UK dance band Underworld delighted fans with a short UK and European tour to kick
off the live campaign supporting their much anticipated new album – “Barbara
Barbara We Face A Shining Future’.
Lighting was designed by Haydn Cruickshank from Colour Sound Experiment, with
the company also supplying all lighting equipment and the LED screen.
Cruickshank has worked with the band – whose music has stayed edgy despite their
commercial success – for an impressive 23 years … he was first hired after an early
tour with pioneering club and dance touring phenomenon, Megadog. Right from the
start Underworld embraced multi-media visuals, a trend that’s continued throughout
their live performance career.
Creatively, lighting the show has been an evolution over that timespan explains
Cruickshank, with some underlying elements remaining basically the same while
others have morphed and developed along with the sounds and moods of the music,
all delivered with that distinctive Underworld raw groove.
The video playback content is created by Simon Taylor from art collective Tomato
and the live camera elements are directed by Toby Vogel. As you might expect, the
video aesthetic is off-beat, so Cruickshank took this as a starting point when
lighting the tour.
He also has the video intensity control running through his ChamSys MQ300
console, allowing this aspect of both mediums to be more harmonious and when
video is running, the style of the lighting changes, all the time following the rhythm
of the music.
At the core of the lighting rig are 18 x Clay Paky Alpha Spot 1500 HPEs and 24
Chauvet Rogue R2 Washes positioned overhead and on the floor, complimented with
8 x Beam 200 beam lights and Chauvet Q-Wash 260s.
Added to these were Atomic strobes scattered around on the trusses and floor;
Sunstrips on the floor framing the side of the video screen and Moles on the first
and third trusses for accenting and blinding moments.
Cruickshank does not stick to a standard cue list when lighting an Underworld show,
although he has a selection of specific effects and looks that happen at certain
times, but stylistically his operation is a lot freer in approach. With the band
performing plenty of their new material, around half of this show is lit “live’ each
night. “It’s a process that certainly keeps me thinking on my feet for the whole set,’
A unique Underworld lighting effect is a “follow PAR’ in the pit – manually operated
by one of the truck drivers – and used for illuminating band member Karl when
singing. Cruickshank has colour mixing and intensity control at the console. Twenty-
three years ago, the colour was changed manually via a stack of gels – sometimes
a bit hit-and-miss – but RGB colour mixing LED technology makes this a lot more
reliable … it also strobes … to great effect!
Colour Sound has recently invested in large quantities of Litec QL52 black trussing,
some of which was used on this to facilitate the open looking design.