In the development of Glam Rock in the 1970s, the showmanship of smoke bombs and strobe lights were almost as important to the show as the electric guitar.
This was the beginning of lighting effects. It started with artists such as Alice Cooper and KISS and is now more commonly seen by DJs.
The special effects lighting industry is now worth millions with artists such as Lady Gaga looking for the most extreme special effects money can buy.
Concert light effects started out with strobe lights which then evolved in to a laser display. In 1975, Led Zeppelin became one of the first bands to use an actual laser. It is still being used today with people like Marilyn Manson on his 2009 tour, performed a show in London where laser effects were the main theme. They were everywhere, from the bottom of the stage to shining from the tips of his fingers.
Jimmy Page Henderson, vice president of Syncrolite a Dallas lighting company, used to be a roadie before the light ‘evolution’. He said:
It’s totally changed from what it used to be, everything’s digital now. It’s so complicated now, you almost need to have degree to go out and become a roadie.
With the era of glam rock over, laser technology has primarily moved to the genre of dance. Though there are still other genres fully incorporating lights in to their show. In Beyoncé’s The Mrs Carter World Tour the background was a giant wall of lights made out of mirrors and moving fixtures Also, U2’s 360 tour from 209 to 2011 had LED light bulbs suspended in the middle of the stadium.
The dance group Daft Punk used lasers to make pyramids and other amazing shapes in their shows. Whereas the dance festival Creamfields is full of lasers. (Seriously, type ‘Creamfields’ in to google images – there’s tons).
Production Designer, Jake Berry, said:
Who would have thought running oil over a lens and making all those psychedelic effects on a screen in the 60s, that now we would just have computer graphics? We’ve come a hell of a long way.
With the summer festival season upon us, you’re sure to see at least a few light effects.
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