LD Mark Jacobson comments on lighting The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Tribute Show. The tour is produced by CMP Entertainment.
Forced from the road in early 2020 due to the pandemic, Brit Floyd, ‘The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Tribute Show,’ is back after kicking off a world tour July 29th at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado beneath an all Elation lighting rig.
Brit Floyd World Tour 2021 includes highlights from The Wall, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Division Bell, and features a note-for-note performance of the epochal song Echoes. With their avant-garde lighting, graphics, props and sound effects, Pink Floyd has provided some of the most memorable stage moments in rock ‘n’ roll. No other band recreates the sound and look of Pink Floyd’s live shows like Brit Floyd.
The tour is produced and promoted by UK-based CMP Entertainment, who own and supply all of the Elation gear. Elation has enjoyed an excellent relationship with CMP over the years and many of Brit Floyd’s past tours have featured Elation gear. Chas Cole of CMP Entertainment comments: “Eric Loader was supportive of Brit Floyd in its early days with great product at a great price and even though we’ve worked the equipment really hard it’s held together really well and allowed us to produce a great light show year after year.”
Many have had a hand in shaping the Brit Floyd look over the years, a design that echoes Marc Brickman’s original and classic Pink Floyd designs of yesteryear. Mark Jacobson has been designing lighting for Brit Floyd since their 2019 tour and says there is no single designer for the show but has been the work of several designers over many years. “That would include Dave Hill and Jake Whittingham, along with Mark Jones Roberts, who is out with the current tour, and myself,” Jacobson says. “The show numbers are well-known Pink Floyd classics that have been around now for quite some time and the lighting frame structures of those songs were created before I got involved.”
Authentic Pink Floyd looks with new technology
Jacobson says that band musical director/guitarist/singer Damian Darlington, along with Chas Cole of CMP Entertainment, serve as “the gatekeepers,” making sure everything is authentic, including the lighting. “Ultimately the lighting is paying tribute to Pink Floyd in the same way the band is paying tribute – it has to look like a Pink Floyd show. That is the overall directive and that’s what people come to see. As great as a new look might be, fans don’t want to see something that looks like some other band. It has to look like something Pink Floyd would have done but we do it using this new technology.” The designer says the main directive of reference for the Pink Floyd look was from 1986-1994 tours – Momentary Lapse of Reason, Delicate Sound of Thunder, and Division Bell. Even when the band decided to cover songs they hadn’t done in a while, they sent Jacobson videos that showed how the look used to be.
Iconic circle truss with DARTZ, no arch
Nevertheless, some things do change. In December 2019, the decision was made to drop the emblematic arch truss design yet keep the iconic circle truss. The arch and circle stems from the early 90’s Division Bell tour and was part of Pink Floyd designs for years. The circle truss can trace its origins back to Pink Floyd shows of the 1970s. “The directive was to change it more to what David Gilmour has gone with visually in recent years, which is one large circle truss with more fixtures on it without the arch,” says Jacobson. “That led to the decision to fill the circle truss with 32 Elation DARTZ 360™ and we added Smarty Hybrids™ and Protron 3K Color™ LED strobes to the rig as well. The starkness of the circle without the arch allows for more dark space and more room for contrast.”
Previous designs had a smaller amount of fixtures on the circle truss, namely 16 Platinum Beam 5Rs™. The added number opened up new possibilities. “Doubling the amount of fixtures on the circle truss allowed us to do some Pink Floyd effects that we had seen pictures and video of but that we really couldn’t achieve with only 16 lights.”
The DARTZ, with their 3-degree aperture, gobo set and full 360-degree rotation, allow for remarkable effects on the circle truss cyc. For Jacobson, the iconic circle truss forms a part of his history and creating those circle looks has become his favorite part of doing the Brit Floyd show. “I got started in lighting in the late 80’s, and like many lighting people of the time, I was a fan of what Pink Floyd were doing on their Momentary Lapse of Reason/Delicate Sound of Thunder tour. As far as I know it was the first use of moving fixtures on a circle truss in the way that they did it, and I spent hours and days thinking about what a simple idea that was with so many possibilities. And they did all of those looks in a time when effects engines didn’t exist!” Jacobson says he also has a penchant for harsh angles on solo lights, “projecting almost straight down onto performers,” which he says has always been a Pink Floyd trademark.
Full Elation rig
The lighting design for the mostly time-coded show is consistent with that of the shortened 2020 outing with a few adjustments made before the tour launched. Besides the circle truss of DARTZ, Smarty Hybrid™ spot/beam/wash units populate back and side trusses with more at a floor position. Platinum 5R Beams™ work from straight trusses up in the air while Platinum 5R Beam Extremes™ provide big aerial effects from floor positions. Platinum FLX™ on front truss provide profile looks while ACL Bar 360s™ work from ground towers. ZW19™ beam/wash effects and Chorus Line 16™ pixel bar washes add color and effect. Protron™ strobes, both white light and color versions, and Cuepix Blinder WW2s™, provide pupil-constricting flares of light.
Handling U.S. tour support in the form of a 24-count motor package with distro and cabling, along with professional tour labor support, is Performance Lighting of Chicago. The company has been part of Brit Floyd branding since 2011 when they provided lighting support for the US tour. Performance Lighting President Russell Armentrout reflects, “We subbed their original lighting requirements and provided the tour with 40 Elation Platinum 5R Beams for the iconic circle truss and 14 Elation Design 1200C lights. That was the introduction to Elation Lighting! After that, Chas decided to purchase lighting and the rest is history.”
Brit Floyd World Tour 2021 continues to celebrate one of rock’s most significant acts and has been getting excellent response from eager audiences at each stop. The tour continues through the eastern and Midwest US until mid-September with a European leg scheduled to kick off in the fall.
Designers/Programmers/Contributors: Mark Jacobson, Dave Hill, Jake Whittingham, Mark Jones-Roberts
Manager: Chas Cole
Musical Director: Damian Darlington
Video Content: Bryan Kolupski
Media Server Curator: Tom Denney
Crew Chief: Sam Whittingham
Stage/Production Manager: Roger Middlecoate
Tour Manager: Alison Hocking
Tour Lighting Crew: Mark Jones-Roberts, Charlie Denny, Nathan Wilder, Mary Wistrom, Evan Porter (Performance Lighting)
32 x DARTZ 360™
18 x Smarty Hybrid™
16 x Platinum Beam 5R™
8 x Platinum Beam 5R Extreme™
7 x Platinum FLX™
29 x ZW19™
10 x Chorus Line 16™
10 x ACL Bar 360™
16 x Cuepix Blinder WW2™
10 x Protron 3K™
4 x Protron 3K Color™
Photo: © John Benson, Scott Margolin