The 2016 Beyoncé concert tour was staged on a platform equipped with a giant revolving 3D volume for the live projection of images. World leader in touring concert stages Stageco engaged TCS to jointly develop this daring first for the events business.
The giant revolving Beyoncé stage
The development of a touring concert stage is a challenge quite unlike normal steel construction. Dirk De Decker of Stageco elaborates: “While normal steel structures are assembled just once, these concert stages are being set up and dismantled several times during a tour. Assembly should be very easy to allow quick and safe setting-up by riggers who may lack specialised steel construction skills. This requires a modular design and extensive standardisation of the parts.”
The most impressive stages that are tailor-made for superstar concert tours present various additional challenges. “These stages have unique designs and are technically very complex, but setting-up and transportation should be almost as easy as with any standard stage,” says De Decker. “So it’s essential to modularise the structure and develop smart tailor-made solutions for setting-up and dismantling. And then there’s the logistical challenge. Bear in mind that we should be able to set up, dismantle and transport stages even while the show is running in a particular stadium. This requires us to build several complete identical sets of a given stage. And the components of these sets should be seamlessly interchangeable. This means that tolerances are extremely tight - the steelwork should be precise to the millimetre.”
A wild idea?
And then the management of superstar pop acts sometimes come up with the wildest ideas, as the Beyoncé tour designers did in December 2015. “We were called in for this true novelty,” says De Decker. “The idea was a stage with a giant revolving 3D volume for the live projection of images. Imagine a 20.4-metre high volume with a 19 x 9.6-metre base that would be able to turn around and at times be split in two. This kind of equipment may exist in large theatres and opera houses, but not on this scale and certainly not as a mobile structure that can be easily taken down, transported and set up somewhere else. I must say we initially thought of turning down the commission, but then we contacted TCS.”
Combined engineering expertise
That was a breakthrough. De Decker: “Our engineers had a number of meetings with the TCS engineering team and they decided that together we could do it. Of crucial importance was TCS’s expertise in crane technology, including the required electro-mechanical components and rail infrastructure for the axial and longitudinal motion. They figured out a way to modularise these components, and together we developed a detailed design compatible with our standard stage construction concept. Our combined engineering expertise did the job.”
We had only about three months, which is very short notice for such a daring venture
Ready in time for the first concert
Things had to move fast though. “We accepted the commission in mid-January and the first concert of a series of forty were planned to take place at the end of April 2016, so we had only about three months, which is very short notice for such a daring venture. It was also a very large structure, requiring 75 trucks to transport it and 60 people just to set it up.”
By March 2016, the first stage set had been completed and a test setup had been carried out in the steel workshop. “All the parts were manufactured with utter precision and any deviation was kept as low as 1 or 2 millimetres, which is well below the specified tolerance limits. The tests also confirmed that the entire structure can be assembled within just a few days. Amazing? I never had any doubts.”
Beyoncé’s The Formation World Tour from April to August 2016 and was a huge success.
Stageco is a world leader in the supply of concert tour stage infrastructure. The company was founded in 1985 as a spin-off of the famous Rock Werchter Festival in Belgium. Stageco acquired an international reputation with the design and construction of tour stages for Genesis, Guns ‘n Roses, Metallica, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, U2 and many more. They supply both standard and custom-made mobile stages, using their registered construction system called Steel Tower System.