Midnight Oil: the early shows with Bazz Barrett

Posted on Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Back in April / May of 2017, Anthony ‘Bazz’ Barrett had the pleasured privilege of doing a handful of the Midnight Oils shows that kick-started off their world tour. Starting with some secret shows and a mighty return to Selina’s in Coogee Bay, a five-city tour of Brazil followed.

Steve Granville is the lighting designer for the world tour but fortunately for Bazz, he wasn’t able to do the beginning of the run so Bazz was asked to design and tour those early shows.

“It turned out to be a wonderful experience,” said Bazz. “Stepping back into Selina’s for the first time in 20 years, I had a strong almost physical reaction thinking back to the memorable and sometimes barely memorable shows I’d done there in the past: Lime Spiders, Rat Cat, Ramones, You Am I, Mud Honey, Buzzcocks, Nirvana, Falling Joys, Huxton Creepers. And now to be doing the legendary Oils …. It was all too good!”

At Selina’s, Bazz needed to keep the rig as simple and compact as possible because space was tight on stage. He went for a combination of his current favourite fixtures including 17 x Claypaky B-EYE K20, 16 x Martin MAC101, 12 x MAC Aura XB, 6 x Atomic LED and 28 x Sunstrips.

“I squeezed as many units onto a ground supported back truss as possible and used the balconies on the sides to do all the band wash,” explained Bazz. “I placed a B-EYE with a Sunstrip on any part of the floor not occupied with stage gear. The result was great. I had light sources coming from all points of the stage and the band were lit clearly and comfortably.”

Bazz’s Chamsys control system allowed him to program the songs likely to be in the set.  Luckily Pete had let him know what songs might be played. The Oils have a song pool of over 140 songs, any of which could be played on any given night, so some fast programming is required.

“I used the Sunstrips as the main lights for the earlier punk inspired Oils songs in the set and introduced more of the B-EYE effects for the later songs with more layered textures,” added Bazz. “I couldn’t have been happier with the end results. Chameleon Touring Systems provided the gear …. thanks Tony, Toby, Graham, Gazi, and Francesco for making it all possible.”

The following week it was off to Brazil to start the international part of the world tour. The Brazilian shows varied in size from around 3000 cap to 8000 cat venues, so part two of the design kicked in. Whereas Selina’s was quiet conventional in its design the extra space gave Bazz the chance to go for his preferred asymmetrical look.

“I hung trussing in reference to the Midnight Oil hand logo using five runs of truss at various angles, four emerging from the upstage right corner of the stage and spreading out over the stage and the front truss running high to low along the front edge of the stage,” he explained. “Each venue’s roof height helped to determine the angles and overall shape of the rig. Loaded on the trusses were again B-EYEs, MAC Auras, Atomic LEDs, RUSH MH2s (as no MAC101s available) and Ribalta LED bars (instead of Sunstrips). LPL Brazil supplied the lights with Bazz saying that they were a great bunch of guys and he needs to thanks Caio and Enrique from LPL.

“I needed to morph the MAC101’s into RUSH MH2’s and the Sunstrips into Ribalta LED bars which the Chamsys did seamlessly,” said bazz. “I took the Sunstrip dimmer channels and copied them in the patch to the Ribalta white LED channels. This meant that any time I ran a Sunstrip look from the show, it drove the white LEDs on the Ribalta and then I could add colour over the top of Sunstrip looks. I took the programming I did at Selina’s and expanded it into the new rig, refocusing to the new set up and  building each day more and more songs into the show file. By gig six of the tour there were over sixty songs programmed …. the Chamsys makes that easy to do.

“Thanks to all the Oils, John Watson management and Oils crew for having me on this most excellent trip!”