Inside the Amish town that builds U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift’s live shows

9 January 2018DesignMusicTechnology

Stephen Armstrong, writing for WIRED, gives an intriguing glimpse into the company at the forefront of live show set design:

It’s always a difficult moment for designers such as Lipson and Williams when rock stars doodle their concepts for stage shows. To get a stadium tour from notion to opening night costs tens of millions. Thousands of people are needed to design, build, assemble, market and sell the show. The technology involved often doesn’t exist yet.

In this case, at first, the set design looked simple – a 61-metre-wide, 14-metre-high 8K LED video screen painted gold with a silhouette of a Joshua tree picked out in silver. During the second half of the show, the screen would show epic high-definition American landscapes shot by photographer and director Anton Corbijn. There would also be a tree-shaped catwalk and satellite stage extending into the audience, plus steel trusses that dangled lights and speakers high above the stage.

To deliver that concept, however, required at least three world-first equipment prototypes: a video-controlled follow-spotlight that tracked performers using a CCTV system; a state-of-the-art carbon-fibre video screen (the largest and highest resolution ever used for a concert tour, with pixels just 8.5mm apart); and prototype speakers from audio specialists Clair Brothers that are so powerful, only 16 speakers are needed to flood even the largest stadium with sound.

I’m always wowed by the spectacle of the massive sets and stunning tour productions put on by big-name artists, but I had no idea that so many of them come from the same source – Tait Towers. Take a look at the company’s impressive portfolio which includes work for The Academy Awards, AC/DC, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, The London Olympics, The Rolling Stones, and many more.