American rockers Alice In Chains crossed the Atlantic in May to begin a six-week tour of the UK and Europe, enlisting Entec’s support as their lighting provider. In the experienced hands of production manager Paul Binder and tour manager Gage Freeman, the current six-week itinerary sees the band follow their latest and most successful album to date, the Grammy-nominated Rainier Fog, with an astonishing show that has been spanning arenas, festivals and theatres.
Now 32 years into their career, the Seattle four-piece – Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Inez and William DuVall – toured Europe last year with Entec supplying fixtures, control, rigging, motors and crew, and this was a formula that Paul Binder was keen to preserve, having originally encountered the west London rental company on Josh Groban’s Stages tour in 2015.
Said Paul: “Entec has a collaborative relationship with our US vendor, Premier Global Production [PGP], based out of Madison, Tennessee, and I deal directly with [Entec MD/head of lighting] Noreen O’Riordan who is one of our industry’s best – she never fails to come through for me. I once asked her to supply some chandeliers for Josh Groban and she found the perfect type by getting in touch with a wedding specialist. That’s just one example of how she and the company go above and beyond what’s expected.”
The entourage arrived in mid-May to finesse the specifications of two distinct lighting packages: a floor lighting combination travelling in two trucks to fulfil the general run of European shows and an expanded four-truck package that covered three major arena dates at Braehead Arena in Glasgow, Arena Birmingham and Wembley’s SSE Arena.
Paul commented: “Our stage manager Albert Bermudez, our lighting guys and I went to Entec to prep the floor package, then the lighting boys stayed to work on the arena rig while Albert and I went to Dublin where the band rehearsed for a few days at Camelot Studios before their first date on May 20th [at the Olympia Theatre]. To prepare for the arena run of shows we loaded into Glasgow a day early so we had enough time to program the larger rig, and we’ve had nothing but amazing comments from everyone.”
Alice In Chains’ PM since 2016, Paul, who heads west coast production firm California Music Express, Inc., explained that the intention of the show design – by Scott Holthaus – was to allow audiences to focus on the band with little distraction. “This is a band that could have six PAR cans on stage and still rock, and that was partly the inspiration behind Scott not wanting to get too fancy and eliminate all front lighting,” he said.
Despite the minimalist aspirations, however, the show makes a feature of four 6ft x 8ft custom floor pods that contain a total of 192 PAR 64 lamps running on Avolites ART 48-way dimmers, and 24 discreet Ayrton MagicBlade-FXs. And there’s a twist: the reverse sides of the pods are fitted with LED screens and, at various points in the show, the pods spin around to reveal video content, with the MagicBlades firing beams of light between them.