Stones Production: ‘18 Hours To Pull It Down’

Rolling Stones No Filter Tour
– Rolling Stones No Filter Tour

Rolling Stones production manager Dale “Opie” Skjerseth worked with what he describes as his “A Team”: creative director Patrick Woodroffe and set designer Ray Winkler from Stufish Entertainment Architects, with Jeremy Lloyd of Wonder Works coordinating the technical design elements and working with Stageco’s project manager Hedwig De Meyer and R&D engineers Tom Frederickx, Patrick Martens and Kai Eppinger. Kevin De Meyer managed one of Stageco’s two outdoor crews, Stefaan Vandenbosch led the other.

The result: four monolithic LED video screens (22 meters high and 11 meters wide), spread more than 60-metres wide behind a 28 meters-long T-shaped catwalk and B-stage, and a bespoke, cantilevered, transparent roof hovering over the band.

The roof, which comes with its own drainage system to cope with rainy conditions was developed and fabricated by Belgian engineering company Wicreations. Founder Hans Willems said: “Hedwig [De Meyer] and I went to the first meeting together, and advised on aspects of the design. There are only 14 shows in 12 cities, which is now fairly typical of the band’s current touring pattern compared with the very long schedules of 10 years ago or more, and so because of Stageco’s widespread commitments throughout the summer, we looked at what we could achieve in collaboration with each other.”

It had been the band’s wish to keep the production “tidy and streamlined” with “sleek contours but absolutely no hint of behind-the-scenes steelwork,” according to Stageco.

Stageco’s Stefaan Vandenbosch said, “Each system fills 17 trucks. Working with our own team of 14 along with 15 local climbers and 15 stage hands, it takes two-and-a-half days to load in with six forklifts and a pair of cranes, and we are averaging about 18 hours to pull it all down and put back into the trucks to head to the next venue.

 “The roof travels with us and we build it for each show, along with our towers, pulley beams, lifting cables and the trussing support system for the video screens, while the wind bracing system and motion control hoists [connected to the black steel base of the towers] are provided by Wicreations. The way the screens are rigged means that any wind pressure on them is borne by their supporting steel towers. Personally, I love the 3D effect of the screens – they give the impression that the band are playing in front of four tall buildings,” Vandenbosch continued.

Stageco handled all the scaffolding and stage decking requirements, and also supplied and built the spot/delay towers, platforms and covered front of house risers. “For this tour, lighting/video control and sound each had their own riser,” the company pointed out. 

Rolling Stones No Filter
– Rolling Stones No Filter

Design coordinator Lloyd said, “all around, it was a great collaboration. We didn’t spend a lot of time in meetings. A lot of it is about trust and knowing what can be done in the time. Because I know these people, I know what we can do.”