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Bandit Lites Illuminates Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill 25th Anniversary Tour

Jagged Little Pill 25th Anniversary Tour

When Alanis Morissette released her third studio album, Jagged Little Pill, it not only resonated with an entire generation, its impact and legacy continued to swell for 25 years, inspiring other artists and launching a Tony-award winning musical. And while the COVID-19 pandemic might have paused Morissette's celebratory tour initially, the icon has returned to the road with a lighting system designed by Nate Cromwell and supplied by Bandit Lites to give audiences all they really want.

As the Grammy-award winning Album of the Year still remains one of the best-selling albums of all time, no production detail is too small, with easter eggs peppered throughout the show, down to wardrobe, video and lighting (look for lighting colors syncing to the color of Morissette's wardrobe in the music video for Ironic).

"Bandit Lites has had the pleasure of working with Mr. Nate Cromwell for many years, and I must say I feel he has outdone himself with this design and execution," says Bandit Lites vice president Mike Golden. "The design he presented was not only ambitious, but extremely well thought through. He has a fascinating vision and is meticulous in achieving each and every look he offers."

When designing the lighting system, Cromwell drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including previous tours, her musical, as well as iconic art, artists, and even mathematical phenomena.

"The overall architecture is based on the golden spiral and how curves fit within paintings like Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Last Supper'," says Cromwell. "There is an overall ratio I designed to the overall layout of the curves themselves."

Each level of truss represents different sacred spaces, with the top curves facing outward representing creation: great wheels that churn life into existence. Backlight for the band originates from this level, spawning the joy that music brings to life. The next level curve inward, making a sky and heaven that focus on Morissette and band. The final level of deck trusses as well as the floor lights are laid out linearly, representing humanity's perspective on earth, transmuting the show's feelings of suffering, loss, and anger.

"I approached the technique of lighting her the way Salvador Dali painted his wife Gala," explains Cromwell, "sometimes with a religious or sacred overtone with an over-lit saturated backlight and crystalline lighting flooding the background, then sometimes using key light that emotionally represents the feelings being conveyed distorting what we think of as normal acceptable use of surrealism of color."

Bandit Lites supplied nearly 250 lights including Martin MAC AirFX as floor backlight, GLP X4 Bar 20, GLP JDC-1, Ayrton Khamsins as key light, Claypaky Mythos 2, Claypaky B-EYE K20, and Elation Proteus Hybrids.

"The JDCs are great to do so many things with," shares Cromwell, "just create an empty, industrial hit or a saturated wash look. You can paint the entire world red and start there in a song by turning on 60 JDC1s. As strobes, they are awesome; fun little spokes on the wheels."

When it came to lighting placement, Cromwell noted that Morrisette's previous productions always kept two similar lights next to each other and integrated that theme into his own design. A pre-lockdown viewing of her Tony award winning musical led to Cromwell learning that show's lighting pulled inspiration from an earlier European run (designed by Justin Townsend), resulting in his use of Claypaky B-EYE K20 as an homage.

Cromwell sought a distinct linear look on the floor that was in a direct contrast to the swirling truss in the air. He placed GLP X4 20 Bars placed vertically on pipes, zoomed into 5°, and then added to the tracking system to follow the artist and band.

"It allows me to light them in vertical shafts of lights that aren't contaminating any of the other minimal lighting I'm doing in the scene," he explains.

Morissette's shows always feature constant backlight on the band, but due to the number of outdoor locations encroaching on any Blacktrax calibration time during the day, Jake Tickle, Bandit Lites director of technical services recommend the zactrack SMART.

"It is one of the most versatile tracking systems I've seen," says Tickle. "Upon attending a demo, I was excited to deploy it on a tour. ACT Entertainment's support through the learning process has been second to none. Aria Grosvenor and Doug Mechanic are always a phone call away, they gave us the tools we needed to be successful out the gate."

"It works well for what we need and has a very good growth potential within that interface," Cromwell says. "It calibrates a lot of lights quickly and there is no need for the 'everyone clear the deck for a while' with the way the Bandit crew does it."

He pulls no punches when describing the difficulty of his carefully designed system, particularly his self-described wild goal of being able to track Morissette and the band in an amphitheater tour with over 108 fixtures zoomed in as tight as possible with the artist running full speed across the stage.

"It is a really tough rig. You are pulling 204 large fixtures and hanging them on curved truss in an amphitheater. It is a significant floor package as well, and after that there is tracking calibration."

This is where Bandit's crew, comprised of Bandit's crew is comprised of Mark Scherer, Jeff Archibeque, Justin Wilk, Andrew Ellis, and AJ Quintel shine.

"The crew I have is nothing short of amazing top to bottom," Cromwell praises. "Every light works, every light is hung correctly, and everyone is happy. It's a joy."

"Nate has been outstanding to work with and I would echo the same for the entire production team," finishes Golden. "The tour departed early August and immediately fell into a groove thanks to great leadership from production manager Don Muzquiz and tour manager Peter Yozell. It is a real honor to work with Alanis Morissette, her management, and this entire camp."


(14 September 2021)

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