James Blunt Tour Goes Wholehog

James Blunt Control As James Blunt's popularity grows, so grows his tour production. When the tour kicked off last year in the UK, it carried a Wholehog 3 console to control 900 LED fixtures in smaller theater settings.

Now the tour’s been pumped up to 2,000 LED fixtures, and venue sizes are stretching to sheds and arenas, then festivals and stadiums this summer. So a Hog iPC backup was added to the gear list.

The show, designed by LD Paul Normandale and supplied by UK’s Lite Alternative, is able to accommodate the burgeoning production and venue capacities – and lighting director Glen Johnson explains how this fact affected his choice of consoles. 

Why did you choose the Wholehog 3?

[Johnson] The main reason for taking the console is the growing nature of the tour with our past leg being theatres, this leg being arenas and then festivals over the summer of 2006. We can just add lights to the whole show without needing to reprogram; we can change the fixture from one type to another without fuss.

We’re controlling 2,000 LED fixtures via PixelMAD from the Wholehog 3 console. We've gotten some stunning effects from the Hog 3 with its Effects Engine™, buddy system (advanced group manipulation of fixtures) and grouping, coupled with the timing syntax. We also programmed the show using the Hog 3's hue, saturation and intensity system, giving us more color options from the units and also matching the video content. The Wholehog 3 software is fantastic with no issues whatsoever. 

Describe how the Change Fixture Type feature has been helpful on this tour.

The ‘change fixture’ feature is a HUGE day-saving feature. We had a last-minute gig put in at the House of Blues Los Angeles and swapped our rig for a complete High End Systems rig [note: HES fixtures are installed in the entire HOB chain]. It was funny to turn up the night before -- with the venue lighting crew expecting me to work all night reprogramming the show -- only to be walking out two hours later with a completed show. We used the venue’s Cyberlights, Studio Colors and some extra Studio Commands and with a few button pushes of “Change Fixture Type” I had swapped our existing show to High End fixtures in minutes. This then gave me time to add some extra features to this one-off.

I even had more Studio Colors than our existing rig of wash lights, so a quick [push of] Replicate Fixtures and ‘Bob’s your Uncle!’ there and the show was updated. Hours saved…. And more sleep for me after an 11-hour flight!

You recently added a Hog iPC as backup. How is that working for you?

Fantastic, as you would expect from High End, it works out the box and does what it says. The Hog iPC performs perfect and I ran a show on it just to check it all out and I couldn’t tell the difference between it and the Wholehog 3 console. I must admit I’m a big fan since (using it on) the Finn Brothers last year. It works fast and does what you want. Very neat and compact set-up as well.

Any other Hog comments?

The (High End Systems) tech support I’m getting worldwide is truly second to none. Chris Ferrante, Brad Schiller and the rest of the team have a true passion to the Wholehog family of consoles, and no question too silly or for the tenth time seems to bother them in any way.

We are flying the whole FOH for this tour with us around the world, as we are so confident with the build quality and reliability of the system we have. The rig keeps growing and will continue to do so. And the Wholehog 3 just keeps getting better. I just wouldn’t have taken any other desk.

Blunt's 2006 winter tour plays the UK in February-March, hits the US March 13-April 6, followed by Australia/Japan. Blunt's Back to Bedlam CD has topped charts since October, with the hit single "You're Beautiful" recently topping US charts.