After a long open-air concert and festival summer, the “Best Band in the World” did what it does best: simply rock on. The club tour was called “Herbst des Lebens”, i.e. “Autumn of Life”, and took the band from Berlin right across Germany from the beginning of September to mid-October – totally sold out, of course. However, apart from the weather – which stays outside in any case during a club tour – nothing much felt autumnal.
The mood among the crew was apparently great; after all, the “Best Band in the World” unsurprisingly also has the best crew in the world. The stage design by lighting designer Bertil Mark, recipient of an LIT Design Award, had undergone change and been revitalised through the use of Portman S-Tribe LED lights. As the lighting designer accompanying the tour had made the change to a complete grandMA3 system after having used the grandMA2 for twelve years, the preparations for the “Autumn of Life” tour felt more like the “new shoots of spring” to him.
Bertil emphasized that when working in clubs “the room itself always plays a part”, which is why you can make quite an impact with a relatively small number of lights. One feature was kept as a successful centrepiece: the famous “A” with three dots on top in the band’s logo.
“For the club tour, we wanted to use more panel lighting in our work. Almost everything is LED-based, which means that I have plenty of single pixel options to play with. This allows movement to be generated from static lighting, eliminating the need for a lot of moving lights. Fundamentally, this design is a homage to the big old rock & roll shows, which were practically encased by PAR cans,” the designer added.
Challenge accepted: change to grandMA3 with grandMA3 software
This being the first time he used a grandMA3 system with grandMA3 software on tour, it represented a turning point for the successful designer: “I had been working on the grandMA2 for twelve years and developed my own MO workflow on that system. I had found my own reliable methods of operating this tool, ways of developing shows with it and making the necessary preparations. I no longer had to figure anything out and could have operated the console blind, if necessary,” he explained.
Things were different when he started up the grandMA3 software for the first time: “Suddenly, I had to think about everything, read up about it or, if in doubt, call someone and ask”, Bertil continued. “And, yes, at that moment I did have some doubts. I was bowled over by the new variety of features, the new displays and options. But this process was also very interesting and boosted my creativity. Challenge accepted.”
The new software then gradually revealed its potential. “The longer I engage with the grandMA3 software, the more brilliant special ideas I have. I can see great benefit for festival shows, where new types of lights have to be integrated into the show every day. A lot of things can be implemented very quickly with the new patching. One challenge that I look forward to particularly is learning to put the Recipe engine of the grandMA3 to creative use. Getting the best out of the Recipes will probably represent the great added value from the grandMA3 for me in the long term.”
By the time of the tour, Bertil had learnt to put the new system to good use: “I work on a single page and arrange the components in real-time. I have a large number of executors, which I can use to change colours and intensities on the fly. The new functions have inspired me and boosted my creativity. Everything has a purpose; there is a function hidden behind every dial. As the Ärzte shows are always full of spontaneity, I keep my eyes glued to the stage and I program the different aspects of the show live on the console, orchestrating the lighting.”
The lighting system of the Ärzte tour comprised a grandMA3 full-size, a grandMA3 compact XT, two grandMA3 processing units and seven grandMA3 Nodes. With just a few exceptions, the entire lighting control system was composed exclusively from grandMA3 components.
Anybody who has experienced an Ärzte show knows how much the band loves connecting with the audience. Quite often, requests from the audience spontaneously change the set list or there is interaction between the musicians and the audience that can last for minutes.
“The lighting must be arranged in such a way that the band can see the audience at all times,” said Bertil. “To allow the fans to become part of the stage show, I use Portman S-Tribe to build large LED panels on the stage, which make the audience appear very homogeneous.”
“In conjunction with the grandMA3 control system, I can realise large numbers of animations with the S-Tribe. We suspended the LED fixtures across the entire width of the stage and at varying levels, allowing me to realise large-scale running light effects. I also use them to provide main accent lighting for percussion breaks, to accentuate smaller musical flourishes or to underscore the typical humour of the Ärzte by going totally overboard on lighting effects and animations accompanying small solos.”
Find out more about:
grandMA3 compact XT
grandMA3 processing units