Production designer LeRoy Bennett and lighting visionary Peter Johansen may be regarded as something of industry veterans these days, but inspiration still courses through their veins.
Down the years they have respectively scooped the industry’s most prestigious design and product awards on both sides of the Atlantic for their creativity — and thus it was probably inevitable that their two paths should cross again recently at LDI in Las Vegas … brought together by SGM’s US head, Randy Wade.
When Bennett saw the new X-5 strobes at the SGM booth, he knew he had solved one major headache in designing the respective production sets for Beyoncé’s The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour and Rammstein’s Europe Tour. “I was impressed by the combination of power consumption, brightness and rugged design of the strobes,” he said.
However, they would perform entirely different functions: the first ensuring that Bey’s tour was the brightest ever to grace a concert stage, as the centerpiece of a good old fashioned light show, while the latter providing short stabs of intensity to complement the German band’s industrial sound.
Aside from offering more creativity and reliability than the conventional xenon format, which had traditionally provided the strobe ‘engine’, the radical new departure into RGB also offered huge economic advantages, both in trucking costs and power draw on European stages … a vital component in making Rammstein’s tour work financially.
Over the years the designer has routinely come to rely on lighting solutions in which Peter Johansen has been the guiding hand — dating back to the early ‘1990s, when the Dane was constantly raising the bar for the lighting industry.
Even then, during the early part of his career, LeRoy Bennett was drawing on new technologies to inspire his sets. SGM PR manager, Jerry Gilbert, recalls that as publisher of Live! Magazin he presented Bennett with a Best Set Designer award exactly two decades ago for his work on Prince’s Diamonds & Pearls tour when he was putting a lot of his work through Light & Sound Design in the UK.
Today, LeRoy Bennett continues to work with the world’s leading artists — not only Beyoncé and Rammstein, but an equal contrast between Nine Inch Nails and Rihanna. His CV down the years is a veritable who’s who of artists performing on the world stage.
He promises he will be scheduling further X-5’s on the new Nine Inch Nails tour, which he described as “visually more high-art minded,” as well as other upcoming tours.
On his website the designer describes keeping things fresh as “a very painful process”. He says, “ I don’t like to repeat myself … any time new technology comes out that helps to keep things fresh.”
And the SGM strobes clearly fall into that “new technology” bracket — and LeRoy is quick to acknowledge to SGM News that “once again Peter has created a very successful product!”