Robbie Williams prepared for the launch of his new album, Intensive Care, on Sunday, October 16, with a special one-off gig at Berlin’s 8,000-person capacity Velodrome, complete with production rigging by Summit Steel.
The live show was beamed to over 20,000 fans across Europe via high-definition cinecast to select cinemas. It was also recorded for a TV show to be screened the night preceding the album launch.
Jon Bray led the Summit team in Berlin, which consisted of five UK riggers plus up to nine local riggers. The load-in commenced on the Monday before the Sunday night show.
The show involved the maximum allowable load in the venue–50 tons– comprising various elements of production lighting, sound, and set. The hoist count was 180, and three trucks were needed just to transport the rigging to site.
The show’s lighting was designed by Al Gurdon. Much of Summit’s work involved various aspects of this department. In addition to an extensive rig over the main stage area, there was a large circular rig over the central ‘B’ stage in the auditorium.
Summit supplied all of the show’s hoists and lifting gear plus most of the trussing, with main lighting contractors PRG supplying the bulk of their lighting truss-work. Sound was supplied by Britannia Row. Summit worked closely with lighting, sound, set designers Studio Fish (Ray Winkler), and constructors Steel Monkey from the outset to produce an overall show rigging plot that catered for the needs of all departments.
The Velodrome is a circular building with a fixed cycle track. It was a challenging environment in which to stage a live show, but ideal for the DVD shoot¬–the major reason it was selected for the occasion.
The show’s backdrop was one of the most exacting elements to rig. It was an elegant upstage arc made up of 15 curved large metal panels known as tusks. An imposing 11m x 3m, the tusks alone weighed over 10 tons. The tusks were fitted with nearly 5,000 6W RGB LED units, which acted as a low-resolution video screen.
Correct positioning of the tusks was vital, with the 15 individual pieces having to form a smooth curve and hang at the correct angle. Summit installed a 28-point mother grid specifically to hang these in the exact positions. A bridled pickup with adjustable legs was used to allow the hanging angle to be trimmed.
Summit’s custom designed hoists controllers came into their own for lifting two separate truss grids each with 30 points. The combination of linked power, emergency stop circuits and ‘load-lights’ to confirm electrical connections helped to make this sort of lifting operation as safe as possible.
“With a show on this scale you need to get it right first time,” says Jon Bray. Production manager Wob Roberts has built an extremely professional team around him that really helped it go smoothly.”