PLUS... The Weeknd • Les Ardentes • Bavaria Sounds • CORE Festival • Wembley Wonders • Introducing Hans Willems INTERNATIONAL NEWS AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 EDITION WWW.STAGECO.COM ELTON’S FINAL FLING NFL DRAFT ON WATER TOWERING INDOCHINE
the Spheres COLDPLAY
Building Music of
Nearly 45 years after founding Belgian event staging pioneer Stageco, Hedwig De Meyer is stepping down from his leadership role, and has named Hans Willems as Stageco Belgium’s new executive CEO, effective January 1st 2023.
The move, says De Meyer, 68, was intended to take place two years ago but was delayed due to the pandemic lockdown.
“Now that our business has begun to stabilise after a very busy summer, the time feels right to pass the baton to Hans, who gave us every confidence that he was the most logical choice of successor,” he explains.
Formerly head of R&D at Stageco, Willems, 51, established his own world-class business, WICREATIONS, nearly 18 years ago. As CEO, he has driven his company to become one of the
global live industry’s leading creative players in motion technology. Together, Stageco and WICREATIONS have collaborated on many of the world’s leading concert tours by the likes of U2, The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and Rammstein among many other premier acts.
“Hans knows the industry inside out, and possesses exemplary leadership skills,” comments De Meyer. “The manner in which he has grown WICREATIONS is extraordinary and while our two companies will remain independent of each other, there is now greater potential for partnership and creative collaboration.”
Until the end of 2022, Willems will divide his time between the two companies, working with his teams to align their cultures and shape a new ecosystem that further exploits their already existing organic synergies.
STAGECO FOUNDER HEDWIG DE MEYER NAMES HANS WILLEMS AS CEO SUCCESSOR 2 Major senior management change from January 1st INTERNATIONAL NEWS AUTUMN/ WINTER 2022 4 BOOGDAK RISING: The NFL Draft on water at Las Vegas’ Hotel Bellagio • 7 LAUNCHING CORE • 8 ELTON’S FINAL FLING: Farewell Yellow Brick Road • 14 SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKND 18 STATESIDE SUMMARY: A Stageco US round-up • 20 WELCOME TO LES ARDENTES • 22 HIGHLIGHTS FROM A GERMAN SUMMER • 30 INDOCHINE: The Central Tour • 36 ALL SYSTEMS GO IN THE HECTIC HEATWAVE: An unusual outdoor season for the Dutch 40 COLDPLAY: Music of the Spheres • 46 NEW CLIENTS = NEW CHALLENGES: More activity from Stageco Belgium • 50 UNDER WEMBLEY’S ARCH: Thinking big in sunny west London • 52 THE STAGECO LIBRARY Visit our online vault of production case studies AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Says Willems: “I have always had enormous respect for Hedwig and the Stageco business, and I am proud to be given the responsibility to lead this legendary company into the future. In these times of fierce disruption, a European player can only position itself in the global live production arena and deliver prime innovative solutions when joining forces.
“Authenticity, powered by own unique strengths and sustainable values, is key and I am looking forward to realising the fruits of this new chapter.”
Meanwhile, although De Meyer will no longer participate in Stageco’s daily operations, he remains Chairman of the group and will assume the new role of Chief Visionary Officer on January 1st 2023, applying his rich experience, expertise and worldwide network to support the Group’s business at his own pace. He comments: “One
of my ongoing interests is the development of Stageco’s new office and warehousing site which is scheduled to open in 2024, but my day-to-day activities will come to an end when this year is over, allowing me to give more of myself to family life.”
In closing, De Meyer says: “We all extend a warm welcome to Hans as he prepares to lead our company into a new and exciting era in our history.”
“I am proud to be given the responsibility to lead this legendary company into the future...” HANS WILLEMS
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In our next edition, we review HEDWIG DE MEYER’s record of achievements with Stageco and talk to HANS WILLEMS about his plans for the company throughout 2023 and beyond.
Photography © Jelle Jansegers
Stageco US’s crew build on water for the NFL’s annual recruitment drive
When the event industry returned from lockdown, it came back with a vengeance. One of the more unusual projects to be “taken out of the freezer” by STAGECO US happened in April when Las Vegas hosted the USA’s annual NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE DRAFT (NFL DRAFT), also known as the Player Selection Meeting.
The NFL’s most common source of player recruitment, the Draft system – routine among American sports – sees hundreds of the nation’s top college football players have their fate determined by 32 teams aiming to pick out the cream of the crop over a three-day period.
Launched as far back as 1936, the NFL Draft, along with its experiential sideshows and parties, has previously been held in a number of cities and after a two-year break it landed in the city that constantly reinvents the word “excess”. No wonder, then, that this was literally a show on water. Working in partnership with Steve Enger at Vegas-
based Rigging Technologies and Tony Lamecker of decking vendor Stagehouse LV, Stageco US project manager Tom Frederickx devised a strategy to construct a 40m wide performance footprint on the lake in front of the famous Hotel Bellagio fountains off Las Vegas Boulevard, a.k.a. the Strip. This involved the supply and build of a regular 18m x 14m Boogdak roof... although there was nothing regular about building everything from the bottom of the lake upwards.
Stageco’s team of seven American and two European supervisors was headed by Jesse Winn. Together, they handled seven trailers full of equipment that had been systematically packed to cope with the limited unloading space. Three of the crew were certificated divers and they were assisted by a pair of local professional divers who maintain the hotel’s fountains and were familiar with scaffolding and building underwater. “Having genuine experts at our disposal was of huge benefit to us,” commented Frederickx.
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STAG E C O SU 4 Photography © Hotel Bellagio; NFL; Stageco US
A five-day build schedule, work began at 6am sharp every morning and shut down at 4.30pm because, as Frederickx pointed out, the activity was attracting a high degree of attention from passersby along the Strip.
“It was amusing to watch the crowd change at different parts of the day,” he said. “When the crew started work each day, there were still some clearly inebriated people wandering around after a long night out. As the morning wore on they were replaced by parents and children. Then, by late afternoon, the party crowd started to come out in
force. It was like having three audiences in one day but, of course, we had a large security presence to prevent tourists entering our busy area.”
Two of the Strip’s four lanes were blocked off throughout the whole period to provide space for a ‘boneyard’ [a storage area for equipment] where some equipment was pre-assembled in order to assist with the smooth running of the job.
A third lane was also secured during working hours when the crew were forklifting gear and using a 350 tonne crane to lift and drop heavy concrete blocks and steel into the water.
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“In mid-April, the Bellagio’s two metre deep lake isn’t very warm so we made sure to limit diving shifts to a maximum of two hours, allowing for suitable warming-up breaks,” reported Frederickx, who also reported that after a very successful event, load-out was brisk and simple, requiring just a single diver.
He added: “This was probably the most fascinating project I have managed so far this year and I thank our team, our collaborators, and the NFL for the opportunity to play ball!”
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A brand new summer event for Belgium, the two-day, boutique style CORE Music Festival held on May 27th and 28th was a collaboration between Live Nation and Tomorrowland that saw Stageco heavily involved as the vendor and builder of two of its stages under Kevin De Meyer’s crew management...
Set in the beautiful surroundings of leafy Osseghem Park, against the backdrop of Brussels’ iconic Atomium, CORE opened Belgium’s festival season with an eclectic line-up of big names and blossoming talent that bridged indie, hip-hop, electronica, hyper pop and alternative dance, and drew around 40,000 partygoers.
The main stage featured a 3-tower roof and stage wings built from 160 tonnes of black and grey steel, packed into 13 trailers. Connected with 1400 trusses, the wings consisted of eight
750 towers, while a 21m wide (1800) portal above the roof supported the PA hangs and top video screen measuring 60m wide and 10m high.
“Our biggest challenge was working on an uneven pitch,” remarked Voeten. “From left to right, the level differed by 1.5 metres so we had to compensate by bringing in extra timber and steel to create an even horizontal foundation.”
Stageco also created a smaller second stage – the Groentheater – with a DJ roof and two PA towers. For the load-out, Kevin De Meyer’s crew were assisted by a team led by Paul van Belle.
STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 STAGEC O MUIGLEB 7 Photography © COREfestival.com; Stageco Belgium
Bookending more than half a century as a virtually peerless hitmaker with a staggering 300 million record sales to his name, FAREWELL YELLOW BRICK ROAD brings to a close SIR ELTON JOHN’s career as an iconic concert touring act. Launched in 2018, the tour is currently due to play 329 shows worldwide before it draws to a close in July 2023.
A long-time service provider to the ‘Rocket Man’, Stageco has been proud to be a key contributor to a production that, from its inception, was designed to present the ultimate celebration of an artist who continues to be as relevant as ever, as demonstrated by Sir Elton’s recent successful collaborations with Dua Lipa, Britney Spears and Years & Years.
Opulence and grace were just two of the watchwords informing Sir Elton’s team of creative directors: his partner David Furnish, Sam Pattinson of video content producers Treatment Studio, lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe and Tony King, a constant
Stageco conjures another world first as it celebrates the Rocket Man’s unparalleled glittering career
Photography © Rocket Entertainment/Ben-Gibson;
Anne-Marie Caruso; Stageco Belgium
presence in the star’s professional life since the early 1970s.
“There is no one like Elton… his whole life has been such a broad spectrum of spectacular events, and the tour had to embody that,” said King. “It was very important to give his loyal fans something special that they would always remember.”
Dirk De Decker, Stageco’s project manager for the tour, explained, it has been one of the leading Belgian firm’s most important recent commissions. “Aside from this being such a unique, milestone tour for Sir Elton, it also required us to design and build a specially customised low roof for the star and his band,” advised De Decker, who worked closely on the project with colleague Dirk Van De Goor, John’s production manager Peter McFee and Stufish Entertainment Architects.
Under Ray Winkler’s leadership, Stufish transformed the architecture of the original arena show into an identical, scaled-up version for stadium performances. Working within an overall footprint of 62 metres x 30 metres at full scale, the central structure built by Stageco was 20 metres high. Wrapping around the elegantly curved stage and centre screen is an ornamental ‘yellow brick road’
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portal, sculpted by Jacqueline Pyle, that provides a framework for sculptures representing carefully chosen career moments.
Situated below an impressive central LED video screen is the world’s largest touring cantilever roof
Above & left: In rehearsal at Rock Lititz and (opposite, top right) in Frankfurt. Opposite, centre & bottom: Scenes from Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford on July 23rd 2022.
– another first for Stageco. Twenty-five metres wide and spanning more than 15 metres, the roof’s 18 metre long cantilevers mimic the appearance of giant, illuminated ribs protruding over the performance area, while a layer of transparent PVC material between the ribs ensures weatherproofing for Sir Elton and his band.
Two of these roofs were manufactured as part of a global Stageco package that numbers three leapfrogging steel systems, each contained within 18 trucks. This package includes four delay towers, two front-of-house risers and further cantilevers for the 25 metre high PA hangs.
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Ahead of the first North American leg, production rehearsals were held at Rock Lititz in Pennsylvania. Further down the line, Frankfurt was the chosen location for a technical workout prior to European stadium concerts.
While Gert Hulsmans fulfilled the role of Stageco’s head of engineering for the project, working alongside structural engineer Jelte Smets, up to 16 crew were assigned to each of the three on-site build teams in Europe, headed respectively by Tim Praet, Frank Bohme and Marco Pietr Van de Panne. (This workforce has been reduced to two teams in America.)
THE PM’S VIEW
Reflecting on his close-knit bond with Stageco throughout the project, production manager Peter McFee was moved to comment: “Up until March 2022, all I had seen were the concept drawings. We started to prepare to go into Studio One at Rock Lititz, and we had our first hurdles where we were too tall for the building to build the main upstage sections using a crane. Stageco came up with a workaround using hinged trusses and two-tonne motors.
“Over the next week of the build, we had plenty of other issues fitting into the building, which at every point, Stageco worked out how to do it. Once we overcame those hurdles, we had to add workable production areas that weren’t worked out in the original design.
“At every point, Stageco worked with me to fulfil our needs by adding custom cow sheds and a large substantial waterproofed area upstage to accommodate all our technical equipment and the lift that is the endof-show gag. At no point did they say we can’t do that. They just got on and did it.”
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Worthy of mention are three veteran members of Sir Elton’s band – the immaculately dressed drummer Nigel Olsson, guitarist and MD Davey Johnstone, and distinctive percussionist Ray Cooper – all of whom have been crucial to the star’s live sound since his earliest successes.
Though this will be John’s last road adventure, he has not ruled out the possibility of occasional live appearances.
In the meantime, a visual souvenir of this tour is in the pipeline as filmmaker R.J. Cutler and David Furnish are to co-direct Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: The Final Elton John Performances and The Years That Made His Legend. Scheduled to be filmed on November 20th at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium, the last show of the current American leg, the documentary will premiere at film festivals and in cinemas before streaming on Disney+.
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Sir Elton wowed the crowds at his beloved Watford Football Club on July 3rd and 4th 2022.
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STAG E C O SU
AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS 14 Photography © Nabil Elderkin; Live Nation; Stageco US
Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado; August 18th 2022.
Escapism and romance meet dystopian mystery on Torontonian singer, songwriter and producer THE WEEKND’s first-ever stadium tour, AFTER HOURS TIL DAWN – a lavish, widescreen live extravaganza based on his last two studio albums, aided by the skills, know-how and experience of Stageco US.
Born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the Grammy Awardwinning artist suffered numerous delays before he was able to open the first leg of his tour commenced on July 14th at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. His most ambitious production of his career to date, The Weeknd’s show according to his creative director La Mar Taylor is a jour ney “through a cosmic cataclysm that has erupted and plagued the earth. The devastation is widespread and will most likely continue till dawn.”
Designed by the celebrated Es Devlin, the set combines three stages: the main stage, showcasing a row of 17 custom-carved, “semidestroyed” buildings including Toronto’s CN
Tower, and a screen behind them showing visuals of a futuristic post-apocalyptic skyline; the main stage leads to a catwalk leading into a quadrangular stage, which features an inflatable moon over its edge and also unites the catwalk leading into a circular stage.
Stageco US’s Tom Frederickx has liaised throughout the project with production manager Robert DeCeglio and scenic/automation specialists Tait to help steer the show to fruition. “It was The Weeknd’s first outdoor production so there were some teething issues to iron out before we were up and running properly with the artist’s crew,” said Frederickx. “To their credit, they put a really attractive production on the road very smoothly in the end.”
In total, this first leg has spanned 18 cities across the USA and Canada. The tour has been using three leapfrogging systems, based on the tried and tested design Stageco
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had in place for U2’s The Joshua Tree tour in 2017, with one main difference: this time, the enormous 55m wide x 15m tall video screen is not curved.
“At first, our work was all about supporting a video screen and a PA system,” continued Frederickx, “For the PA hangs, we ended up using the same four 18m long cantilever devices that we had on U2 five years ago. These are supported by a network of portal structures that are anchored with ballast to enable the long reach. But then they wanted our system to incorporate lighting, so we also provided
a large outrigger in the centre because the span of the original lighting truss was becoming too big. Everything was then fully under control.”
Underneath the trapezoidal scenic main stage is a sub-deck built by Stageco in collaboration with Tait that factors in added capacity for the heavyweight building set pieces that appear burnt and rusted to highlight the apocalyptic narrative.
Seventeen trailers of black steel and a construction crew of 14 are required per system. For the most
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part, the wholly American teams have been led by Farley Gross, Jesse Winn and Ryan Barry, however, when a third system was needed to cover two cities towards the end of the leg, Frank Böhme came in to lead a European crew.
A UN Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme (WFP), The Weeknd launched the XO Humanitarian Fund in partnership with the organisation. On
the North American After Hours Til Dawn tour, he has been donating one dollar from every ticket sold, in addition to a US$500,000 donation, to the WFP.
This first leg concludes on November 27th at SoFi Stadium California.
STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Below: The artist formerly known as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye.
Stageco US’s calendar has also been filled to the brim with all manner of other projects, covering major live music tours and festivals, as well as deep dives into the ever-demanding sport and corporate event worlds.
From mid-April until the end of August, the company supplied a package including a 4-Tower roof to country star Kenny Chesney’s Here And Now tour. At a number of points in his schedule, Chesney’s stage was shared with other incoming touring acts, namely the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lady Gaga, at venues such as the Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford.
British metal veterans Def Leppard hired Stageco’s services on its recent Stadium Tour, using a European crew, and other visiting
STAG E C O SU
It’s been go, go, go all the way throughout 2022 for Stageco’s business across the Atlantic. Here are some more US project highlights...
AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS Photography © Stageco US; Insomniac
clients from over the pond included Coldplay, Rammstein and Sir Elton John. Among the repeating annual projects that made a splash were Philadelphia’s Made In America event, New York City’s Global Citizen Live and the always monstrous Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on May 20th-22nd.
On the sporting front, as well as servicing WWE’s SummerSlam contest, Stageco US supplied and built the ceremony stage and a series of video portals at the first-ever Miami Formula One Grand Prix, held in May at the Miami International Autodrome in Florida.
Finally, here’s a brief salute to Stageco’s presence at State Farm Insurance 100th Anniversary celebration and national convention, a private event starring Garth Brooks at Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL Las Vegas Raiders. We hope to bring you the full story in the next edition of our international news bulletin.
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EDC Las Vegas.
Miami F1 Grand Prix.
Red Hot Chili Peppers.
WELCOME TO LES ARDENTES!
For eight solid days, Stageco’s crew worked hard to create three distinctive stages for the return of the LES ARDENTES music festival in Liège, Belgium, presented on a new, 25-hectare site in Rocourt that saw the previous capacity double in size to accommodate a mighty 210,000 in total. As event spokesperson Jean-Yves Reumont observed: “It’s like we’ve graduated from cycling to Formula 1!”
Anderson. Paak, Tyler The Creator, Stromae, Orelsan, A$AP Rocky and Sexion d’Assaut were among a male-dominated bill of acts that appeared each of its four days from July 7th to 10th. With Lies Rombouts appointed Stageco’s project manager, the company was commissioned by the organisers to provide three of the event’s six stages, including the PHOENIX
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The Phoenix main stage.
STAGEC O MUIGLEB
Photography © Jean-Philippe Bonhomme; C. Dehousse; Alexis Vassiviere; Stageco Belgium
main stage which was formed of a specially reinforced 4-tower system, along with ramps, a catwalk, and two spot/delay towers.
Also supplied with spot/delay towers, the BIG EYE stage was notable for its deployment of Stageco’s new 30x15 roof, a mid-range solution that was was launched last year to satisfy a demand for greater flexibility. With its large rigging capacity, the stage’s central area – 18m x 15m for the Big Eye – can be varied in width to suit, as can the covered technical areas situated under the same roof. Stage three was the DA HOOD stage, constructed with an indoor grid made from Stageco’s 750 towers and 1400 trusses. For each of the stages, the company supplied disabled audience decks, camera platforms, a loading dock and front-of-house control risers.
Stageco was delighted to renew its association with LES ARDENTES. In total, the project required 20 trailer loads of equipment, with crew chief Paul Van Belle taking responsibility for the Phoenix and Da Hood stages, and Gilles Bosque heading the Big Eye stage crew. After an eight-day load-in, the ‘get out’ took just four days with local crew numbering up to 45 per day.
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Above: The Big Eye stage featuring Stageco’s 30x15 roof. Below: The indoor Da Hood stage.
Photography © Tobias Schildknecht
HIGHLIGHTS FROM A GERMAN SUMMER
Stageco Deutschland was in the thick of the action at a wide range of hugely popular events...
35 SHOWS AT BERLIN’S WALDBÜHNE & PARKBÜHNE WUHLHEIDE
Prior to the pandemic lockdown, Stageco Deutschland enjoyed a long history as a service provider to concert productions held in Berlin’s popular open-air locations at Waldbühne (capacity 22,000) and Parkbühne Wuhlheide (cap. 17,000). It was cause for celebration when the company finally received the go-ahead to resume activity in 2022, supplying and building a range of structures, from catwalks, B-stages to supplement permanently installed stages, and various platforms for cameras and spots.
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Green Day at Waldbühne, June 1st 2022.
Above: (top row) Waldbühne and Parkbühne Wuhlheide.
The two open-air stages have traditionally presented concerts from the rock and pop genres, as well as Schlager and classical music every year from May to September. In the post-pandemic summer of 2022, artists such as the ROLLING STONES, IRON MAIDEN, PEARL JAM, IMAGINE DRAGONS, UDO LINDENBERG, WEST-EASTERN DIVAN ORCHESTRA and ROLAND KAISER were guests at the Waldbühne, while GREEN DAY, SEEED, BEATSTEAKS and others trod the boards of Parkbühne Wuhlheide’s stage.
This year, Stageco was involved in no less than 35 shows in these locations, despite facing the challenges of post-pandemic issues such as staff shortages, short-term special requests or material requirements.
Thanks to the excellent co-operation of local event management, Stageco Deutschland’s teams were able to react flexibly to reliably solve all tasks that arose.
SUPERSTARS ON MUNICH TRADE FAIR MEGA STAGE
Throughout August 2022, Stageco Deutschland planned and delivered a stunning, 150 metre-wide stage construction for the three spectacular concerts in Munich, hosted within the grounds of the city’s exhibition centre and attracting a total audience of more than 300,000.
Kicking off on August 6th with Austrian singer ANDREAS GABALIER, the televised concert series –BAVARIA SOUNDS – continued on August 20th with HELENE FISCHER in her only German appearance of the year. Seven days later, British superstar ROBBIE WILLIAMS took to the stage to thrill the crowd at one of his largest-ever shows in the country.
Stageco created an epic scale performance landscape measuring 150 metres wide and 30 metres high. A total of 1,000 tonnes of materials were used for the building, including 70 tonnes of special parts.
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As well as the stage itself, this special design –with a gigantic video wall as its rear boundary –required maximum creativity when it came to impact technique. The video screens were brought into position by deflected steel cables anchored in the ground instead of traditional roof-mounted chain hoists. Also, load handling devices for the screens were specially developed and manufactured in order to be able to strike them without further fasteners and, therefore, gain height.
Another special feature was the 40 metre wide, five metre deep bridge onstage which served as weather protection and as a performance area for the musicians.
In order to correspond to the individual show concepts of the three headlining artists, some conversions and changes in the stage design were necessary between the respective performances. These included bespoke iterations of the catwalk leading out to the audience. A compelling concert experience was also ensured by 18 individual Stageco towers that were deployed for audio delays, spots and video technology.
BAVARIA SOUNDS 2022 was promoted by Klaus Leutgeb of Leutgeb Entertainment Group and production managed by Howard Hopkins.
From pop to rock to punk, from STING to PATTI SMITH, the bill of artists at the CITADEL MUSIC FESTIVAL was once again musically diverse this year.
Taking place annually from May to September in the westernmost Berlin borough of Spandau, was again musically diverse in 2022. For 14 years now, Stageco Deutschland has built its staging in the Zitadelle Spandau, a historic fortress that is considered one of the most beautiful locations in Berlin.
The big challenge lies in the event’s logistics –trucks are not allowed to drive into this classic
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Left: Bavaria Sounds 2022
Photography © Mike Auerbach; Brina Vanray; Daniel Scharinger
Renaissance-period building. This is why Stageco’s trailers are unloaded in front of the fortress, after which the stage equipment has to be reloaded on to 7.5-tonne trucks that are driven into the citadel’s impressive inner courtyard, where the stage is prepared for live performance.
Berlin promoter Goodlive welcomed 50,000 visitors to the very first edition of its SUPERBLOOM festival on 3rd-4th September in Munich where Stageco Deutschland built the main stage in the Olympic Stadium, deploying a classic 4-tower construction.
Alongside its musical programme, which featured ANNENMAYKANTEREIT (AMK), KRAFTKLUB, MEGAN THEE STALLION, CALVIN HARRIS, DAVID GUETTA, STROMAE, ALAN WALKER and RITA ORA, SUPERBLOOM also presented a musical programme but also an ambitious mixture of art, circus, fashion and science.
After their enforced two-year break, DIE ÄRZTE completed a spring tour of Berlin clubs before touring Germany, Austria and Switzerland from June to September 2022. As part of their Buffalo Bill In Rome tour, the self-proclaimed “Best Band in the World”
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Above: Citadel Music Festival. Below: Superbloom
© Michael Herbst; Thomas Spindler; Fabian Stoffers; Philipp Kratzer
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Die Ärzte on their Buffalo Bill In Rome tour.
Photography © Ralph Larmann; Torsten Friedrich
was supported by Stageco Deutschland, whose crews set up their 4-tower, 3-tower and 29 x 14 stage systems in 11 cities.
This ÄRZTE tour was a complex project in terms of planning due to the different circumstances of the respective venues in terms of size and terrain. For example, band (founded in 1982) performed in Thun at Stockhorn Arena, in Bayreuth on the Volksfestplatz and in Erfurt in the middle of the city on the Domplatz.
In some cities, the stages were used for additional concerts by Die Toten Hosen, Udo Lindenberg, Clueso and Roland Kaiser. The advance technical planning for these took into account all of the necessary stage conversions required during downtime.
The tour ended on September 17th in Saarland’s Nohfelden-Bosen am Bostalsee.
As summer reached its end, Stageco returned to the Olympic Stadium and Olympic Park in Berlin to resume work at the German LOLLAPALOOZA for its sixth consecutive edition.
For the performances by, among others, KRAFTKLUB, MACHINE GUN KELLY and TIËSTO, Stageco’s four teams set up four large stages and numerous ancillary buildings within just three days. The varied required structures included a 4-tower stage, a 3-tower stage and an arched roof stage, along with scaffolding towers, delay and spot towers, and camera platforms.
Germany’s last major outdoor event of the season, held on September 24th-25th, LOLLAPALOOZA BERLIN consumed 44 truckloads of Stageco materials, which were all handed over to production management well within the allocated three-day time frame and dismantled in 36 hours.
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Above: Lollapalooza Berlin
Photography © Mike Auerbach
Stageco Deutschland has been in place as the stage service provider for LOLLAPALOOZA since its first Berlin edition in 2015, hosted at the site of the former Tempelhof Airport. After a number of moves, the German sibling of the USA-founded festival found its current home in 2018 where, this year, the line-up also included major acts such as PAOLO NUTINI, ROBIN SCHULZ, MILKY CHANCE, SEEED, DIE FANTASTISCHEN VIER, CASPER and ANNE-MARIE.
Other events at the end of the 2022 open-air season that relied on Stageco Deutschland’s equipment, skills and services included classical concert OPERA FOR EVERYONE on September 16th in Rosenheim, and a sold-out performance at Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen on September 24th to mark the close of veteran German pop outfit PUR’s summer 2022 tour.
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Pur at Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, September 24th 2022.
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YOU CAN IMAGINE IT, WE CAN BUILD IT.
DARE TO DREAM FREE IN TWENTY-THREE
WISH YOU PEACE, LOVE, PROSPERITY AND GOOD HEALTH THROUGHOUT THE NEW YEAR 29
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Photography © IndoCrew; Stageco France; Justine_Prl7; MP_Archangel
INDOCHINE THE CENTRAL TOUR
The best selling band in French music history, with over 13 million record sales to their credit, pop-rockers INDOCHINE came out of the starting gate in 1981 when founders Nicola Sirkis, Dominique Nicolas and Dimitri Bodiansky earned their first recording contract after a brief but impressive live début in a Parisian café. Immensely popular throughout the Francophone world, with a tally of around 10 No.1 albums, the band emerged from an unstable ’90s to return with Paradize, the 2002 album that contained no less than six hit singles including the classic ‘J’ai Demandé à la Lune’. Indochine’s enviable reputation as a live touring act is legendary and over the last 12 years, Stageco has been proud to enable some of the band’s most innovative, largescale productions at venues such as the Stade de France. So when frontman Sirkis came up with a novel idea for their Central Tour, a series of six shows in the five cities of Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon and Lille, he instinctively knew where to go.
Leading the project on behalf of Stageco, Tom Bilsen recalled the initial meeting held in December 2019 where he, Sirkis, Indochine’s production director Stéphane Desch, show designer JeanChristophe Aubrée, and members of PRG and MPM Audiolight came together to discuss and debate a range of concepts, not least the singer’s brainwave.
“Nicola was inspired by the sight of a power station cooling tower that dominates the landscape on the northern side of the Brussels ringway,” said Bilsen. “This one happens to be completely fabricated with LED video tiles for creative promotional messages. It’s very hard to miss if you drive around there at night time, especially at Christmas when it really comes alive.
“I was very impressed with what Nicola had to say because it’s rare that a singer gets so involved in staging, so this instantly made the project even more interesting. He was fully committed to making the audience experience unforgettable.”
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Stageco playing a critical support role, this five-city homeland
towering success for France’s top
LIVE IN TILDONK!
On May 8th and 9th, the production underwent a full dress rehearsal as the tower was erected on Stageco soil in Tildonk where, much to the frustration of some of the local population, Indochine played two complete shows at concert sound level.
“It turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!” said Tom Bilsen. “Of course, we applied for a licence and informed the locals that something was happening, but we kept the band’s name secret. Meanwhile, the press
were informed of this impressive tower we were building and, naturally, when the band took to the stage, the surrounding area was bathed in very loud music. The press collected recordings from the street and interviewed neighbours who complained about the sound, so it attracted a lot of attention, some of it very unwanted.
“In Dutch-speaking Flanders, however, Indochine are still relatively unknown so the situation was able to be controlled but it’s not something we will be repeating any time soon!”
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From the outset, it was agreed that the 360° scenic interpretation of this tower would be the foundation for an outstanding video production, with the staging infrastructure, rigging and PA system hidden from the audience.
Bilsen: “Everything was to be contained within the tower, and below the decking, to maximise sight lines and present an immersive performance. The structure also had to be able to bear 110 tonnes of production, so this was going to be an ambitious undertaking – one that would demand tireless collaboration between all departments.”
The result of exceptional teamwork between Stageco, PRG France and PRG Projects, Indochine’s 45m high, 260 tonne tower was clad with 1850m2 of 70% transparent Titan-X LED screen (new technology designed by INFiLED and PRG), and from a legislation perspective it had to
withstand a 72km/h wind speed for three seconds. “We ended up producing something that is not too far from what Nicola imagined,” remarked Bilsen.
“At first, there was a suggestion to make this a hyperbolic design but it was going to end up prohibitively expensive. So we went for the cylindrical approach but that also wasn’t without challenges because the tower’s legs pointing outwards made it impossible to build the structure as we would for a regular cylinder. Our solution was to construct each section, then pull them all the way up from the ground, one by one, and then manually roll it over a rail into position. With a screen, you would lift it and construct the first circular row on the ground, then create the next row above it, and so on. However, that rail had to be faultlessly precise to ensure that the manual rolling of these seriously heavy individual parts into place could be achieved.”
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Stageco’s Dirk Van De Goor, Bart Dekelver, Gert Hulsmans and Wim Dewolf worked together on the technical drawings, while the structural calculations were handled by Jelte Smets. The parts construction project was led in the Tildonk welding shop by Ben Peeters.
The Central Tour was originally scheduled to head out on the road during Indochine’s 40th anniversary year of 2021, but issues of a pandemic nature delayed plans by a full year. Bilsen commented: “At an early stage, we specified 21 trailers but through the careful re-design of some elements of the tower, we were able to reduce the total to 19... that’s 18 for the steel, decking and turntable, plus another for the barricades. As also had waterproofing to consider and that was another challenge all of its own.”
By October 2021, when Stageco’s Tildonk HQ hosted its first technical test build of the structure, essentially to check the impact of hiding the PA speaker hangs behind the video screen, the team had become familiar with the intense construction and tear-down patterns, along with very occasional requests for changes.
Bilsen appointed Patrik Vonckx crew chief, responsible for a team of 17 supervisors who quickly became accustomed to the strict week-long schedule. The project manager said: “Indochine always played their shows on Saturdays so we split each 48hour build over two shifts on the preceding Monday, adding other field items on the Wednesday such as camera platforms. Production loaded in on Thursday, and Friday and Saturday morning was attending to setting up the last pieces of the puzzle, like barrier placement.
“Production came out overnight after the show, then between noon and midnight on Sunday, Stageco loaded out and our trailers drove to the next venue to start the process all over again on the Monday morning. It all went like clockwork.”
The short tour ended with two dates at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, on July 2nd and 3rd, prior to which it was decided to conduct an extensive, 22-camera shoot of Indochine’s Groupama Stadium show in Lyon on June 25th. The world’s very first live concert filmed entirely for IMAX, it will show in dedicated IMAX cinemas from November 24th 2022.
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Parookaville AUTUMN/WINTER 2022 STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Photography © Stageco Nederland and associated promoters
ALL SYSTEMS GO IN THE HECTIC HEATWAVE
Summarising an unusual outdoor season for the team at Stageco Nederland
Between the Dutch Open (one of the oldest golf tournaments of the European Tour) and the annual Koningsdag events in April, and the Mysteryland dance gathering as well as the Dutch Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Zandvoort at the end of the summer, Stageco Nederland worked on an exciting range of major outdoor shows and festivals.
The highlights included building local stages for some of rock’n’roll’s biggest names, among them THE ROLLING STONES, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, GUNS N’ROSES and GREEN DAY. Classic Dutch festivals such as Lowlands, Down The Rabbit Hole, Defqon and North Sea Jazz returned after the Covid ‘time out’, as did Woohah Festival, Emporium, Dreamfields and Parookaville, and some new festivals like San Heijmo in Weeze in the Lower Rhine region of Germany.
This year, Stageco was involved for the first time in the Dutch Open, where the NL team built almost 5,000m2 of Layher decks at the beautiful Golfcourse Bernardus in Cromvoirt. Supplying material over the narrow roads of the golf course was made difficult because it was not possible to travel across the grass, so the deck-building came with obstacles that were negotiable, thanks to the helpful co-operation of
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the client, TIG Sports, and the greenkeepers of the 18-hole golf course.
After a break of several years, the ever-popular Sensation returned to the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam, connecting everyone with the motto ‘Celebrate Life’. With its spectacular show elements, dazzling performances, the
best house music, talented DJs and massive production values, Sensation is all about the audience experience.
When the Stones’ June 13th Sixty tour date at the Cruijff ArenA had to be rescheduled to July 7th – due to Mick Jagger testing positive for Covid – it posed a significant challenge for the Stageco Nederland team as it came just five days
The Dutch Open Defqon
Red Hot Chili Peppers
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Down The Rabbit Hole
San Hejmo... a new festival for 2022.
after Sensation. This resulted in a logistical whirl involving an extremely short load-out and a lightning-fast Stones loadin, large crew numbers (including the input of Stageco NL director Dennis De Graaf) working day and night shifts, and dozens of trailers moving through the venue.
Stageco NL project manager Michel Wiefferink summarised the season: “It was a hectic summer, to put it mildly, especially at the peak of the season in July. It was still unclear in February whether or not we would be able to go back to work, and then suddenly the whole event industry exploded. Our biggest problems were all about finding enough high quality crew because many freelancers had begun different jobs during the pandemic, but we managed to get the jobs done in good time.
“The summer of 2022 is one we will not forget in a hurry. It was thanks to our team and the available freelancers that we achieved such great results all round, so consider this a big shout out to them!”
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Sensation. (Above: the load-in.)
The Rolling Stones at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff ArenA.
Guns N’Roses at the Stadspark Groningen.
When Stageco last toured at length with COLDPLAY, we all inhabited a very different world. It was mid-November 2017 when A Head Full Of Dreams played its final show of a 19-month trek around the planet and it was expected that a tour of similar proportions would follow their next album, 2019’s Everyday Life. As frontman Chris Martin announced, however, the ecominded Coldplay now refused to entertain any notion of a world tour until they had addressed concerns regarding travel and the environmental impact of their shows. Then, just a few months later, Covid-19 happened.
While the live industry was at a standstill, Coldplay’s internal research and discussions continued with the aim of identifying solutions by the time it was possible to tour once again.
Upon releasing their ninth studio album, the ‘Star Wars’-inspired Music Of The Spheres, the band stated that they had met the goals
is a creative and commercial triumph, and yet another win for the band’s production partner, Stageco...
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Photography © Misty Buckley Design; Coldplay.com; Stageco Belgium
“A powerful mix of art and science set the bar for what arena tours of the future could – and should – look like...” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
“This was a genuinely immersive experience...” THE GUARDIAN
“Coldplay have managed the feat of offering one of the most beautiful concerts of the year by changing the rules of the game...” VIRGIN RADIO
masters of stadium entertainment...” DAILY TELEGRAPH
STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS AUTUMN/WINTER 2022
“A joyous, bright, cathartic post-pandemic triumph...” SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
required to launch an accompanying world tour that was guided by three key principles: “Reduce, reinvent and restore.” They explained: “We are adapting all tour operations to minimise CO2 emissions in line with the best science and practices from set build and travel to freight, power, and sound. The tour will plant one tree for every ticket sold with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for a variety of green initiatives around the world.”
Ongoing until at least July 2023, the MUSIC OF THE SPHERES WORLD TOUR was designed by Misty Buckley and is helmed by the famously unflappable Jake Berry, who took over the production
directorship from Bill Leabody just seven weeks before the opening date and inherited the latter’s choice of vendors. “I wasn’t concerned about any of the suppliers because Bill knows his game back to front but I certainly had a very small timeframe in which to play catch up,” said the man who has wrangled some of the biggest tours of the last 30 years, many of them with Stageco as a first-call partner.
The focus of a significant engineering effort, four separate systems have been devised by Stageco for what is one of today’s few genuinely extensive world tours. Two systems have travelled around Europe while, to avoid shipping across
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the Atlantic, the other two have been based in the United States. Each system is contained within 15 trucks and includes the materials to build each iconic part of the scenery, including the stunning Moonrise Arch. Appearing behind the band, this very specific item relies on Stageco’s own distinctive scaffolding equipment.
On-site, Stageco’s crew –headed by Johan ‘Bellekes’
Van Espen, Stefaan Van Den Bossche and, in America only, Marco Pieter Van De Panne –build a 50m upstage arc, two 23m high, 12-tonne ‘pylons’ at left and right to support video screens, and a pair of custom sound towers, each with a large cantilever, that were designed in collaboration with Coldplay’s head of audio.
Stageco’s project manager Dirk De Decker commented: “It’s a 72-hour steel build for
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us [with a single day load-out]. All of the elements we are constructing are unconnected. No individual element depends on another, so if you encounter a problem with a pylon, for example, your team can continue working on another of the items. This makes things very smooth and offers us a lot of practical flexibility.”
A special live broadcast from Coldplay’s run of 10 full-capacity shows at Buenos Aires’ River Plate Stadium will be shown in thousands of cinemas across more than 70 countries from October 28th-29th. It will be directed by acclaimed BAFTA-winning and Grammynominated director Paul Dugdale. coldplay.com coldplaycinema.live
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A collaboration between BMW and COLDPLAY has resulted in the world’s first ever mobile, rechargeable show battery, as deployed on MUSIC OF THE SPHERES – a potential game-changer for the entire touring industry. The storage technology for the power supply during the live performances is provided by more than 40 partly-recycled BMW i3 batteries which, together, provide super low emission electric power and replace diesel and petrol generators.
This new power cell (pictured below) is recharged using a range of renewable sources including photovoltaic (PV) solar panel installations, a kinetic stadium floor, power bikes and generators powered by hydro-treated vegetable oil. The kinetic floor and the power bikes harness the collective power (dancing and riding) generated by the fans themselves. Along with reduced trucking and less impactful technologies, the result is a significant reduction of the carbon footprint of all the band’s live performances.
Owing to it playing to an estimated 2.2 million fans, Many believe that the most profound impact of the tour will be greater awareness of crucial environmental issues. Jake Berry commented: “Coldplay are definitely inspiring people to think more about how they tour. We don’t have all the answers, but they are trying. In some cases, Coldplay’s thinking is way ahead of what the infrastructure can handle.”
Stageco’s Dirk De Decker, for one, applauds Coldplay’s efforts toward creating a greater awareness of climate change.
“Logistically, it’s been a major operation as we have planned the most eco-friendly routes for supplying our equipment in all territories,” he said. “Jake’s production team assess which local services can be called upon to meet the design’s requirements and we provide the remaining custom elements that, because of the nature of the design, are irreplaceable.”
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“WE WANTED TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLYMINDED TOUR THAT WAS ALSO GOING TO TRANSPORT THE AUDIENCE TO A PLACE OF PURE JOY, LOVE, AND OTHERWORLDLINESS.” production designer
NEW CLIENTS = NEW CHALLENGES
Located in Kinrooi, close to the Dutch border in the far north-east of the province of Limburg, Bastionfestival (pictured above) offers a family weekend of high-spirited activities as well as great music. For its third edition, on August 13th-14th, the performers included Awful Age, Daredevils, Les Truttes, Ilsen & Verhulst, The Ketnet Band, Niels Destadsbader, The Moaners and The Dirty Daddies, and Stageco’s part in the production arose from a professional recommendation.
“We worked with Luc Peumans from lighting contractor Painting With Light who introduced
us to the organiser, his business colleague Jeroen Opsteyn,” explained project manager Lies Rombouts.
“It’s a nice, compact festival and we threw everything at it to ensure it was the best it could be. They were already aware of their need for a slightly larger stage and we were warned from the start that this very sandy site – notable for its dunes – was prone to very high winds, and this came with risks to the stability of the infrastructure. “Fortunately, Stageco can rely on its wealth of experience in situations such as this, and our stages are all able to
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Bastionfestival, Wild In ’t Park and Hopduvelfeesten became welcome additions to Stageco Belgium’s roster of outdoor event clients in 2022...
STAGEC O MUIGLEB
Photography © courtesy of Jeroen Opsteyn for Bastionfestival; GC De Wildeman
withstand wind speeds of up to 72km per hour, so we were more than happy to bring our ‘A-game’ to Kinrooi!”
The stage delivered and built by Stageco Belgium was 16 x 8 model, fitted with a wind-breaking rear cover and weighed down with extra ballast. Also supplied within the three-trailer package was a DJ tower, an event entrance structure, a stage ramp and a two-level front of house riser. These were all built over two days (August 9th-10th) by a crew numbering up to 13, led by Gilles Bosque.
WILD IN ’T PARK
Three months earlier, 13 crew and two trailers descended upon Wild in ’t Park in Herent, one of Belgium’s first outdoor festivals of the year (May 5th-8th), set in a municipality located between Leuven and Stageco Belgium’s Tildonk operation.
Featuring another 16 x 8 stage with rear cover, the Stageco package was similar in scale and content to that provided for Bastionfestival While Lies Rombouts co-ordinated Stageco’s responsibilities from the office, Sandro Saiu led 13 crew, among them a number of new recruits being mentored by Saiu as they gained their first on-the-ground experience.
The crew chief also liaised on-site with Pieter Taccoen of promoter GC De Wildeman to overcome a few logistical issues to deliver a successful weekend that included live sets from British ska icons The Selecter, along with Clement Peerens Explosion, Compact Disk Dummies, Robert Jon & The Wreck and many others.
Held every two years, Hopduvelfeesten is the peak of a long summer season that conjures up sporadic happenings and spectacles throughout the town
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Wild in ‘t Park.
of Asse. Organised by a group of local volunteers engaged by the Hopduvelcomité, the festival itself is noted for its grand opening ceremonies, at which the Hopduvel (Hop Devil) is traditionally hoisted into the air in a cage that floats above the stage.
In 2022, that stage, a 25 x 10 structure, was provided by Stageco Belgium for the first time in the festival’s long and colourful history.
The Hopduvel is a reference to the summer storms that once lashed the fields and caused crops to fail. The symbolic burning at the end of the festivities is intended to chase away the Hopduvel so it will spare the harvest. The first Hopduvel carnival took place in 1956 and, by the mid-’80s, a festival with live music as its focus had evolved to cater for a widerº audience. Its opening ceremony this year also included a stunning acrobatic display with airborne artists suspended from six 12m high towers
built by the Stageco team, managed by Seb Kotsch.
Stageco Belgium’s four trucks were packed with materials for a 6 x 4 FOH riser on two levels, a disabled audience deck and a 20 x 6 covered double-floor VIP deck with an integral bar, and a crane was also provided to aid construction. A three-day build, the project ended with a two-day load-out requiring two shifts of 15 crew.
“The great thing about working with smaller festivals such as these is that we get to watch them grow and become part of that journey, so we really look forward to our associations with them in 2023 and beyond,” added Lies Rombouts. bastionfestival.be wildintpark.be hopduvel.be
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Photography © courtesy of Hopduvelcomité
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UNDER WEMBLEY’S ARCH
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Photography © Wembley Stadium; Stageco Belgium
As a project manager, the first major shows helmed by Stageco’s Roel Voeten since the Covid pandemic were hosted in June at London’s Wembley Stadium, where the industry leader supplied and constructed a Superroof with a cantilevered header for Capital FM’s annual SUMMERTIME BALL and a pair of highprofile HARRY STYLES concerts.
Nineteen trailer loads of Stageco equipment, comprising 190 tonnes of steel, ballast and skins for the roof and wings, and 60 tonnes of scaffolding, were loaded in over three days by two teams – one led by Bart Dewolf, the other briefed by Stefaan Angillis whose colleague Tim Praet took the lead onsite.
Load-out was carried out by the same teams in less than 24 hours, while Ed Sheeran’s crew began their production build in the centre of the pitch. “I have nothing but huge admiration for these guys,” said Voeten. “Both teams did a fantastic job and I was really impressed with the way the newer members of our crew handled this unique roof for the first time.”
After starring at the June 12th Capital FM event with ED SHEERAN, DAVID GUETTA, KSI, AITCH and ANNEMARIE, HARRY STYLES (insets) returned to Wembley on June 18th-19th as part of his sold-out Love On Tour itinerary.
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