Guns N’ Roses ‘Not in This Lifetime Tour’ Lighting Director Gives New Interview!
ETNow did an interview with the Phil Ealy who is the lighting director of the ‘Not in This Lifetime Tour’. You can read the whole article here.
Phil’s work with the iconic American hard rockers dates back over 30 years, since they first hit stardom with their debut ‘Appetite for Destruction’ album released in 1987. Ron Schilling is out on the road as lighting director for this one which is the first time that three original members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan have performed together since 1993.
The style of the set design actually had its roots in the original “Use Your Illusion” tour, a famous snapshot of rock & roll history from 1991 – 93, renowned for many things including being one of the longest ever rock tours.
The GNR band members all felt comfortable with the basic architecture and overall feel of the original set design, so Phil took this as his starting point and brought it up-to-date with the most recent lighting and visuals including the BMFLs and adding video to the set fascias.
Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan all have different managements, so Phil’s initial challenge back in 2016 included getting all three to agree on a viable aesthetic for the tour. Having the experience of working with them for so long however, he has a very good idea of what they do and don’t like!
The tour’s universal lighting rig has been adapted for several legs including the most recent European section, and it has seen a number of permutations in other parts of the world, all in keeping with the same vintage big rock show styling.
Ron has been using Robe products for around ten years now and appreciates the “consistency and dependability” of them holding focus show after show, Ron adds that from a crew chief point of view (for the US legs with Upstaging he also takes on that role): “You don’t have to worry that the lights will need maintenance after a few shows.”
From an operator’s standpoint, when he presses the button – and that’s approximately 3500 times each show – “Each time the lights come on I think the BMFL effects look cool,” which says a lot!
He recalls a previous experience with BMFL Spots on AC/DC in arguably: “The worst positions and conditions ever,” out-rigged on top of a StageCo roof structure in half domes for weather protection. The fixtures were strapped to motors and lifted 65 feet to the platform where his technician, Morgan Prine, and a stagehand installed them on the scaffolding. “I bet the factory never tested them for that,” he quipped!
After two years on the road on that tour, they had to work on only two BMFLs which is impressive by any standards, and he adds that Robe’s customer service if you do happen to need it, is “excellent”.
Ron, who has been a professional lighting tech for 25 years, first met Phil and Rob Koenig – programmer and operator for the first leg of ‘Not in This Lifetime’ – in spring 2016 when the tour began, and he was working as crew chief for Upstaging. When Rob returned to Metallica to LD their tour, Ron put his name forward for the GNR operators position. Phil and Rob started teaching him the show, and 100 plus performances later everyone is still rocking!
‘Not In This Lifetime’ is currently the fourth largest grossing tour ever, based on Billboard’s Boxscore archives and Phil Ealy describes it as “the gift that keeps on giving”. Dates are scheduled to continue throughout 2018.