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Light in Performances

Posted by Cristina Escofet on 26 Apr 2016

It used to quite often be the case that architectural lighting designers had their roots in the theatre and entertainment lighting industries. This is less common now but there is an inevitable crossover in all aspects of our work and passion that will always be there. We've all spent far too much time during a performance looking upwards trying to figure out the hows, whys and wherefores!

Recently we have been lucky enough to witness two spectacular performances by Massive Attack and Muse, where we have made no such attempts to second guess what was going on and just enjoyed them (through lighting designer's eyes nonetheless).

Massive Attack collaborated with the fantastic UVA (United Visual Artists) at their gig at the Brixton Academy and used lighting effects and imagery to complement the music to maximum effect.  For some of the bigger, slower tracks, the approach was brilliantly classic and you could just let the sublime vocals wash over you. During more DJ led tracks graphics, which were funny and overtly political at times, filled the screens that took up the whole backdrop - really pushing home Massive Attack's agenda at the same time as entertaining us.

Friends in the mosh pit didn't notice the screens, others had to shut their eyes for fear of visual overload but for me, stood midway in the crowd, Massive Attack and UVA were the perfect union and they created an amazing audio and visual experience.

Muse is known for their phenomenal live performances and their last gig at the O2 proves why they have won Best Live Band more than once. 

Drones, the name of their current tour, shows how the band worked closely with lighting designer Oli Metcalfe to deliver a show whose concept ties in with the narrative of their seventh album. The 360 degree stage was designed to place the band in the middle of the arena. A central catwalk enabled Matt Bellamy to take his guitar sounds from one side of the venue to the other while giant balloon drones descended and flew around the stage. 

The whole show was a perfect choreography of lighting and sound. The lights changed colour and intensity to the beat of the drums, blue for mellow tunes, all sorts of colours sang along to Starlight while bright red made the crowd go crazy with Time Is Running Out. I cannot forget the projection of a hand mimicking Matt’s change of cords, almost turning him into a puppet! This was not my first Muse concert and it will definitely not be the last.