It’s been 23 years since Rea Garvey and his former band Reamonn stormed their way up the charts with “Supergirl”. Today, the likable Irishman is one of Germany’s most popular musicians and a frequent guest on the largest stages at major festivals. Chris “Rocketchris” Glatthor has been with Rea Garvey almost from the beginning. The lighting and production designer has known Rea since the 1990s (“We first met in 1999 at a small festival in my hometown of Gladbeck”) and has been responsible for the complete visual realisation since 2014 as a permanent production designer. The current “Roots” Tour is deliberately taking the team back to smaller clubs – a very special live setting that requires a lot of flexibility on tour.
We met Rocketchris at Alte Kongresshalle in Munich and spoke with him about his work with Rea Garvey, his design for the Roots Tour and his use of various Cameo spotlights.
Chris, what’s it like to work as a lighting designer for Rea Garvey? What do you like about it most?
Chris Glatthor: With Rea, every show is different. He’s the boss and decides spontaneously what he does, how he interacts with the audience, and so on. That’s the exciting part of a live show – and the reason why a timecode-based show wouldn’t work in this setting. I control everything live to be able to react to these moments. Everything you see on stage is part of a process, a bit like a ping-pong match, between Rea and myself. It’s essential that an artist feels that it’s his stage and not mine. In addition, Rea is always open for creative ideas and trusts me, even if certain things don’t work right away during the first shows. You don’t find that kind of trust very often.
How did you approach the lighting design for the Roots club tour?
Chris Glatthor: The Roots tour is special in various ways: It’s the first real tour in several years. Also, there’s no new album accompanying the tour, hence the name “Roots”. We play in small clubs with capacities of about 600 to 1000 people, and the budget is relatively limited. Despite this situation, Rea wanted to bring equipment to ensure that we could achieve the same looks every day and offer the audience the same experience – regardless of the room and the material available on site at the clubs.
“The spotlights are my emotional amplifiers.”
Chris „Rocketchris“ Glatthor
Was there even a real pre-production phase?
Chris Glatthor: No, not really. I had about a couple of days to program a little bit at home, and then we were off to the first club. Everything else was created at the locations.
You’ve mentioned that you like to use the artwork of the current album as a guide …
Chris Glatthor: Yes, because as a lighting designer, I don’t work for myself, but always for the artist. I try to absorb the music, the lyrics and the message, and magnify them for the audience. The spotlights are my emotional amplifiers. The colour spaces are always the foundation, and I use them to pick up the underlying mood of each song. A romantic ballad just doesn’t work with green lighting.”
“In clubs, I need spotlights that can create a vibe even at short distances.”
Chris „Rocketchris“ Glatthor
How do you use the various Cameo spotlights for the Roots Tour?
Chris Glatthor: When it comes to a distinct look, the PIXBAR SMD IP G2 certainly have the greatest visual dominance. The PIXBARs are stacked across the entire width of the stage and light up the foil as backlights on the floor. I’m also impressed with the AZOR S2. Those are great, compact spotlights that offer lots of possibilities despite their compact size. I have six of them on the floor. In small clubs, the distance between the lights and the artist is of course rather short. That’s why you need spotlights that can create a vibe even at short distances, for example through gobos. With their colours and the wide 50° zoom, the AZOR S2 have really impressed me. And they pack a punch – especially for their compact size. In addition, we have twelve ZENIT Z180 G2 in various positions, for example as sidelights or for atmospheric upstage lighting.
The following Cameo products are used on Rea Garvey’s Roots Tour: