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Shining a Light on Rolling Stones’ Zip Code Tour

Lighting designer and director for the latest Rolling Stones’ tour talk design, gear and venue for an artist and tour of this size.>

Alice Gustafson
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Having worked with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson (just to name a few) Patrick Woodroffe of Woodroffe Bassett Design is no stranger to working with the crème de la crème of the music industry.

So when long-time client—none other than The Rolling Stones—announced their epic Zip Code Tour, visiting 15 cities in North America this summer, Woodroffe and the band’s lighting team set to work on designing them a lighting rig as unforgettable as the band themselves.

The band’s rig is bursting with Clay Paky Mythos and Sharpy Washes and Robert Juliat Lancelot followspots, not forgetting MA Lighting grandMA2 lighting consoles and ChainMaster chain motors—all distributed exclusively in North America by A.C.T Lighting, Inc.

“The band is playing as well as I’ve ever seen them,” says Ethan Weber, who was crew chief for the Stones in 1994-95 and became their lighting director in 1998, a post he still holds today. “The majority of shows on the tour are in stadiums, though they have mixed in a couple of festivals and a theatre show in Los Angeles, where the band played the entire ‘Sticky Fingers’ album.

“The venues have been more consistent on this leg than on most in the past couple of years,” Weber notes. “Not as many clones or fixture changes have been needed on the grandMA2.”

Check out the lighting, and of course the sound, of the Rolling Stones’ latest tour.

Woodroffe is the lighting designer/creative director for the tour, while Terry Cook acts as associate lighting designer and Miriam Bull studio associate.

“I have worked for the band for 30 years, beginning quite early in my career,” Woodroffe reflects. “The choice of lighting equipment for this tour is based on many technical and practical considerations; the Clay Paky Mythos, Sharpy Washes, Robert Juliat Lancelot followspots and grandMA2 lighting consoles being the equipment that we chose for this particular production.”

Upstaging, Inc headquartered in Illinois, is supplying the theatrical lighting and equipment trucking for the tour, as it has for the band’s last several tours.

New this year are 44 Clay Paky Mythos fixtures, 32 of them mounted on trusses over the stage and six on each of the two wings.

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“Mythos are very versatile – possible to use as an effect or wash light, and bright enough to compete with the three video walls and other wash lights in the system,” says Weber. “I had heard about Mythos from a trusted friend and looked forward to trying them out. Upstaging doesn’t carry our old effects light, but did have Mythos in stock; so Woodroffe and Cook opted to make the change. I’ve been very happy with them so far.”

“The lighting and set design is predicated at the very beginning by a set of practical considerations,” Woodroffe tells CI in-between jobs.

“How big are the venues? How long is the tour and therefore how many shows do we spread the set costs over? How many different contingents are the band performing in? Once these questions are answered we have a much better idea of we can produce. Then it’s simply a matter of a great idea and sticking to it!”

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