04 June 2005
Brussels, production set-up.
Once again I didnt rush into the stadium today. Bruce was keen to get going, but I managed to talk him round from a 3pm call to a 6pm call. Progress is good, but not enough is ready yet for us to be able to achieve anything of any real value so weπll only drive everybody nuts if we hang around too long asking if were nearly there yet.
In the meantime we wandered out in search of the ultimate Croque Madame, which is always a good late brekky option in these parts. Found a couple of nice cafes which fitted the bill, though one of them rather eccentrically served their coffee and tea accompanied by a shot glass of chocolate pudding, which raised an eyebrow or two. Especially when it was commented that it was curious to serve beverages with a stool sample and wondered if it was the waitresss own, but thats really not a train of thought to follow at this hour of the day. Or any hour of the day, for that matter.
Back at the stadium, things were shaping up nicely and the character of the new production is beginning to become visible. As ever, I walked in to face a barrage of questions about things which clearly werent going to work as erected first time, so I took a while to sit and look at the whole structure and let it tell me what it wants to be. There are trusses of lights above the P.A. which are not going to fit at all comfortably and in any case have lost some of their primary function given the recent change in the whole b-stage structure. There is also a run of strobes and lights along each stage wing which have been built about two metres taller than Id imagined due to a verbal misunderstanding (you wanted then level with what?). I might also lose a couple of followspots each side, which seems a little radical but I honestly donπt think Iπll get much use out of them. It will save a good deal of money over the run of the tour which will a) gain us lots of Brownie points and b) give us ammunition for spending a little more on things like the P.A. fascia which clearly need some attention.
We had dinner in catering and waited for it to get dark. This venue isnt too bad as its going to be an 11.30pm curfew so we should get a fair run in the dark. Other places, most notably the UK and Ireland shows, have curfews as early as 10.30pm which will mean its bright out for a much longer portion of the gig (i.e. most of it) but this thing looks pretty fabulous either way, so I feel ready for anything.
The stage structure feels quite compact but in a way that gives it great strength, like a reflector for the intensity of all the energy created within. It comes across as a very confident design, contained rather than sprawling, simple rather than overly fussy, thereπs something almost matter-of-fact about it that I really like and that you wouldnπt necessarily have been able to feel from the CAD drawings. (All of these adjectives of course being used in the context of stadium rock productions - in actuality this thing is vast, of absolutely monumental proportions, but it has a bold simplicity about it when compared with other shows of this scale.)
So we waited for dark then turned off all the stadium house lights to have a look at some of the toys. The lighting system is simple (again when compared to others of this scale, etc) but I have a couple of gargantuan effects which I was keen to take a look at. There are the Dominators, these giant disco lights essentially, which I have recomodified to create a stadium-wide ripple effect Then there are the Soft Suns, 50KW movie fixtures, two of which comfortably rear light the entire stadium structure and finally there are the parabolic Lightning Strikes, again movie fixtures used in films such as Perfect Storm for that cataclysmic-electrical-storm-in-high-seas feel. They are 200KW each (thats ever such a lot) and weve three of them which, when triggered simultaneously, are sure to get the undivided attention of any passing 747 pilots.
Happy with our lot we headed back to town to continue our experiments with the fine ales of Belgium. The experiment is going very well so far and we looked upon our 4.30am return to the hotel as good training for the long nights of programming ahead.