Quick Lock Status, no ordinary case
“We started this year at the beginning of April, since then I think I’ve been home maybe five consecutive days.” Pat Marks, designer in residence for Status Quo, arguably Britain’s hardest working band. “That’s a hundred and twenty-five shows on three continents. But for the last four or five years I’ve been living with a problem that compromises my show in a really irritating way; then last week at the LG Arena in Birmingham Chris Cronin from Total Fabrications Ltd (TFL) turned up and said, “you need one of these.”
The product was the RSC Lightlock, commercially available through TFL for eighteen months now, the fact that Marks had never seen one before validates just how busy the touring life of Quo is these days. The fact that it solved Marks dilemma is however another aspect altogether, for this wasn’t just the case of stabilising a single moving head, as Marks explained.
“I’ve had a design template we’ve been using for the last four or five years on and off. We have five frames hanging vertically across the back of stage, each one with four moving lights in it. The frames hang from a horizontal eight foot truss section on chains at various drops between five and eight feet. The look is good and the versatility of the hanging system works well as we shift from touring Europe to the Far East, Australia and South America, where the venues types vary immensely. The only problem is torque; make some extreme Pans with the lamps – I generally like to use Clay Paky Alpha Beams or Robe Robins – and the frames begin to oscillate. It’s an effect than can take some time to return to equilibrium.”
Despite Cronin’s confidence, Marks was not unnaturally sceptical, “I hadn’t just been looking at this for five years pulling my hair out, we had tried all sorts of ways to dampen the effect, varying cues, moving lamps in opposition, nothing worked; so when Chris said ‘just bolt one of these to the top of the eight foot truss’ I didn’t get too excited. However the effect was immediate, a few trial light cues and the frames were stopped dead, absolutely stock still. The guys on my crew from Amber Lighting in Glasgow were as incredulous as me, we wanted to open up the box and peek inside.”
Cronin dissuaded them, “it’s a mass of springs and fly-wheel in there,” he said. As an alternative Marks decided to test the device to extremes. “We took two adjacent frames, one with Lightlock, one without, and turned both through 360°, like we all used to do with playground swings when we were kids. Then we let them go. They both began to unwind quite violently, as you’d expect, but the one with the Lightlock stabilised after just 25 seconds, the other was still oscillating five minutes later. Nobody is ever going to subject the device to such forces for a show, but the fact it could affect such a large mass so quickly was really impressive.”
Marks has already been in touch with Amber Lights and requested they purchase a set for his next tour with Quo in the new year; having rescued a grateful Marks from the debris of a rapid departure from the UK by Bandit Lites, it appears the relationship betwixt Marks and Amber, now with added TFL, is consolidating to a stable state.