The overhead oval was full with Sharpy Wash fixtures. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings



“This large kinetic halo lighting rig was the first thing that came into the design. It echoed a previous Queen show from the 70’s and was meant to give the idea of a space ship, or a large par can light bulb hanging above the stage. This halo became surrounded by a video screen upstage and curved downstage screen that could move up and down with the halo to make interesting and dynamic visual effects.”

The thrust took on a guitar shape. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings

The guitar shaped stage was not the original intent, says Lipson.
“We explored different options for catwalks, but it was by chance that we (with the band) realized this looked a little like a guitar. We then worked with Brian to adapt the shape to make it look more like the classic design of his ‘Red Special’ guitar and used red chrome for the edges of the stage and the outer halo. The B stage is also modeled on the head of the guitar.”

This was Adam Lambert's third tour with Queen. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings
A lot of video concepts were discussed in early days together with Sam Pattinson from Treatment Studio (the content producer). “These concepts developed and we used most of them in the real show,” says Lipson.
“The biggest development was the animation of ‘Frank’ the robot. This character on the front of the News of the World album seemed like a great thread that we could weave through the show to make various interventions into the show and create some spectacular moments of scale. This character was so successful that we then created a physical scenic prop head that Adam rides in ‘Killer Queen’ as it rises out of the stage.

Video and Blue set the mood. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings
“The show uses a lot of existing technology, but in a new way. We used Tait Navigator for the automation. The stage lifts and the video screens are relatively easy to control, as they only move up and down. The Halo, however, is a different beast, with its nine Nav hoists to take the weight of the piece which are all coded and programmed to work together to allow the Halo to move up, down and tilt left to right and front to back.

“Also useful for the show is Notch. Operated by Neil Holloway, this video software works together with the d3 to take the I-Mag (video directed by Steve Price) to make spectacular effects throughout the show. Whether the band look like they are electrified in ‘Stone Cold Crazy,’ to looking made from gold in ‘We are the Champions’ this was a wonderful addition to the show that Sam’s team brought into the mix. Another fun part of the show is the eyes of the robot head that Adam rides on. We developed a live 3D model in Notch of the eyeballs. The scenic head has two high res LED screens where the eyes would be. The eyes are created live through the Notch server. This renders on the fly and allows Neil to use faders on the desk to pan and tilt the eyes to follow Brian as he walks around the head. There is also a function to make the eyes blink.”

ER productions supplied lasers. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings

The tour’s vendors include Upstaging for lighting, Creative Technology for video (with video structures by ACASS-Systems), staging/automation by Tait, special effects from Quantum and lasers from ER Productions.
“The curved video screen created some challenges, but between CT and ACASS-systems, they developed a great bracket plate and curved bar that holds the front screen with very little visible structure.

“Tait was headed up by Mickey C [Curbishley], with project management from Brian Levine and Shannon Nickerson. This was a great collaboration between Tait and Stufish to create another wonderful product.

Quantum  Special Effects punctuated the show's looks. 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings
“With Quantum, the stage has various special effects from low fog, to CO2 jets and many smoke and haze machines. The end of the show is complete with a spectacular gold confetti drop that covers the audience.

“Quantum supplied the show with various high powered lasers that integrate into the spaces around the stage and along the back of the band riser. Between Quantum and Tait, we developed a lifting column that has the lasers attached to the top that rises behind the drum riser for various moments of the show.”

2017 Queen + Adam Lambert tour photo by Steve Jennings

The whole crew is headed up by production manager Fred Breitfelder and stage manager Roger Cabot who work hard to move this mammoth show around, notes Lipson.
“There are some spectacular moments in the show. One is where Brian is revealed and is seen to be lifted up into space by a video representation of the robot hand. Standing on top of a large bridge that sits in the stage, Brian is attached to a brace on the lift that rises 4m into the air behind a see through video screen. Backed by spectacular visuals from Third Co, surrounded by lasers from ER, with amazing lighting by Rob, on a scissor lift from Tait, and design from Stufish, this team is a wonderful example of complete creative and technical collaboration to achieve a great show.” 

 

Queen + Adam Lambert North America Tour 2017

Crew

  • Set Designer: Stufish/Ric Lipson
  • Lighting Designer & Director: Rob Sinclair
  • Lighting Crew Chief: Franklin Antonio
  • Lighting Techs: Matthew Wright, Robin Sheridan, Willie Coster,
  • James Michaelis, Jeffrey Mosher
  • Video Crew Chiefs: Jason Forsythia, Adrian Grau
  • Video Techs: Bill Farr, Robyn Tearle, Gary Dunn,
  • Dylan Wilson-Wright
  • Screens Director: Steve Price
  • Automation Techs: Doug Sager, Lynn Dee Lyndquist
  • Camera Supervisor: Liselle Bertrand
  • Content Programmer: Neil Holloway
  • Tour Director: Juliette Slater
  • Band Road Manager: Catherine Bentley
  • Production Manager: Fred Breitfelder
  • Production Stage Manager: Roger Cabot
  • Production Assistant: Helen Smith
  • Show Stage Manager/Carpenter: Andy Bews
  • Blacktrax Programmer: Sam Augustus
  • Lasers Programmers: Lawrence Wright, Jamie Goodwin
  • SFX Technician: Ross Deeker
  • Head Electrician: Pete Wills
  • Riggers: Joe Allen (Head), Alex Roccos
  • Carpenters: Mike Howson (Head), Chris Aram, Andy Rye, Jack Wills

Production Companies:

  • Set Design & Creative Direction: Stufish/Ric Lipson
  • Set Fabrication & Automation: Tait Towers/Mickey Curbishley
  • Lighting: Upstaging/John Bahnick
  • Video: Creative Technology/Graham Miller
  • Content Creation: Third Company/Sam Pattinson
  • Lasers: ER Productions/Marc Webber
  • SFX: Quantum Special Effects/Shaun Barnett
  • Blacktrax: Dark Arts/Oli Metcalfe
  • Trucking: Truck N’ Roll/Ghislain Arsenault

Gear

Lighting:

  • 56       Claypaky Scenius Unico
  • 70       Claypaky Mythos
  • 92       Claypaky Sharpy Wash 330 Fresnel
  • 21       Vari-Lite VL6000 Beam
  • 10       Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash
  • 16       Par 64 VNSP
  • 23       8 Lite Mole DWE
  • 12       4 Lite Mole DWE
  • 26       Martin Atomic LED Version
  • 2          Hands Vista L5 Lighting consoles
  • 8          DF50 Hazers
  • 8          Look Solutions Viper Foggers
  • 1          Blacktrax system w/ 6 trackables

Video:

  • 1          Upstage LED screen 17m x 6m (34 x 6 tiles) Glux 10mm
  • 1          “Visor Screen” — 24m x 4m (48 x 4 tiles) Glux 10mm LED
  • 2          “Eyes screens” — two tiles of 3.9mm LED fitted into the robot head

 

More Queen + Adam Lambert 2017tour photos by Steve Jennings:

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