Kylie Minogue recently completed the first leg of her Kiss Me Once tour, using a very specific lighting design.
Lighting designer Rob Sinclair met with creative director William Baker and set designer Alan Macdonald, during which it was decided that ‘precise geometry’ and ‘Bauhaus aesthetics’ were to be the key themes for the set design, inspired by the lines of the set and the early costume ideas.
William created a very detailed and instructive style guideline for each section of the show.
Approximately a month before rehearsals, the music arrived and Rob began working on the lighting design. “I have my own, strange system of making notes on lyrics and marking structure and cue points,” he reflects.
Rob then sent his notes and instructions to lighting director Louisa Smurthwaite, who patched it up and set up the consoles.
At this point band rehearsals were underway, seeing Rob and Louisa spend two weeks in a small, badly ventilated room to pre-visualise the preliminary design in action and to make adjustments where necessary.
Back to the drawing board
Next came 10 days of production rehearsals, during which the duo learned that nothing from the pre-visualisation worked.
Consequently, the design had to be changed an additional two or three times to ensure all the details were correct as well as incorporate feedback from William and Kylie herself.
“Nothing from pre-visualisation ever works,” Rob admits. “It’s useful to have a start but the transfer from screen to reality is always jarring. William and Kylie had some great notes about colour and pace and we produced pages of our own. We both have a great eye for detail and had long discussions about the timings of single cues.”
The final design included 12 Martin MAC Auras and 120 MAC Viper AirFXs, which made up the majority of the rig.
According to Rob, the lighting design was precise and meticulously detailed.
Talking about MAC Viper AirFX fixtures, he says: “We chose them particularly for their brightness. We needed a hard-edged fixture that would be visible against a video wall and needed to be seen in the air more than on stage. I did a shoot-out in Vegas and the AirFX was the clear winner.”
Working with this large amount of fixtures was a great challenge for the duo as it pushed them to develop designs that were more than just ‘here come the spots or the washes’.
“Having the purity of one type of light source really captured our imaginations,” Louisa reflects. “It allowed us to create a clever and classy lighting design – it wasn’t obvious and I really like that.”
Highs and lows
“The best cue of my career is the point where Kylie jumps, the lights go out and the lasers come on at the start of On a night like this,” enthuses Rob. “It’s so simple, yet so powerful.”
Reflecting on the creative process, Robs adds: “Although it was long and at times painful. The drawing of plots and arguing about budgets took most of the summer. I’m not sure that either of us were making sense after so long without sleep but I’m very, very proud of what we achieved.”
“It’s the strangest process I have ever been a part of,” Louisa nods. “I can honestly say that it’s the least sleep I have ever had over 10 days. We changed a lot of things; we threw things away, put them back in again. In between making Space Invaders out of pixels and keeping up with meticulous dancer lighting, we made some enchanting moments, which is what we all want at the end of the day.”
While Kylie prepares for the Australian leg of the tour, Rob is touring with Queen and Adam Lambert, where he also decided to build an entire rig around the MAC Vipers.
Rob will be present for rehearsals for Kylie’s Australian tour and Louisa will be running the shows.