Patrick Woodroffe of Woodroffe Bassett Design is no stranger to working with the crème de la crème of the music industry at some of the biggest tours spanning the last 40 years.

To name a few: Stevie Wonder, Rod Stuart, ABBA, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, Tina Turner, Elton John, Queen, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Take That and Lady Gaga are all past clients of Patrick’s – with most relying on his and partner Adam Bassett’s expertise for their tours time and time again.

The success of this work has led to performances in some unusual places, from the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janiero where The Rolling Stones played to the largest audience ever assembled for a rock concert, to The White House in Washington where Paul McCartney played to President Obama, not forgetting Buckingham Palace where the Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee with a concert in the grounds of her house.

CIE caught up with Patrick on AC/DC’s current Rock or Bust world tour, which sees Malcolm Young replaced by his and Angus’s nephew Stevie Young and former drummer Chris Slade stand in for Phil Rudd.

Having sold more than 200 million records worldwide, including 71.5 million albums in the US alone, AC/DC are the 10th-best-selling band in America and are one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time.

“I have worked with the band as their lighting designer and show director for 20 years,” says Patrick, lighting designer and show director for the tour. “I have to say that it’s always an adventure, always a challenge, always fun and overall an enormous privilege to be still involved with this iconic group.”

For Rock or Bust, lighting director Cosmo Wilson specified two MA Lighting grandMA2 full-size consoles for control. “I wanted to create a big, large scale rock concert to fill the end of a stadium,” Patrick explains. “Therefore I selected a tough, strong, ballsy lighting for this tough, strong band!”

“I am using the grandMA2 because I have had such success using the grandMA series 1 for the past 10 years and I decided it was time for me to upgrade to the grandMA2,” Cosmo continues.

“The learning curve was easier because I have been using the grandMA series 1, but there are so many new things on the grandMA2 that make programming and operating my show much easier and quicker. Also, having more faders allows me to lay out my cueing in a way that works much better for me.

“It still amazes me how sophisticated the systems are and the control boards that we use to run them. When I began in this business in the 70s all we had were 1,000W PAR lights with different coloured GELS stuck in the front of them!”

“I am a very hands-on ‘busking type’ of LD, I generally run the show old style, like we did on the classic Avo and Celco consoles, and the layout of the desk allows me to have my cue stack, but also have certain bumps on faders that I can grab and put in the programmer and actually write cues throughout the actual live show,” he explains.

“The fact that I can do a lot of things ‘on-the-fly’ really helps. It allows me to write cues in the heat of the moment and then come back the next day and clean them up. I am also very happy with both the speed and the stability of the console and look forward to each show day.”

“The lighting systems we use are very sophisticated now – every light can move automatically and change colour and focus,” Patrick nods.

“Technology is growing all the time with lights getting smaller, brighter, lighter and more reliable so we tend to use whatever is new and interesting. Having said that, there are really just half a dozen manufactures in the market that we work with. One of these is Philips who make the Vari-Lite range.”

So how does one begin to design the lighting for such a high profile and large tour?

Patrick reveals that each tour design takes into account the individual artist or band’s image, themes and requirements, taking it from there.

“As with any show you start with the narrative: Who are the band? What are they about? What are they trying to say?” says Patrick. “And from that there grows a stage design, and from that a lighting design.”

Not that the tour has been without its challenges: “There are 100 moving parts in these large format rock concerts after all, so it’s all complicated and all a challenge,” he admits.

“But the companies, suppliers and technical crews involved are well experienced in this sort of thing so all challenges are always overcome!”

Patrick only relies on the very best in terms of equipment for any job he is involved in, large or small.

“To be honest all the equipment that we use is great!” he exclaims. “It still amazes me how sophisticated the systems are and the control boards that we use to run them. When I began in this business in the 70s all we had were 1,000W PAR lights with different coloured GELS stuck in the front of them!”

On top of being an experienced professional, what helps is when someone truly enjoys and has a passion for their work, as Patrick does: “All AC/DC shows are different, both in terms of their design and of course in the performance of the group. I do believe that they are the most exciting, visceral, engaging and honest band that I work with,” he smiles.

*Terry Cook of Woodroffe Bassett Design LLP is the project director for AC/DC’s Rock or Bust world tour, Dave Hill and Pryderi Baskerville work as programmers and Upstaging and Neg Earth deliver the lighting equipment.

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