Patrick Sollitt Powers Multi-Look Paul Heaton Show With ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium
The Guardian newspaper has described Paul Heaton as one of Britain’s “finest songwriters.” He is also one of its most prolific. Just ask Patrick Sollitt, the lighting designer on his current UK tour, who has over 70 tunes on his current song page, with new ones being added all the time. “With such a large back catalog going back 20-plus years ago to Paul’s days with the Housemartins, onto Beautiful South and his current hits, we draw on a wide range of music,” said Sollitt. “It’s a nice challenge to have to create unique looks for so many songs.”
Sollitt is meeting this challenge in stunning fashion with a robust, fast-moving and very flexible six universe lightshow that features 34 wash, 24 spot and six beam fixtures run on a ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium.
“I would describe the lightshow as ‘big,’” said Sollitt. “We put a lot of brightness out there and change things up quite a bit as the music goes from full on pop to delicate ballads. Paul conveys a range of emotions and mixes styles from various points in his career. We vary our lighting to reflect these moods.”
A ChamSys user since 2007 when he was lighting the Pigeon Detectives tour, Sollitt began working with the MagicQ MQ500 Stadium in 2017 whilst touring the UK with another legend, Russell Watson. He’s since used the console on a variety of tours and festivals.
“There is a lot to like about the MQ500,” he said. “Having two screens is really convenient, as are the greater number of faders. The build quality is impressive, and the desk is very well equipped for busking with generous screen space for executor pages and many additional executor buttons above the playbacks.”
However, Sollitt didn’t busk on the Paul Heaton tour. Instead he “delicately programmed” each song on his extensive set list, designing his show using WYSIWYG for plots and the onboard ChamSys 3D Visualiser for some off-line programming.
“The visualizer is a big help in programming, making it very easy to change up the lights,” he said. “I really liked the way I was able to get beam and gobo rendering done on the visualiser.”
Now beginning his third year as Paul Heaton’s lighting designer, Sollitt is looking forward to creating ever more engaging shows, thanks to his deepening understanding of the beloved performer and enhanced tools like the MagicQ MQ500, which he describes as having “everything I need as an LD.”
Recalling how his association with Heaton began, Sollitt said, “Tom Sheils-Barrett, the tour manager who I had previously worked with on the Waterboys tour, called and asked if I’d be interested in doing lights for Paul. Of course, I jumped at the chance!”
Neither Sollitt nor his lightshow have looked back since.