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80 impressions dominate Westlife set

Designer Baz Halpin and show producer William Baker have created a new, sophisticated set for Westlife’s Where We Are arena tour. No fewer than 80 GLP impression moving LED’s have been incorporated into the set — cleverly positioned on ladders above the video screens to accentuate the height of the overall backdrop.

Halpin has become a devotee of the impressions, specifying them on Alicia Keys’ recent Freedom Tour. “I was impressed with their power, flexibility and reliability,” he stated. “Given their compact size and speed they can be placed in areas where most traditional fixtures cannot.”

Explaining the design rationale, he added, “For the Westlife tour, William was keen to create a feeling of height akin to city skyscrapers. The impressions were the obvious choice and I constructed a series of 10ft and 20ft custom ladders to peer over the top of the video screens.”

Another man already familiar with the impressions after using them with JLS was touring LD, Dave Lee. He said the ability to scatter beams at such high-speed, using the fixtures’ 660° pan and 300° tilt movement, evoked fond memories of his entry to the business after the birth of the Rave scene 20 years ago — before fast scanning mirror devices had been replaced by moving yokes.
“At that point you lost the speed of being able to throw beams everywhere. But now it’s turned full circle — the GLP impression is seriously fast and like a moving mirror with a color wheel.”

The eight 10ft sections (split five and three) are positioned above the video screen with each five impressions suspended from each ladder beam to create a tower of light. In addition there are four 20ft sections — two downstage left and two downstage right, each supporting ten more impressions.
“Set above the Vari-Lites these just create so much height,” says Lee. And with its rich color palette he says he is able to complement the screen footage (much of which is devoted to the skyscraper buildings) perfectly.
Appraising the performance of the fixtures, he says the quality of the white beam is particularly notable. “On some LED fixtures the whites are so dirty — almost lavender — but with GLP’s white balance adjustment they can match conventional HMI lights.” And impressions have the advantage of being lightweight, reliable and can be rigged anywhere, he says.

After announcing their introduction into the Westlife set with a violent stab of color as the band enter their uptempo medley, the strident primary colors then make way for softer pastels during the ballads.
“Using the standard (10°) lens we have been able to create a lovely beam. The colors are marvelous — immensely accurate and I can get the precise colors I want,” states Lee. “They provide the bulk of the looks — zooming all over the place with snappy color changes; you simply can’t get that snappiness with CMY mixing.”

The production is a far cry from the boy band’s earlier touring sets, which featured staircases, risers, ramps etc. and Baz Halpin is certainly delighted with the results. “The impressions have performed perfectly and one of their most amazing qualities is that you can place them beside a VL3000 or a Mac 2K wash and they stand up in terms of beam and intensity.”
With Bandit Lites providing the tour with equipment, production has remained constant throughout — although its ‘scalability’ may be put to the test when Westlife play the 80,000-capacity Croke Park in their native Ireland, when the rig size is expected to double.

Pictures: Baz Halpin