Exit Light, Enter Night: Metallica's Concert Lighting Keeps the Heavy Metal Light
I was thinking about my favorite lighting from some of the concerts I have been to over the last couple years, and one concert stands out in particular, Metallica’s concert from their Death Magnetic tour. Though my memory of this show (it was in the spring of 2009) is a tad hazy now, PLSN wrote a great article on their lighting and jogged my memory. The lighting scheme of Metallica’s show was simple. To the lighting designers nothing else mattered but the band’s performance and the audience’s enjoyment of it. The stage was the center of the action and the audience surrounded it so there was no backdrop. This presented two lighting problems: the audience had to be lit because the audience was the background of the show and the band had to be lit from above. Another complicating factor is that the members of Metallica like to move around a lot on stage. These circumstances required the lighting designers to use spotlights and truss mounted, automated followspots to keep track of the band members on stage.
The majority of the stage lighting was accomplished using an elaborate overhead truss system, fashioned to look like huge coffins, on which hung lasers, and a large number of moving head washes and other units. This lighting strategy was chosen to create a memorable, almost ghostly and fairly minimalist look, absent of hard edged light beams. There were also moving head washes set up on the drummer’s individual stage and on other parts of the stage for supplementary lighting.
Controlling the show was no easy task. As the PLSN article reported, Metallica typically chooses from a range of 30 songs that will play during a show, so the lighting designers had to program cues and scenes for all of these songs. This meant that by the time it was show time, their controllers had roughly 4,500 cues programmed, just so they were prepared for any song the band would play.
Though you may not have the resources or the heavy sound of Metallica, you can certainly put together a lighting system using followspots, spotlights, moving heads, and lasers to wow your crowd. Make BulbAmerica your one stop shop for lighting. As usual, leave a comment or question on our blog or Facebook or call us at 1-877-622-0897.
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