Pete Hutchison spices up Gerry Cinnamon’s summer tour with Ayrton
Scottish singer-songwriter, Gerry Cinnamon, concluded his 10-date summer tour of the UK and Ireland with two sell out dates at his hometown stadium, the 50,000-capacity Hampden Park National Stadium in Glasgow, in mid-July and simultaneously made history as the first independent act – and the first Scot – to sell out multiple nights at the venue.
Cinnamon is renowned for wanting to give his audiences ‘the night of their life’: his stage sets are on a massive scale, all encompassing, with high trim heights and extreme visibility of the performer from all areas of the stadium to ensure a fully engaging experience for the entire audience.
Production and lighting designer Pete Hutchison of Illumination Creative Design chose Ayrton Khamsin S, Bora S and the new laser-sourced Cobra to provide the big looks the show needed.
48 Khamsin S were rigged across four pairs of side trusses and on overhead finger trusses from where they were used as the main workhorses for stage lighting and for lighting out towards the audience.
“The main reason I chose Khamsin was for the power of their LED source which matches up perfectly with old discharge lamps,” Hutchison says. “The added bonus is, you don’t have the issue of trying to match up the different lamp temperatures. As soon as you throw up an open white look, every single fixture in the rig looks exactly the same.
“Khamsin also has punchy powerful gobos which are great for brilliant air effects, and produce a really nice tight spot which I use a lot. The colours you get out of them are excellent too – Ayrton has done a great job with the colour flags.
“They are supremely fast, especially considering the size of the fixture, and move really smoothly. I like to use a lot of fly-out effects which can be quite fast, but Khamsin always reaches its home position again before the next effect starts.
“They are fantastically reliable. I’ve toured with them three times now and I’ve never had a fixture go down.”
Hutchison positioned eight Bora S on the front truss where they were used for big washes over the audience. “I spec’d Bora because I love the fact you can colour match it so perfectly with Khamsin,” says Hutchison. “Its zoom range is so useful too: when, for example, I’m doing a lot of open gobo spotlets, I can introduce Bora as an extra group of spots because they can emulate the Khamsin so well, but then change them back to a wash light again straight after.”
Hutchison had originally specified Khamsin S and Bora S for Cinnamon’s arena tour in 2019 after seeing them on a visit to Ayrton HQ in Paris shortly after their release, but decided to add Cobra for the final stadium dates after a demo from Ambersphere Solutions’ Rob Beamer. “Cobra’s tight beam over such a huge distance was absolutely fantastic,” Hutchison says. “This was precisely what I wanted for the stadium shows because I needed a really punchy tight beam that could be effective wherever you are in the stadium, even at extremely long throw distances on the outer edges.”
Because of Cobra’s IP65 rating, Hutchison was able to rig 24 units in exposed positions across the wings at floor level, and on the downstage edge of each of the side trusses and overhead front truss to form a weatherproof frame of beams. These were mainly used for big beam looks and aerial effects across the stadium to draw the audience in. “I could use Cobra’s single beam or introduce the prism for a spottier effect, and had lots of colours to play with,” he says. “I was really impressed with the way the output was maintained once you introduced colours which far surpasses any other narrow beamed spot I’ve used before. At the end of 2019 Ayrton told me they didn’t know if it would be possible to get such powerful parallel beams, but by 2022 they had succeeded with Cobra. It’s amazing that, just 3 years later, they have come up with something that knocks other units out of the park.”
Hutchison is also impressed with Ayrton’s environmental credentials and credits the company as instrumental in his conversion to LED sources. “One of the things I admire most about Ayrton is that somebody had to step up to the plate to create a more environmentally responsible fixture and facilitate that move from discharge sources to LED of sufficient quality.
“Over the past few years, I’ve been a little dismissive of LED fixtures, particularly profile fixtures, and wary of going over to LED. But when I saw the Ayrton fixtures I just had to have them and immediately specified them for the tour.
“Ayrton has packed so many features inside their fixtures. Every time you go to the desk to program, you find something new in the fixture profile – like a new mode that you can experiment with for different effects – and there’s so many gobos inside them, you can always find something new. I think you would struggle to get bored of using them! Ayrton has really shown you don’t have to rely on discharge units anymore.”
Hutchison works closely with Liverpool-based Adlib which facilitates Gerry Cinnamon tours not just with equipment but with skilled personnel in operational roles. Hutchison’s key group of engineers, who have worked closely with him since the start of Cinnamon’s success, include Dave Smith as lighting console operator, Charlie Rushton as media server programmer and Rob Bickerstaff as media server operator who also cuts the cameras.
“Adlib is fantastic to work with,” confirms Hutchison. “I am just a designer on my own and I feel massively supported by the huge team that they have. I’ve kept a lot of the same staff on the different tours that I’ve done and always stayed with Adlib. They are a very responsive company which constantly invests in new equipment and keep it very well maintained, and they are brilliant people to work with.”
“It is our role to help Pete achieve his design in as clean and open a way as possible with no elements to distract from Gerry’s performance,” says Adlib’s Tom Edwards. “As a company we enjoy working with artists all the way through their career, and it’s great to see Pete go from strength to strength.
“We have a great relationship with Ambersphere and Ayrton and the fact we were able to take Pete out to Ayrton to see the Khamsin and Bora in development and get his feedback was invaluable.
“From a rental company point of view, Ayrton products have many applications for us in the wide range of work that we do. They are just as happy in an arena as on the wings of a festival stage, on Christmas trails, or on top of a building for a shopping centre launch. For us the advantages are in the massive range of application, ease of use and maintenance, reliability…and they are from a manufacturer that we trust and work with a lot. We have always had very positive experience with Ayrton products and, based on our experience with Khamsin, Bora and Diablo, we have no reason to think Cobra will be any different.”
The lighting for Gerry Cinnamon’s tour was controlled through four full size GrandMA desks running v2 software, also supplied by Ambersphere Solutions which is the exclusive UK distributor for both Ayrton and MA Lighting.
Text: Julie Harper
Photos: © Anthony Mooney