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ABBA tribute band Björn Again have been delivering great nights out since their formation in Melbourne in 1988. The only tribute band endorsed by ABBA themselves, they have toured the world, played major festivals and entertained the stars. Lighting designer Alex Saad is currently on the road with Björn Again, and chooses High End Systems Hog platform to light up the feel-good show night after night, venue after venue.
“We were in Port Douglas on Thursday, Townsville on Friday and Canberra on Saturday,” reported Alex, “and everywhere I go I ask for a Hog and nothing else. Björn Again own a HedgeHog4, we often pick-up a HedgeHog 4N, and I prefer to use a Hog 4. Staying in the Hog family is great because I can go from one platform to the other and not lose anything. I can also take a HedgeHog home for pre-programing and run the show on a Hog 4.”
With a nimble schedule and flights almost every day, Alex doesn’t tour fixtures, and relies on adapting the show to suit the lighting rig in each venue. “It’s the palettes I generally update at every gig,” Alex continued, “and that updates all the cues. I can’t emphasise how important palettes are. The palettes on the Hog are laid out really well. I also have to fixture swap from one show to another all the time, which the Hog makes really easy.”
In creating a lighting experience that complements ABBA’s timeless pop, Alex start with the most important element; the talent. “The first thing to do is to light the performers so people can see them, their costumes, what they’re singing, and what they’re playing. Then it’s effects on top of and behind that. I tend to work with LEDs a lot now because they’re fast and efficient. That’s what the show is; fast, colourful, bright and happy.”
Alex also revels in re- creating classic looks in songs like Fernanado. “You put eight Sharpies on a mirror ball and you hear the crowd go ‘wow’ and they all get their phones out and take photos,” beamed Alex. “On every show it’s about creating moments that people walk away and talk about. The idea is for the crowd to say ‘Gee, that was a great night, I want to see them again’, it’s about creating a lot of memories.”
Australian High End Systems distributor Lexair is another reason Alex chooses to operate on Hog. “If I get stuck, they sort me out really quickly,” Alex confirmed. “There’s been lots of midnight calls, and I know I can ring at any time. You’re always learning, there’s always new updates and new software, and Lexair always provide lots of support.”
Beyond Björn Again, Alex continues to specify Hog on his tours. “Next I’m working for comedian Russel Brand, then Icehouse. Icehouse is a huge show with pixel mapping, Catalyst mapping, Magic Panels, molfeys, strobes, and 120 6mm pitch LED panels. It’s all operated on a Hog 4 and a Wing. It’s good to know that when you’re pumping out lots of information that the desk can handle it. I like the power and the solid state drives in the Hogs. You know it’s solid, what it’s churning out is solid, and that it won’t fall over, stall or crash.”
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