The current tour by Jeff Lynne’s ELO takes in twenty North American cities in just over forty days. Relatively short runs like this always present issues for production managers; cost control bears down upon production values. Chris Vaughan (CV Productions Ltd) applies a rigorous deductive rule for solving the dilemma without compromise to artistic standards.
“For world tours it doesn’t matter if you ship hardware from the country where the tour first began because eventually it will end up back there at some stage. But for this short run you need to look very closely at how you make best use of your budget. We chose to use UK vendors, Neg Earth, Video Design and Skan PA but with Skan and Video Design they came with a US twist and that made a big difference.”
The difference is in the packaging; what Vaughan was seeking was continuity and efficiency. “The rule is this: anything that takes more than three tech’ days to get fast and efficient enough to load in below the US union minimum load-in call and you need to think about sorting that before you arrive. Video and PA companies provide multiples of the same thing, LED screen modules or loudspeakers, it's the packaging and the crews that make the deal. For this tour Alex Leinster at Video Design shipped over the bespoke LED carts we use for Europe and picked up the screen hardware in the US. Skan have done something similar, they get the d&b loudspeaker system from Spectrum in Nashville. To make that work we put the system together and rehearsed the band at LH3, one of Neg Earth’s rehearsal studios in London, brought in transformers and powered it all for the US 208/110v and then shipped PA and Video front ends to the US all show ready. Lighting rigs are more complex, there are many more interchangeable parts so for that element we shipped the whole rig.”
“We’ve been doing it this way for so many years now it’s difficult to quantify how much this bespoke packaging saves in terms of time and union calls, but there is a more important point; the methodology saves your crew and prevents them getting burnt out. ELO has thirteen trucks, not so big for an arena tour, even so, on back to backs we are rolling the stage into place by 11:30 each show day, and it takes generally one and three quarter hours to load out. Look in detail at one department and, considering the sheer acreage of screen that’s deployed, the Video Design team make it all look effortless. That leaves time for polish. Jeff Lynne does an outstanding show for his fans every night, we like to deliver to his standards.”