My time with the Simple Minds
In 1985 they had a top ten single and album with 'Alive & Kicking'. In America they previously had a Number 1 with 'Don't You Forget About Me'.
"I was living in Paris when Bruce Findlay, the bands' manager phoned me and asked me to a meeting to discuss designing the set and lights for the up and coming world tour. I had been going through a sticky patch after the Telephone tours and I was delighted when Bruce phoned".
Alan was flown from Paris to Edinburgh for the meeting and shortly returned to France to work on the design. At this point, nothing was confirmed and it would be up to Alan to come up with ideas for a show.
"I had been doing a lot of model making in my studio in Paris so I was pretty much set up. It took a few weeks, listening to the music, sketching things up and playing with shapes. Initially I was going nowhere with the design then one day it all fell into place".
"I was new to Light and Sound Design and felt a bit distanced from them. I got a lukewarm reaction to the design but didn't let it put me off."
With the quotes for the set and lights in the hands of the management, it was now up to Alan to show the band his design.
They were in New York.
With a finished model and drawings, Alan returned to Edinburgh to show the bands' manager Bruce. Bruce wasn't quite sure. Alan then had to visit Light & Sound Design in Birmingham to get quotes on the set ideas.
"I had a room booked at The Mayflower Hotel overlooking Central Park. I set up the model, blacked out the room and switched on some 'Birdies'.
The band came into the room and were totally knocked out. A perfect reaction. Job Done! Well the first part really. I loved Simple Minds, their music was brilliant. To do lights to this music I knew I would enjoy as I'd been a fan since the early days of Chelsea Girl".
The design incorporated four 20ft x 8ft white Venetian blinds and three black projection screens all on individual electric motor control. these were susspended from the lighting rig.
Onstage were a number of reflective ribbed platforms with band equipment stored inside. Behind the stage set were two painted cyc cloths with 3 dimensional back lit triangles in front of them.
Vari*Lites were used to light the band and set, also to project images onto the cycs, blinds and screens. These images included trees and shapes and Scottish Saltire flags. Other images such as flying doves and church windows were provided by Lekos.
"Lekos with their front lens removed and colour changers attached were used to project a kaleidoscope effect in moving colour. Movement of the blinds shutters created an incredible effect when all the leko projection was going on. The little MR16 lamps, some 600 or so were really having an impact and were simply stunning at times".
"I loved operating the lights for Simple Minds but unfortunately whilst on tour in America my family were involved in a serious house fire.
They luckily escaped with their lives through ground floor windows in the early hours of the morning.
On my return to London and seeing the extent of the fire damage, I realised that I would not be able to continue the next leg of the European tour. I met with Bruce and discussed the situation and options available but I had really no choice but to remain in London and rebuild my home and family life. I made preparations for my replacement to operate the show but in the end, the band called in their former LD to continue the seven remaining shows to be played out in stadiums of Europe over a two month period".
The Simple Minds stage was constructed by Light & Sound Design who also supplied all the conventional lighting. They also custom built the low voltage MR16 lighting troughs which were yet again a huge success.
Vari*Lites supplied the moving lights and were effectively operated by Marco van Beek.
SET CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS
The following pictures were taken during construction of the stage set at Light & Sound Design's warehouse in Birmingham.
Rubber strips being applied to the tops of the risers.
Rear view of risers and tops of keyboard and drum risers.