Currently on the road until the end of October, the Mark Knopfler & Band tour brings all-time Dire Straits and Knopfler classics such as Sultans of Swing and Brothers in Arms to packed arenas throughout Europe and North America.
Not wanting to create a show any less than impressive for the multi-million-selling singer-songwriter – who also ranks 44th on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarists of all time, lighting designer Mark Henderson incorporated 22 CHAUVET Professional Nexus Aw 7×7 panels within the lighting show to stunning theatrical effect.
Henderson – an award-winning theater lighting director – has worked on countless theatrical productions in London’s West End, New York and Las Vegas. When he was asked to LD Kate Bush’s 22-date sell-out comeback residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, a new opportunity was presented to him to apply his theatrical touch within the medium of the rock n’ roll show. It was precisely the theatrical aspect of this lighting design that caught the attention of Mark Knopfler’s entourage.
“Mark Knopfler’s Production Manager (Kevin Hopgood) came to see the Kate Bush show,” commented Henderson. “He knew Mark was looking for a new lighting designer with a slightly more theatrical approach, and so he recommended me to Mark.”
The theatrical approach is certainly evident within Mark Knopfler’s lighting design. While the design exudes a certain minimalism lacking in many rock show lighting designs, it is precisely this simplicity that gives the show its refreshing look, thanks in no small part to the role played by the CHAUVET Professional Nexus Aw 7x7s.
“I’ve personally never had to integrate the scenic and lighting together in the design, but the Nexus 7x7s became an integral part for me to achieve this marriage between scenery and lighting, especially with regards to adding that extra visual emphasis to the music.”
The stage comprises two central elements. At the back of the stage, a spit screen cyclorama radiates various colors and textures at different points in the show. At the front of the stage and above, the Hawthorn-supplied CHAUVET Professional Nexus Aw 7x7s are placed strategically along the rectangular-shaped trussing above the stage.
“With the Nexus fixtures I was able to recreate that warm tungsten look, thus giving the show more of an element of classic theatrical lighting,” said Henderson. “They also have the intensity for the audience blinders and the versatility to be able to be incorporated within the show utilizing their pixel-mapping capabilities.”
One such incorporation was during the Dire Straits ballad Romeo and Juliet, in which individual LED’s on the Nexus panels were illuminated sporadically to give a star-like effect. “The Nexus panels really come into their own during Romeo and Juliet,” commented Henderson. “The lights become part of the scenery, and in doing so, the heart rendering effect of the song is accentuated.”
Despite the large quantity of Nexus panels used on the show, Henderson was impressed by their practicality and road worthiness. “The Nexus panels are small and lightweight enough to be hung over the truss and transported without any problems,” he said. “Compared to moving heads and bulky trussing, they’re really simple to mount and de-rig, while taking up barely any space during transportation.”
All in all, Henderson is confident that his experience as LD for the Mark Knopfler tour has been positive for everyone involved. “Everyone is very happy with the lighting design, in terms of practicality, look and atmosphere,” continued Henderson. “The Nexus panels manage to support Mark’s music with integrity, and we provided a good looking show that was stylish and adaptable.”