What Ears Hear, Eyes See! part 2
1975 Toronto, Canada
In 1974, with the writing and subsequent recording of Down to Earth, for "Astral Man," "Fidgety Queen," "Early Morning Clown,"
"That's Life" and "Show me the Way," the screens became a circus tent, and like roustabouts, the crew erected the entire environment,
then tore it down, night after night. It was during that time period the idea of a fourth screen came to mind… as a roof. As the center screen was moved
back to give Ron a larger area for his expanding kit, the side screens were angled at about thirty degrees so that a fourth screen could be attached from
the front lighting truss to the top of all three vertical screens.
The "box" effect enabled the purple fingers of the liquid "big slide" (which visually followed most guitar and organ solos) to fill
the area above the band and the other screens… the projection was round, and huge by design yet often only half of it was ever seen unless it was projected
through a long throw lens to condense it on the center screen only. Floating slides and the big slide could rise out of the panoramic backdrop which added
a new dimension to the show. The box also retained the smoke or dry ice much better, which made for longer periods for the laser and strobes to be effective.
Ron added his tympani and gongs, and the screens were raised enough to compensate those, along with additional backline amplification.
Then came Recycled… Panoramic mountains, cities, streets, beaches and garbage… and the band played within it all, with Hollie Holitztka's famous eagle
with tears in his eyes watching from the side screens before descending, sword in his talons to take center screen for the conclusion of side one.
The light show reached its pinnacle in 1976 when Mick was able to completely engulf the audience. The last time the full lightshow was displayed was on
June 3, 1977 at the Palladium Theatre in New York City.
Mick's light show ideas changed little during this time (1976 to 1977) until the start of the "Magical" tour September 24, 1977 when at the
Morris Stage, Morristown, New Jersey Mick projected his light show from the rear of the stage. Gone was the set up that was so familiar to all the fans
that used to be in front of the stage. A part of the light show's grandeur was lost because Mick projected his show from behind the stage.
To complement the light show in 1977, Nektar added Pete's "cannon", a 3 inch billet aluminum tube, about 24 inches long that was sealed at the
bottom and wired like a flash–pot to the show. Angled at 45 degrees into the audience, it fired a ball of "magic paper" powered by the flash
powder. It wasn't very loud however; it created an expanding ball of fire which went high above the audience. As the ball broke up, the embers fluttered
down, yet they were totally extinguished before they ever reached the seats, in fact NOTHING reached the seats. A large Magic mushroom was added to the
stage show midway through the tour. When "Magic Is A Child" was played, Ron would sit on a large mushroom on the stage and sing the lead vocals.
"I used the Showco light board to direct the stage lighting, not a full light show. The whole rear projection via mirrors idea had not been working
well in certain venues with a short stage, and the 3 band schedule was too tight to change things on that night, as all the seats were sold, thus I had
nowhere to set up in the audience," said Mick.
"My final actual full light show of that era was a front projection show at the Memorial Hall Kansas City on Tuesday, November 15, 1977. I played
the stage lighting board at each "Magic Tour" show from KC on," said Mick.
"As a footnote, I (we) tried using THREE REAR projection screens only on that Magic tour, whereas I HAD been using FOUR FRONT projection screens
(three across with a white roof) since 1975. The change was requested by promoters to allow the seating area that I'd required in the audience to be used
for people to sit. Hmmmmmm… In retrospect, it seems that the idea backfired," said Mick.
As a side note: Mick continued using parts of his light show when performing with Sam The Band in the New York City and Jersey shore area in 1977 and 1978. Mick would set up
a screen off to the side of the stage away from the band to wow the fans instead of projecting his light show from behind the stage or from the front
like he did with Nektar.