Lighting designer Cory Fitzgerald explains how Bieber elevated his arena tour for his most mature album yet.

By Ariana Bacle
Updated March 23, 2016 at 01:04 PM EDT
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

He’s one of pop’s biggest stars, embarking on one of the season’s most anticipated arena tours, but that’s not to say putting on Justin Bieber’s Purpose tour wasn’t without it’s challenges.

Some parts of Bieber’s Purpose tour were easier to light than others: The water curtain that comes down during the musician’s encore performance of “Sorry,” for example, was one of the more challenging, according to lighting designer Cory Fitzgerald, who’s also worked with big names like Beyoncé and Bruno Mars (he recently lit their Super Bowl halftime show. “It took a couple tries,” he tells EW. “It gets everything wet, let’s put it that way.”

This tour marks Bieber’s first time on the road since going through what he’s called “a rough couple of years” when every arrest and misbehavior made headlines. He seemingly references this in the symbolic Purpose tour opener, “Mark My Words,” where he makes his first appearance in a plexiglass box that hangs above the crowd.

“Lighting that box was basically just about isolating him for the beginning,” Fitzgerald explains. “It’s a really sort of minimalist idea.”

Other songs are a bit more playful with the lighting, like the strobe-heavy “No Sense” and “Hold Tight” mash-up, which features Bieber walking the stage as red and blue lights flash over him. “Steel blue and white” are the most prevalent colors in the show though, a decision Fitzgerald says that came from “the album art’s monochromatic feel.”

Fitzgerald works closely with the tour’s creative director Nick Demoura and stresses the importance of collaboration on an event like this. “It’s always fun to shape a show like this with people who really know what they’re doing and know what they’re asking for and know what they want to see,” he says.

The Purpose tour kicked off March 9 in Seattle and concludes Nov. 29 in London. See the list of upcoming tour dates here, and read EW’s dispatch from the tour opener here.