The west London rental house provides lighting in Hammersmith for Astbury and co.

One of the greatest British hard rock bands to emerge from the ’80s, The Cult embarked on a successful 10-date tour of the UK in October, featuring a complete performance of their 1989 album Sonic Temple along with other favourites from their back catalogue, including the seminal ‘She Sells Sanctuary’.

When the band reached London’s Hammersmith Apollo on October 27th, Entec was brought in by promoter Kilimanjaro Live to supply lighting and crew, and work with LD Matt Guminski. “It was a really enjoyable tour of a straightforward, classic rock’n’roll show packed with some incredible moments,” said Matt, “and when Entec came onboard at Hammersmith, it took us to another level. I was delighted to be working with the company again only a few months after completing the Alice In Chains tour with them.”

Fronted by Ian Astbury and featuring the renowned guitar talents of Billy Duffy, The Cult are once again the talk of the rock community, and Matt ensured that his visual feast was the perfect complement to the onstage musical electricity. With only a fortnight’s notice before the tour began, Matt was hired and briefed that the lighting rigs would either be resident at venues such as the O2 Academy in Birmingham and Leeds, or rented in from local suppliers using a basic package design that he put together.

Matt explained: “There was no pre-production and because the rigs varied from venue to venue, I was busking the lights each time, feeling my way through the dynamics of the music. That’s a different way of working for me and it took me back to my early days as a house lighting operator. Being a bass player myself, I could key into what the rhythm section was doing and ‘play’ the lights like I was another member of the band. By the third show, I was finding looks that I could repeat on subsequent nights and that spirit of discovery was very exciting.”

While Billy Duffy is keen on brightness during his guitar solos, Ian Astbury prefers a more moody vibe that dominates the lion’s share of the show. “Ian is all about strobes and high contrast back-lighting, but he’s not a fan of front light,” said Matt, the New York-based founder of MG Lighting Design. “He obviously needs to play with that a little because the audience have paid to see him and the band, so I often tapped my front lights at 30% or 40%, just to achieve enough facial recognition. They also don’t like follow spots so I compensated with Lekos [ETC Source Four profiles] at the front.

“From a designer’s perspective, it’s often more interesting when the emphasis is on highlighting the general aesthetic of the music rather than focusing on illuminating the performers’ faces, and having the chance to do it live is a lot of fun. At first, Ian was very dismissive of the use of certain colours like yellows and blues but I managed to sneak a few in without any negative feedback. I operated under the assumption that no news is good news and they came off stage every night looking happy.”

SPEED & EFFICIENCY

The Cult’s Apollo show immediately followed another Entec-supplied event headlined by comedian John Robins. Matt said: “Entec turned the rig around in good time for The Cult. Will Mashiter, who worked with me on Alice In Chains, was one of my techs in London along with Andrew Banks and Leo Tierney, and they are all top notch crew. They had the entire rig up by around 9.30am which was great news for me. Admittedly, it wasn’t a terribly complicated rig but their speed and efficiency was something I really appreciated. I was able to spend a good portion of my day updating palettes and create new looks at the console instead of waiting around for everything to be ready.”

The Apollo’s downstage truss accommodated eight Martin MAC Aura XBs for front wash, 10 ETC Source Fours and four Thomas 4-lite Molefay blinders. Meanwhile, the upstage truss was rigged with six MAC Viper profiles, eight Aura XBs, an additional four Molefay units and four Solaris Flare Q+ 36° LED fixtures for strobing and colour toning effects. Positioned on top of flight cases on the floor were six Vipers, in between which were four Thomas Super Truss booms that were introduced for London to each carry two Auras either side of a Mole. Another four Solaris Flares were on the floor – two behind the drum riser and one at each side of the stage – to provide tonality and extra strobing. The visuals were rounded off with a giant touring backdrop that celebrated the 30-year legacy of the Sonic Temple album.

Hog devotee Matt ran the lights from a Hog 4 console that accompanied him throughout the tour, while Entec supplied an Avolites Tiger Touch 2 as a tech desk. The LD continued: “Not having the same rig every day meant that when I was doing these advances I was able to build each floor package around what Ian wanted, and by the time we arrived in London it had evolved considerably with Entec’s input.”

The Cult’s A Sonic Temple UK 2019 tour was managed by Chuck Randall with Steve McGuire handling the production. Matt added: “Entec’s team work hard for designers like myself and, because of my previous experience with Alice In Chains, I know that this is a constant standard for them. Their family-friendly brand of support is something for which I am very grateful. It reaffirms why I would repeatedly choose Entec as my preferred vendor whenever I tour the UK and Europe.”

BUSY SEASON

The Cult and Matt Guminski will be rounding off 2019 with eight December dates in the north-east of the US. Their show at Hammersmith Apollo was one of several at the venue during the early autumn that benefitted from Entec’s expertise. As well as the aforementioned event starring comedian John Robins, the company was at the Apollo to provide sound and lights for a show by American astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson. The lighting rig remained for stand-up star Tom Segura’s date 24 hours later.

These projects followed other Hammersmith shows by TV personality Jonathan Van Nesse and spoken word performer Kate Tempest for which Entec supplied lighting, while the company worked with AEG/Goldenvoice to deliver additional truss, rigging and a ground rigger for singer/songwriter/violinist Lindsey Sterling’s Artemis touring production.

Entec’s autumn diary has also included Julio Iglesias’ one-off concert at the Royal Albert Hall, the 10th Elbrook Charity Gala Dinner and Van Morrison’s latest tour.

thecult.us

kilimanjarolive.co.uk

mglightingdesign.com

Photography courtesy of Matt Guminski