British band Mumford & Sons are currently touring with 159 VDO Sceptron 10s and 16 MAC Quantum Washes. Since getting together in 2007, the band has toured most of the world with very few breaks in-between. In 2010 lighting designer and friend of the band, Ed Warren, was approached and asked to design the lights for an upcoming tour and has since become Mumford & Sons’ regular Lighting and Production Designer.
New tour - new album - new design
For Mumford & Sons’ 2015 tour, following their third studio album ‘Wilder Mind’, Warren developed a captivating new design. The process began by Warren immersing himself in Mumford & Sons’ music until it resonated in his mind; he even had the music on while sleeping. He explained:
“Designing is a very fluid process for me. I don’t force it. When I’ve visualized my first thoughts and I feel like I’m in the right zone, the concept starts to take shape.”
In the initial stages, Warren presented his ideas to the band using mood boards. They liked it and when finalized, he submitted his design to UK rental company NEG Earth, along with a product specification list. After reviewing Warren’s list, Project Manager at NEG Earth, Caroline Beverley suggested using the new VDO Sceptrons from Martin Professional as an alternative to the fixtures specified. Beverley said they would be perfect for Warren’s design, and when Warren saw them he was easily persuaded:
“The VDO Sceptrons were perfect for what we wanted to do. As some of the concerts happen during daylight, I needed fixtures with a good color output and brightness. The Sceptrons do just that – even in sunshine.”
The VDO Sceptrons play a leading role in the design where they frame the stage and trusses. The fixtures are mounted onto the downstage edges and the two risers, and along the vertical lines of ten towers upstage. Side trusses and three U-shaped trusses above the band are also lined with VDO Sceptrons, adding a futuristic look to the show. Although capable of displaying video content, Warren uses the VDO Sceptrons in simple RGB mode on four channels. This design ended up suiting Mumford & Sons very well. The VDO Sceptrons and the MAC Quantum Washes are mixed in with older fixtures, comparable to the band’s traditional vibe from previous albums and their new, rockier synth-based material.
Using visuals to connect the audience to the performance
Every lighting designer has his/her own vision of what lighting can and should add to a performance. Warren’s philosophy is to create an experience for the audience and give them something different to what they’re used to seeing. He is also concerned with making people feel part of something. Rather than just being present at a concert and watching a band on stage, he wants to immerse the audience in the experience and make them feel at one with the band and the performance. Warren elaborated:
“The art of lighting design is to support and reflect what the band is trying to evoke with their music without distracting from it. You want to complement the music and stir the audience as much as possible, but you need to respect that people have come to see the band - not necessarily the light/strobe/laser show.”
The VDO Sceptrons support Warren’s approach to lighting design as they add both depth and dimensionality to the stage. This way, the stage jumps out spatially and is not just a flat object at one end of the venue. Also on tour with Warren and Mumford & Sons are 16 MAC Quantum Washes that Warren uses to backlight the band and the stage and light through the open risers. He said:
“They’re great lights! They do the trick, and just like the Sceptrons they perform very well and stand up against daylight with great colors.”
Mumford & Sons will be touring until the end of 2016. Warren will keep developing new ideas to create the best experiences for Mumford & Sons’ vast fan base.
VDO Sceptron 10, 159 pcs.
MAC Quantum Wash, 16 pcs.
Lighting Design: Ed Warren
Rental company: NEG Earth
Chief Electrician: Adam ‘Moonunit' Morris
Production Manager: Steve Gordon