Clay Paky on Tour with Mark Knopfler


“I’m having the time of my life with these,” said an ebullient Simon Tutchener, lighting designer for Mark Knopfler. “I’m still getting to know the lights but everything I’ve seen so far is just what I was expecting.”

Tutchener is using the new Clay Paky Sharpy Wash and the Alpha Spot QWO 800. “I knew the Sharpy Wash was coming, and had read about the QWO 800s, so I suggested to Noreen O’Riordan at Entec that we should take a look. She agreed and we duly set of for a demo at Ambersphere. There are many features that attracted me, even on first examination you see they’re not huge hulking great lumps of metal work. I knew straight away the Sharpy Wash was what I wanted, not just the physical size, the intense brightness as well. Lightweight lamps with this quality and power of output are the way forward”.

“The QWO was also an easy choice” – says Tutchener.  “Ambersphere are the distributor for Clay Paky and they really put on a comprehensive demo’ for us, every moving light in the Clay Paky range in fact. Overall the QWO is for me the best, or rather, the most versatile. I have eight people in this band to light so the QWO has to be a real workhorse. The great zoom range from 7.6 to 55 degrees coupled with the ‘stay sharp’ feature to keep gobos constantly in focus as you zoom is a real bonus. Mark (Knopfler) is very insistent, no lamps moving during songs, and no rotating or animated gobos, so that ‘stay sharp’ while zooming is a real boon in terms of adding some dynamics to the look on stage.”


O’Riordan felt the investment well worth it. “As a company Entec chooses very carefully where we spend our cap’ ex’ budget, but this was a straight forward decision. The Sharpy has proved a world beater since its launch; we expect nothing less from the Sharpy Wash. As for the QWO; the Ambersphere demo’ was compelling and I think Simon’s assessment is spot on; a good quality light with all the features and more that you need to make it a great workhorse. We get outstanding service and back up from Ambersphere, I know they’re like that with everyone, but that just makes the purchase decision easier.”

Tutchener has over fifty of the two Clay Paky models, plus some S4 profiles for pick-ups and Moles for audience light.  “I’ve only been using them a short time and they are lovely, I am particularly impressed with the colour range in both Wash and QWO; the magentas are delightful and the deep purples are practically real UV. The Alpha Spot QWO 800 contrasts well with the ACLs I have in the rig: yes I’ve gone a little retro and put 24 Par64 ACLs into my design. The QWOs on the front truss are 30 feet above the stage deck, yet even in a big number like Telegraph Road where I’m really putting a lot of light on stage the QWOs still appear as a stand out beam. For a song with such cinematic scope that potency is essential.”


LD - Simon Tutchener (left) and MD Ambersphere - Glyn O'Donoghue (right)

Tutchener is using a full size GrandMA 2 console for control, “I had already decided to go with the GrandMA 2; we had a full size last year when Mark toured with Bob Dylan. What attracted me was the greater amount of available control surface; I already have a large scene library for many of the songs within Mark’s repertoire, but I like to operate manually on top of what I’ve pre-programmed. Yes it’s a bit old school, but Mark’s music in live performance is very subtly detailed; having a dozen free faders with which to tease in added touches at any given moment, maybe something as slight as a thirty percent lift in the level from a profile, makes the application so much more fluent and responsive.”

And now the tour is underway is Tutchener confirmed in his choices? “Mark asked me something very similar: he said, are you happy with the new rig? Happy? I’m ecstatic.”