ATLANTA – The creative force that drives The Isley Brothers never rests. It’s why these Rock and Roll Hall of Famers can still shake the house after six decades of touring. It’s also why they’ve never flinched at abandoning comfortable familiarity in favor of new forms of musical expression; the way they did in the mid-1960s when they took on a young and then unknown sideman named Jimi Hendrix and blended his heavy guitar riffs with their own extended R&B inspired vamps to kick off an original funk sound that would influence the direction of rock music.
The Isley Brothers’ penchant for new ideas remains as strong today as it was back then – and not just with music, but with lighting too. This was very much in evidence recently when the multi-Grammy winners’ design team changed its plans to use some familiar lights after it heard Brad McWhorter of Atlanta Audio Visual talk about how they could create a more powerful show with a collection of Legend fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.
“They were going to use some well-known halogen ellipsoidals over the stage along with a an expensive moving wash, but we convinced them they would get a more dynamic show by moving Legend 230SR Beams across the stage and using the Legend 412 as a wash,” said McWhorter. “Our plan must have made sense, because they listened and in the end everyone was thrilled with the final result.”
McWhorter positioned 20 of the Legend 230SR moving beams over the stage on trussing to “create a special look over Ronald Isley and the band.” Featuring a 230-watt Osram Sirius lamp and an intense 96,000 lux at 15 meters output, the Legend fixture created a level of movement and energy in the lightshow that would have been difficult to duplicate with the ellipsoidal fixtures.
“The fast movement and dynamic color transitions during the set made this the perfect light for The Isley Brothers music,” said McWhorter. “It makes the kind of statement you want to make in the touring industry. In addition to giving us good looks on stage, the Legend 230SR Beam worked well as an audience light. We ran them across the whole venue (Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia) to engage the crowd.”
McWhorter also used 24 Legend 412 moving wash fixtures in The Isley Brothers rig, which he controlled using a grandMA2- Full (1) grandMA NPU. The richly saturated colors from the RGBW wash created an elegant effect on stage. “We had soft lavender and the natural white contrasting with blue on stage,” said the Atlanta Audio Visual CEO. “It created a nice blend of style and sophistication with intensity.”
Although asking an iconic act like The Isley Brothers to depart from its original lighting rig plan may seem somewhat daring, McWhorter was confident that the Legend fixtures were up to the task. ““We use these lights in corporate and touring and no matter the application, we can count on their dependability,” he said, noting that the Legend Series “sets a standard that stands the test of time” – just like The Isley Brothers.”
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