Back in 1991, Jeffrey Metter was board operating the band lighting console for The Grateful Dead when he got a call inviting him to Atlantic City. Country and pop superstar Kenny Rogers needed a lighting director for an upcoming concert. It was supposed to be a weekend gig, but 26 years later the South African- born lighting designer is still with the multi-platinum singer, lighting the final Kenny Rogers tour. Traveling with them as they crisscross the US is a touring package comprised entirely of CHAUVET Professional fixtures.
Made up of 14 Rogue R2 Wash and eight Rogue RH1 Hybrid fixtures, as well as an assortment of 20 COLORado par units, the rig is substantially smaller than the lighting package Metter used when he began his association with Rogers. Still, the rich warm colors and tight focus of the Chauvet Professional fixtures is helping the designer create a deeply engaging atmosphere that connects the legendary artist to the fans who fill the tour’s mid-sized venues.
"Remember, when I started with Kenny, he was huge, with a capital H,” said Metter, who has served as Rogers’ lighting designer and director since that weekend over a quarter of a century ago. "The first rig I designed for Kenny had 196 moving fixtures. Now I rely on 22 moving Rogues. Although the two rigs are very different in size, my goal as a lighting designer is the same: to help my client tell his story and strengthen the connection to the audience. In this respect, the rig on this tour is succeeding with flying colours.”
"The tour is a very personal linear timeline of Kenny’s life and career,” said Metter. "Our goal is to support this with the lightshow. Our rig has an old-school par style look, but at the same time, we always want to have the vibrant colours and colour changing of LED fixtures. We also value the speed and brightness of the Rogue RH1, especially for songs when we aired things out.”
Like Kenny Rogers himself, the Chauvet Professional fixtures in the tour rig have achieved this high level of performance over the long haul. "The COLORado fixtures have been in our rig since well before this tour,” said Metter. "I’ve had 20 of them out with me for over 300 shows, and there’s been only one fail. The Rogues have already been out with us for about 100 shows, and zero fails. It has been totally impressive.”Looking at his rig for the tour, Metter reflects on his time with Kenny Rogers. "It really has been a fun ride,” he said.
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