Fifteen leading production and technical services companies - including Al Laith Event Services, Creative Technology, Delta Sound, EFM Event Logistics and Neumann & Müller Event Technology - supplied equipment, crew, skills, resources, expertise - and substantial energy - free of charge - to create a stunning show environment for 3 days of action-packed concerts staged at Dubai's Aviation Club.
The first night was headlined by popular singer/songwriter Ali Campbell, founder of UB40.
Set against the current backdrop of mass protests, civil unrest, violence, military offensives and the desire for political change in key areas of the Middle East, a resonance and urgency was added to the values embraced by Peace One Day (www.peaceoneday.org) and the importance of boosting public awareness of its goals.
The concept for the Concerts - which also lined up a host of local talent including Juliana Down, Absolace, The Brownies, Maplejacks, The Shine, and many others - was germinated by Jo Marshall from Al Laith Event Services, who is a passionate supporter of Peace One Day.
Timing wise, he thought it would be ideal to stage the first night Concert alongside the annual EFM Party, a social and networking event with some serious gravitas hosted by the international freighting and logistics specialist, EFM. This has evolved into a bit of a phenomenon, becoming a must-go destination for the movers-and-shakers of the region's busy event industry.
Marshall states, "We have a reputation for staging world class events here in the UAE and neighbouring countries, so this seemed an ideal opportunity to help raise the profile of a great cause, in the process showcasing the premium standards and quality of work that companies and individuals based here can produce".
Marshall initially shared the idea with Mike Llewellyn, Group Managing Director at EFM who was equally as enthusiastic. A list of EFM's top clients was drawn up, which included Al Laith and the 3 other main sponsors plus several others, who were asked if they wanted to get involved. Marshall was "Really impressed" by the response. "Absolutely everyone was up for it!" he reports.
From there a truly remarkable, almost magical, synergy developed, which spread infectiously to other service companies and production suppliers, getting the ball rolling and a buzz in the air.
Marshall particularly wanted to emphasise the single technical discipline expertise and knowledge available in the UAE. In addition to Al Laith (staging, structures and production infrastructure), soon confirmed were Delta Sound (audio), CT (video) and Neumann & Müller (lighting). HQ Creative came onboard to handle production management, with a team led by Nadine Manning, plus 9 other sponsors, who contributed backline (Musician's Warehouse), furniture (Harlequin), draping, dressing & starcloths (Showtex), crewing (Gulf Crewing), site power and distribution (Gulf Show Power), branding & printing (Prolab), etc. Artist booking and liaison was handled by The Aviation Club.
The Concert broke new ground in being the first ever such event in Dubai, and the largest show ever to be staged at The Aviation Club, with the biggest and most sophisticated array of production equipment.
It involved some intense logistics, imagination, foresight, hard work and collective energy to produce a truly unique event. Such was the success, reception and reactions, that plans are already being formulated to make it an annual landmark.
"It is the most enjoyable project I've ever worked on" said Marshall after the first night - a feeling echoed by all who helped make it happen, together with hugely positive feedback from the public and those who attended and enjoyed.
Staging & Structures
Al Laith team was headed by Ross Cameron. Their biggest logistical challenge was that there was absolutely no spare space on site, so each truckload of equipment (up to 6 a day for a week) had to contain exactly the right kit for the next stage of the build process. Each stage had to be rigorously completed before the elements needed for the next could be parked up and offloaded.
The stage and dancefloor area immediately in front of it was constructed over an artificial pond and water feature, with a rocky edge, so all the decking - standard steel cup-lock - had to be customised to deal with the uneven topography and the kidney shape of the platform that maximised the space. They also had to be respectful of the environment which is home to a colony of terrapins and ducks!
A 3-bay 20 metre wide Space Roof was installed, a tricky operation due to the restricted space, but achieved in 2 days with the help of an 160 tonne crane from Johnson's. The long reach crane was necessary as it could not be positioned conveniently close to lift the roof over the stage due to the pond!
Cameron and his 40 Al Laith crew which included 8 climbers led by Simon Carr also erected a 3 storey FOH tower and a 7 metre high projection platform beside it, to house 2 x Christie 20K projectors used to screen the pre-show Peace One Day video.
They positioned one of Al Laith Site Services' Flatpack portable cabins just off the stage left ramp, which is an efficient 8-person lift and was assembled in under 5 minutes, in which CT set up Video Central.
Another four cabins were supplied for the production office, artist dressing rooms and green room zone, along with a 3 x 3 metre air conditioned 'chill tent'. Al Laith worked alongside 12 members of Gulf Crewing.
Neumann & Müller brought in Nick Jevons from the UK as 'production visuals designer'.
Jevons was given a blank canvas and a kit list as his starting points, from which he designed a fabulous looking rig - also including video elements - to cater for all the artists.
He had 55 moving lights at his disposal - a mix of Vari*Lite 3000 Spots, Martin MAC 700 Washes and Profiles and A&O 4K Falcon Beams. Also on the rig were 4-lites, Atomic Strobes and 16 bars of 6 PARs, all of which was arranged on 3 overhead straight trusses and 2 raked side trusses sub hung from the Space Roof.
His aim was to get lights in positions for good overall stage coverage and to create an interesting looking back wall, which also included 9 columns of white Stealth screen from CT.
The back wall lights were arranged on a series of trusses hung below one other, giving a tasty looking multi-level upstage lighting feature adding depth and elegance to the picture. The lighting fixtures were interspersed in between the Stealth columns which could be broken up and used in sections - simple and effective, giving a big, dynamic rock 'n' roll feel and a great visual fluidity to the space.
For control, Jevons used an Avolites Pearl Expert with a touch wing. Utilising the wing to do all his palettes, patching, pre-set focuses and programming freed up the main console for all the memories, making the whole process quick and straightforward,
A Martin Maxedia media server - operated in stand-alone mode - was supplied by Neumann & Müller to play out content to the Stealth, featuring special clips and footage created for the event by Jevons. This enabled each song to have a distinct look, feel colouration and character of its own.
Two follow spots were supplied as part of the lighting package. Apart from producing spectacular looking effects and plentiful eye-candy moments, all performers were perfectly key lit and toned for the video shoot, which will be edited for a DVD.
Jevons, who has worked on several major projects in the UAE comments, "This was a very special event with an amazing atmosphere and lots of nice people who really know their stuff. It was a real honour to be part of it".
Drapes & Dressing
The LED animation starcloths supplied by Showtex filled the inside stage left and right sides, adding a stylish finishing touch that ensured there were no 'black voids' for the cameras. With 30 individually controllable LEDs per square metre, these can be pixel mapped and driven by any media server. In this case it was an Arkaos system operated by one of the Showtex crew.
Showtex also supplied 300 metres of truss sleeves, tailor made from a special knit black trevira which stretches over various diameter trusses. Ribs at regular intervals help diffuse light from truss warmers along the length of the trussing span.
The kabuki was made from a white polystretch material, which is ideal for projection. It was tensioned and anchored by 8 electric kabuki points which were released together, pinging it rapidly and spectacularly into the centre of the stage mouth, from where it dropped neatly to the floor just clear of the front edge of the stage.
The ingenious snow/foam effect that dressed the risers was created from Alushape mouldable fabric, which comes in a roll and is scrunched up to produce a cotton wool like effect which can be shaped to anything and takes light beautifully.
Finally, Showtex installed three 3.5 x 2.5 metre back lit Peace One Day internally lit branding cubes out in the audience area. The printed fabric is fitted into the frames via a push system needing no tools, and the cube's profile is angled at 45 degrees to avoid shadows being cast onto the fascias by the lighting fixtures.
In addition to the onstage Stealth screen, CT supplied 2 side screens made up from Lighthouse R7 surface, each measuring 6 panels wide by 5 high, and these were used for a 3-camera IMAG mix, directed by Eduardo Ferrari. he used a GV Kayak mixer/switcher stationed in the stage left portable cabin.
They also supplied the 2 x Christie 20K HD projectors for FOH projection onto a stretched white Showtex kabuki which was jettisoned at the end of the Peace One Day showreel as Campbell and his band took to the stage. They performed a stonking set that energised the audience with numerous UB40 classics and crowd-pleasers.
All things video were connected via a site-wide fibre system. An 103 inch plasma screen was installed in a central location on the adjacent Aviation Club pool deck where the EFM party was rocking. This showed a TX relay of the performance to amassed revellers.
Once Ali Campbell's set finished, the side screens were used to relay the Champions League football for the many Concert goers who decided to party on at the Irish Village for the rest of the evening.
CT's Damien McGurn says, "This was a brilliant event for many reasons. Apart from Peace One Day being so NOW and relevant, it broke new ground staging a large and fabulous looking and sounding show at this venue".
Delta Sound are one of the best known audio specialists in the Middle East and they supplied an L-Acoustics sound system which was designed by Rob Eatock.
The main left and right hangs were flown just inside the Space Roof, comprising 8 V-DOSC elements each with 3 dv-DOSC downs. Eatock commented on how easy it was to fly the arrays off the Space Roof.
The front fills were two stacks of 3 x dv's, with another 2 stacks of 3 dvs for outfills, complete with 6 x SB218 subs per side, ground stacked, for a nice big, bold bottom end.
The FOH desk was an Avid Profile, which was specified by Ali Campbell's engineer Dan Bartley, on which he took advantage of all the onboard processing and effects. A Yamaha PM 5D was used for monitors, mixed by Carl Rosamond for Ali Campbell and Delta's Rob Turner for all the other bands.
The monitors supplied were 12 x Audio Analysts FR12 wedges, together with L-Acoustics ARCS side fills, with Campbell and band bringing their own Sennheiser IEM and wireless mic systems. For all the others, Delta supplied a standard mics-and-stands package with an assortment from all the leading brands. Campbell was backed by a 10 piece band.
A major challenge for sound - apart from having to trim a few trees to clear the speaker lines - was to ensure that everyone at the EFM Party across to stage right, also had full sonic enjoyment of the show whilst still being able to hold an audible conversation - a task achieved with considerable flair, judicious focusing and fine-tuning of the system.
Andy Jackson, MD of Delta Sound UAE shared the positive post show vibes, saying "It was an absolute pleasure to be associated with such a fantastic evening, and work with so many motivated people, all focussed on providing the great production values for which we are known".
The EFM Party started as a largely local affair 4 years ago, and right from the off was such a success that it quickly became an annual event industry milestone. This year it took a quantum leap forward in conjunction with the Concert in support of Peace One Day. Being on the international guest list became a red hot ticket in town as people clamoured to enjoy superlative hospitality and a great evening's entertainment in the very pleasant environs of the pool deck right next door to the stage.
EFM Director Lisa Ryan says, "The Concert was a great boost to the profile of the EFM Party, and a brilliant idea with much future potential . We were all delighted to be a sponsor and offer our guests the opportunity to enjoy the Ali Campbell show - which looked and sounded amazing - as a part of a memorable evening".
EFM's Mike Llewellyn stated, "There is little more I can add to the fantastically positive response to this event, other than to say that each and every one of the sponsors and crew has done themselves proud".
Apart from being a major success, The Concert brought a fresh, invigorating and different impetus to the UAE production scene. The atmosphere was incredible and there were many happy, smiley people at the end of it, not least Jo Marshall.
He summates, "The teamwork was outstanding. While everyone concentrated on making their own dedicated areas work, when needed, they also pitched in and helped one another, all of which made the production run like a dream. Everyone's had a great time .... and we now have a solid foundation on which to build future Peace One Day live events in the UAE".
While the co-operation, spirit and harmony between all the companies, individuals and departments was an invigorating shared professional and personal experience, it has also helped put the principals and aspirations of the Peace One Day organisation in front of several thousand new and potential supporters.
For more press info., please contact Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888 or Email ‘[email protected]'.