Ayrton Karif shines through for Genesis The Last Domino? tour
These have been exciting yet turbulent years for the touring circuit as many bands take to the road again only to meet with speed bumps in the form of the pandemic, which guarantees only that nothing will run entirely as planned. However, with a history as long as that of English rock band, Genesis, the show always goes on, and The Last Domino? tour overcame postponed, cancelled and rescheduled dates to resume again last September. The tour marks the first reunion of the band since 2007, and has in its lighting inventory 64 Ayrton Karif LT ultra compact 300W LED beam-spot fixtures.
The lighting and production design was co-created by Patrick Woodroffe – also show director – and Roland Greil of Woodroffe Bassett Design, and Jeremy Lloyd from Wonderworks who is responsible for the technical integration. Lighting programmer was Marc Brunkhardt.
When first approaching the design in 2020, Woodroffe and Greil had a number factors to consider for what potentially could be Genesis’s last tour. “The band has a rich history of pushing the limits when it comes to lighting and show design, from being early adopters of oil wheels in the ‘70s, to being the first band to tour with moving lights in the ‘80s and the first to use big LED screens in the ‘90s,” explains Greil. “It’s not so easy to push boundaries now, but we needed to come up with something that maintains their reputation for being at the forefront of show design.”
A further influence was the fact that lead singer Phil Collins, traditionally the dynamic force around the stage, must now perform seated. “It’s impressive how one man sitting down can still bring such energy and presence to the stage and entrance the audience in just a heartbeat,” says Greil, “but he is magnetic, not dynamic, so we needed to fill some of that energy gap with lighting, video and set.”
The team decided to take a theatrical approach, giving every song its own visual identity with a unique look and feel, and simultaneously paying tribute to the band’s unique looks and innovations over the years. This seemed particularly appropriate alongside the mix of original and new band members. “We needed to find a way of creating a bridge between the historic looks in a way that brought the whole show visually into the 21st century.
“With these basic elements in mind,” Greil says, “we wanted a stage that was very versatile where we could change the whole look, feel and the visual identity for each song, be very intimate or very big, or modern or old school, and then with those adaptable tools we could tell the visual story of the show and create the perfect picture frame for each song and their performance on stage.”
Karif LT’s role in this was to help build a versatile, dynamic backdrop in conjunction with an array of 12 rotating LED panels of varying heights. “The panels had high resolution LED screens on the front which could be quite overwhelming,” explains Greil. “We wanted to be able to transform the stage away from this screen to other worlds as well, so we set the panels on tracking systems so they could split apart and turn, and rigged the Karif LT fixtures in vertical columns on the reverse of each LED panel with 4-6 lights per panel.
“The fixture is so compact that, for the majority of the show, we were able to keep the lightsources themselves concealed but utilise the output in the most interesting ways. We could tilt the panels and shoot beams through the gaps, outline the background, build different looks and keep the Karifs hidden yet visible through the transparent video screen. Then for the last song of the main set, Invisible Touch, we turned the back wall all to lights with the Karifs fully revealed and set them spinning – it’s a mind blowing effect. Part of the theatricality of the show is to be able to keep as much in your pocket for as long as you can. Karif certainly gave us a whole raft of extra options for this.”
“We also discovered Karif LT had a continuous pan/rotation which I wasn’t aware of as it is not something I would normally use, but we rigged them at a 90° angle and discovered a whole new level of functionality. It gave us that great big array of spinning lights on the back walls for Domino which was perfect for this specific show and a great addition to the looks.
“It just goes to show you can’t always plan everything – sometimes you’ve got to be lucky as well. With the right tools, you can shake the tree and something new will fall out of it!”
The Karif LT was introduced to Greil and Woodroffe by Ayrton’s exclusive UK distributor, Ambersphere Solutions, and supplied by the tour’s lighting supplier, Neg Earth.
Originally intended as a 47-date tour commencing in the Autumn of 2020, the WBD team created The Last Domino? show only to mothball it for nearly a year due to the constraints of the pandemic. The tour resumed in September 2021 in the UK – the only country in Europe fully open at that time – before travelling to the US mid-West and East Coast. The four-times rescheduled London dates finally took place on 24-26 March at The O2.
Photos: © Manfred H. Vogel