The popular Bruno Mars 24K Magic world tour, which kicked off in the U.K. and Europe in late March and has been traveling around North America since mid-July, has been playing to packed arenas in cities (and many multiple nights). Bruno, band and crew head to South America later this month after four shows at the L.A. Forum.
Then, after two shows Dec. 30 and 31 at the Park Theater in Las Vegas, the tour resumes in 2018 with legs in Australia/New Zealand, Asia and Europe. Mars, a singer-songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist — and pretty good dancer, too — has a show that is musically uplifting and visual stunning. Bringing those visuals together are production and lighting designer Roy Bennett and co-lighting designer Cory FitzGerald.
“The marching order from production was that it had to be designed for 270° viewing. Every angle has an interesting view… an architectural view for everyone in the audience. Bruno has specific styling that he likes. He chooses specific decades that he enjoys, and for this tour, we drew from the 1990’s. In particular, we drew inspiration from the stage set of the Arsenio Hall Show and certain architectural textures from that show that really popped out to him.
“He was also interested in the fashion and styling of that decade. That was his inspiration for the outfits on stage. The textures of the Arsenio set next to the loud textures of the clothing would clash. So, I chose to simplify the set so it maintained the essence of what he was looking for, but with a modern feel. This allowed us the ability to draw from what he was looking for in a simplistic way, but that wouldn’t compete with the outfits that he was wearing on stage.
“In discussions with Bruno… I basically absorbed everything he was telling me and was able to execute the vision and succeed in incorporating all of the elements that were important to him. Utilize the power of lights and get all the iconic looks without being overpowering on him.”
VER supplied all the lighting gear for these looks while Solotech looked after the video needs. Pyrotek provided the lasers and special effects, 5 Points took care of all the rigging and Tait provided all staging and automation.
“With all my designs, it’s not just about the architectural/set design; it’s also about the lighting design. The architectural is very important, but both the lighting and the set work together as one piece. A lot of the design was based on the lighting elements that Bruno was looking for as well. And that’s why I have always designed both and intertwined the two. Bruno’s vision includes both elements, and mine does too.”
Bennett appreciates working with production manager Joel Forman, scenic/automation company Tait Towers and co-lighting designer Cory FitzGerald.
“Joel [Forman] is there for every step of the ride of executing the vision that both Bruno and I are expecting. He understands the importance of details throughout every aspect of the design.
“Of course there is Tait, and they have a great understanding of how I work, the things that are important to me, etc. But at the same time, they always deliver and find solutions to build what I want within the restrictions of the budget. Tait’s focus on the details is such an important factor in everything they do for me.
“It’s always great to collaborate with Cory [FitzGerald], and work together on some of the fixture choices that I was thinking about regarding the lighting side of the design. We utilized some new lighting fixtures, such as Robe’s Robin Spikies. Working with Bruno is always fun. At this point, we have a great working relationship and he trusts my choices, aesthetic, and my understanding of what he’s
Co-Lighting Designer & Programmer
This show evolved many times before it became what it is today, says FitzGerald.
“Bruno has an amazing creative vision, and I think that drives it to change as he sees new references as well as the concept itself, which then drives even more complex development. It is still evolving as he adjusts or adds songs to the show. It has always been a process with him, he drives everyone involved to push harder every day.
“The concept in general is very referential to classic shows by artists like the Jacksons and Queen, capturing the vintage rock and R&B looks while modernizing them and giving them a high gloss fashion edge.
“The amount of fixtures by itself gave us a huge canvas to create unique looks that are rarely seen anymore and the uniformity of the look was in and of itself ‘the look’ of the stage, so it was on us to create the dynamics in the music within that world.
“It was great to have so many fixtures to play with, but the goal was to create strong looks that could change with each song, yet keep the world of the show intact. I wanted to make sure you could look at any picture taken and know you were seeing the same show.
Along with Roy Bennett, FitzGerald credits lighting director and programmer Whitney Hoversten for shaping the show’s looks.
“While I programmed most of the show originally, lighting director Whitney Hoversten has stepped in and updated nearly every song to some extent, as well as added some new songs that have been included along the almost 100 shows so far. It is very cue-heavy, relying on a split of timecode and non-timecode songs. The show is very musical and has unique looks for every song as well as pod-position-based looks that require many departments and a lot of time to sync up.
“Each song is extensively cued out with multiple executors dedicated to different sounds or elements within the song. When not using timecode, we have laid out the songs in such a way to have easy access to what’s needed per section and allowed for as much improvisation as possible. It’s a lot to stay on top of, but Whitney does an amazing job and makes the show better every time!”
Bruno Mars 24K Magic World Tour 2017
More Bruno Mars 2017 24K Magic tour photos by Steve Jennings: