Stage Lighting


Eat your heart out all you hippies from San Francisco - Manchester bands were up in the forefront when it came to psychedelic light shows! The Phoenix City Smash (below) had the scene all sewed up.

Sat proudly on top of the Marshall PA was a stunning, devastatingly blinding, halucogenic, eye-numbing, power soaking, 150 watts of mind-blowing strobe lighting.

Made up of a small motor with a spinning cardboard disk in front of it, the light strobed through a small slice carefully cut from the card.

If I remember rightly, to maintain the professional styling of this magnificent piece of lighting, it was housed in an old Watkins Westminster amp case. Looking at the picture in the Watkins section above, it certainly looks like it!

The band also carried "flashing lights" which were originally flashed by a roadie ("Faster you bugger, earn your 1/9d a night") but thanks to their ingenuity (and growing RSI) the lights became became automated.

First take an old record player with a metal turntable and make it "live". Attach insulating tape strips to make it "dead" in spots. Then add a few contacts and the lights flash! Just don't touch the desk!

The Watkins Westminsterstrobe - circa 1969 at Sloopy's. The band had their eyes closed due to the sheer power of the 150 watt light bulb inside. That's yer actual webmaster playing sax on the right - although many who heard him would challenge the word "playing".

Prof Graham Pilkington (PhD Strobology) - Executive strobe designer writes

"I remember building this wonderful strobe for the Phoenix. It was powered by a 12 v dc motor run off a train set controller and was put in a Watkins Westminster amp box that I used to use in a previous group when I was younger (Alan Vernon Set).

The only problem was keeping it still, we used to have to tie it down due to the vibration of the box ,and yes it was a 150 watt bulb, so bright and warm that we could not keep it on too long because of the heat and fear of sunburn to the brass section."

Graham now has a Manchester Beat staff bicycle and pedals his way around Manchester looking for snaps of the old venues as they are now. His work, much in demand, can be seen on many venue pages. His "genre" is unique, his work fresh and vibrant reflecting the ethnosimplicity of modern society in a surreal Dylanesque manner. 

His speciality is photos of the back door of clubs. C'mon, how many bands remember the front of a club? The back was a meeting place, a place to chat, smoke, grope, etc.




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