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Gary Barlow – an exercise in Total restraint
UK - Much to the relief of many a discerning punter, there are some artists who simply do not need the bling that blights so many stage show these days. Gary Barlow is certainly one; his recent outing an exercise in restraint, saw him sell out 17 arenas around the United Kingdom with a presentation that was all about class and refinement.
“Before the tour we did a one-off with Gary at Westminster Hall in London where there is a curved house stage,” explained production manager Chris Vaughan. “Lighting designer Tim Routledge and I got together with Kim Gavin our show director afterwards and we all agreed, this is the style that suits Gary’s performance and we set about designing to that template for this arena tour. It’s not complex, in fact it’s very simple really, but it’s the clean look that defines the show.”
Vaughan selected Total Solutions Group (TSG) to build the stage. “I’ve used TSG before. They built the rolling stage for Take That’s first reunion tour. My history with them goes back to 2000 doing tours with Simon Fuller acts, S Club 7, Pop Idol, those sort of shows. They were the company at the time, and changes in recent years have made them an even more obvious choice for servicing a tour on this scale. They represent really good value for money and their quality of manufacturing has improved greatly over the years. Take the video flex laid into the deck boundaries; TSG have done a really nice job there, from the higher seats in the auditorium it looks absolutely beautiful, a feature not missed when we came to make a DVD of the show.
“The main stage is the same modular one used for George Michael, its fourth generation Arena Deck, with custom curves to front and rear, and some wonderful curved steps down from stage right and left. Nothing special in one sense, but it does the job and means we can roll in under the lighting rig once it’s up. Putting it together it’s not the quickest in the world, but it’s about five times cheaper than what most people consider the best. Can I afford to pay five times the money to gain maybe 20 minutes on the in? No.
More importantly, we have the bunkers each side of stage for monitors and guitars; Steve Lutley on monitors absolutely loves his. He can be completely set up in the bunker at his leisure, and then rolled into place ready to go bar a few connections. The crew love it too, we start load in at eight, the stage rolls into place around noon and we’re pretty much set; not bad for a twelve truck tour.
“The PA determines the stage; we’re playing 270 degrees so there is a lot of it up there - in fact we narrowed the design of the main stage to fit the PA, something that’s easy to do with TSG’s modular system. Now we can drop the PA straight in after the show as soon as the bunkers have been wheeled out of the way. We’ve had the entire PA system out in 45 minutes; the whole show gone in less than two hours. That’s all thanks to the design of the stage system and good packaging by all departments. This is a class act right up to the moment we close the truck doors.”
22nd May 2014
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