Lighting design for the tour is by Sooner Routhier and Robert Long of US-based SRae Productions. Associate lighting designer Brian Jenkins programmed the show for SRae, while lighting director Manny Conde is responsible for the lighting on the tour.
The lighting designers worked closely with Depeche Mode's long-time artistic collaborator and production designer, Anton Corbijn, whose design for the band's latest album 'Spirit' underpins the show's creative concept. The album design features heavily brush-stroked painted figures holding flags, and this motif is emphasized in the production design by a rectangular video wall upstage, while a runway extending out into the audience from stage right forms the 'flag pole'.
While Corbijn left the fixture selection to Routhier and Long, he did make some key requests in the design brief, as Routhier explains: "Anton stated that he wanted an 'industrial' look and that extended to the fixtures in the rig. Robert and I were looking for fixtures that could fit our scenic element, since we were working with a static, rectangular LED video wall upstage."
This quest led the lighting designers to consider a new light that they had heard about - the Philips Vari-Lite VL6000 Beam. "Neither Robert nor I had seen them before," says Routhier. "We were solely going on recommendations! The mirror face and reflector look of the VL6000s really fit the bill - they resemble large searchlights, but the main thing is that they also give us all the modern amenities of newer moving light fixtures."
Routhier was impressed not only by the styling of the Philips VL6000 Beams, but also by their flexible performance characteristics. She says: "I love, love, love the reflector face! I also love the beam that they produce. The sheer size of the fixture is also a plus - they are a massive presence in the design, our main workhorse in the rig. We use them for just about every purpose; they are effect lighting and visibility lighting. They are part of our scenic because of the reflector face . . . They fit perfectly with the vision."
The VL6000 Beams feature in one of Routhier's show highlights, as she explains: "At the top of 'Everything Counts', Brian has programmed this incredible look with the VL6000s out to the sides of the stage strobing in sync and tilting across the stage. They look like electro-blue fingers reaching out across and through the band during an incredibly electronic intro. It's definitely one of my favorite lighting cues in the show."
Asked if the fixtures delivered to her expectations, Sooner says: "Absolutely, 100 percent. They were even better in real life." HSL's project manager Jordan Hanson said, "The VL6000s are incredible! The huge lens and really tight beam look rocking and are throwing all the way to the back, even in the stadiums. It's been great working with Sooner and her team through the whole process. It's really nice to see a team which works so well together."