A Wholehog in the (Crowded) House

The harmonies of Crowded House have reunited in song on a worldwide tour. In control of the show are two Wholehog 3 consoles.

LD/Set Designer Paul Normandale and lighting director Glen Johnson have carried Wholehog 3 consoles on a number of tours the past few years. 

Says Johnson, "Its Only Natural (referencing a favorite Crowded House song title) that I would choose the Wholehog 3 console again for this tour after my faultless year with it on James Blunt."

Lite Alternative provided the two Wholehog 3 consoles, along with two Playback Wings, a full-size Expansion Wing and 2 DP 2000s. Upstaging is the lighting contractor on the US tour.

"Crowded House have a catalog of 100-plus songs with over 70 programmed in the console," Johnson explains. "While I am given a set list every night of 20 songs, it is very rare for them to keep to the set, and even if a member of the audience asks for a song the guys can play it immediately. They even change their positions of instruments on each song depending on how they feel."

He continues, "The Wholehog 3 allows me to keep to Paul's lighting design and set layouts even though all the band are changing things every second of the show. This allows them to be completely free to do as they wish and keep with the tradition of 'you never know what is going to happen' on a Crowded House show. I use the Position Palettes a lot, with each song stored here also (as well as having its on Master Cue List) so I can overlay into the programmer the effect, color and position live, quickly and simply, depending on where they are in the set changes."

"The first three songs are performed to a mid-stage black silk, but I can still use Paul's concept for the lights, by running most things in the programmer and running with Fade Changes. The timing in the Position Palettes is a godsend."

"We also have a 40-foot wide Serpent which drops in for six songs, a 18-foot long Caravan appearing during the encore, a pop up Tree, custom made half-mirror balls with band names, and finally three 18-foot Skyscrapers which appear from the floor. All of this happens around a set where you never know what is next, which makes this one of the most enjoyable tours I have been on."

Johnson says he uses the Gel Picker completely though programming allowing Paul to pick his color from gel numbers. "Having all the gels laid out for you with more than 70 songs makes for a different look for each of the songs," he notes.

"The console's reliability makes me feel completely at home with programming and running stacks all night on the fly. I have had a Wholehog 3 now for over 3 years, and the changes under the bonnet are truly amazing and continue to push the console far past any other I have used. That is the sole reason I specify them all the time."

Johnson will start James Blunt's 2008 tour in January. With Wholehog 3s again. It's only natural.