Feeling Good

How Louder Entertainment brought two musical superstars to Dubai International Stadium
A 250-person crew rotated 24hr shifts for four days to complete the stadium  build-up
A 250-person crew rotated 24hr shifts for four days to complete the stadium build-up

Share

For many event organisers, the prospect of hosting an international artist live in concert is more than enough to serve up a few sleepless nights.

For most event organisers, the prospect of hosting two international artists live in concert, back-to-back, would surely have them waking up in a cold sweat for months beforehand. For nearly all event organisers, hosting two international artists live in concert, back-to-back, in a venue that is not regularly used for such purposes would be the final nail in the coffin of deciding to change career.

However, for Louder Entertainment, the challenge of dealing a Michael Bublé/Drake double bill to Dubai across one weekend was simply something to sink its teeth into.

Amy Wilkinson-Lough, managing director, explains: “Essentially it came down to availability. We had been waiting particularly for a Drake date for quite some time — it just so happened Drake was on the way back from Australia at the same time Michael was on his way back from Asia.

Rather than lose one of the dates we decided to take on the challenge of a full music weekend. The challenge of course was changeover time — we had more than 200 technicians working on that Friday night changeover alone.”

With no false expectations of just how tricky the ‘big weekend’ would be, Louder had already begun to make preparations before 2014 was even through. Wilkinson-Lough reveals: “Planning for the two shows started early December with pretty much a constant dialogue for the last four months between our production director and each respective camp.

Logistically we had to fly in 46ft of video and lighting equipment as the region’s resources had been utilised for the Bublé show. From a production perspective it was undoubtedly the largest ever set-up for a commercial concert within the UAE —we had 250 guys working 24 hours shifts for four days for build, and an additional 350 staff on each show per night.”

At first glance, such as substantial amount of people power might seem over-zealous. However, upon walking into Dubai International Stadium for what was our first time, it was instantly obvious what all the effort had been put towards.

The huge expanse of the open-air cricket ground had been transformed into a concert arena of epic proportions, with a pretty epic list of equipment behind it. As Wilkinson-Lough reveals: “4,000KVA in generators were used, which is easily enough power to light up a small city at night! Over 1,000 moving lights were installed, 5,000 metres of netted fencing and barriers to allow us to build the outer perimeters, more than 50 mobile offices, dressing rooms, catering tents, bathrooms etc. were installed.

In order for us to make this all remotely possible we had to fly both lighting rigs at the same time which resulted in the largest lighting rig ever installed in the world; this alone meant we needed to install a new staging system to the one we would normally use to cover such an enormous load up in the roof.”

“Of course,” she adds, “with statistics like that you face challenges along the way — but ultimately the vision of each artist was delivered exactly how they wanted it. Schedules were adhered to and I couldn’t be prouder of what was achieved.”

Article continues on next page...

Naturally, in order to reach the desired result a selection of local companies needed to be contracted in. And it was the familiar name of eclipse staging services leading the charge.

Shaun Donsen, project manager, tells us: “One of the most important elements going into the weekend of shows was the planning that had to take place between all of the production team involved locally and each tour production, to come up with a very detailed plan of how this was going to be delivered in the limited time available.

At the time of installation and build, all of the rigging points for both artists were put into the roof, along with a number of the trusses and lighting fixtures for the Drake show, which were hidden above the Bublé rig to save vital time on change over.

Due to the amount of lighting and trussing that was going to be installed into the roof for both these shows, our stage supplier, Al Laith Staging Services, had to use a different roofing system to the stage roof they normally use on other concerts in the region to be able to accommodate this weight.”

And a big venue called for big sound, which local supplier Delta Sound was called upon for. Al Woods, director, explains: “The system was a stadium system with main hangs K1/Kara, Side hangs K2 front fills of DV Dosc and SB28 subs. This was supplemented by four delay positions of V Dosc.

The Bublé system was the same for Drake, although the sub configuration was different - Bublé’s FOH engineer Craig Doublet requested cardioid configuration of subs both at stage end (three stacks of four per side) and at the second delay (one stack of four per side), whereas Drake’s FOH engineer Demetrius Moore requested all the subs in two blocks of 16 under the main PA.”

Obviously, there were also many difference between the two shows when it came to the other technical aspects. After all, Bublé’s big band set-up is never going to fit Drake’s one-man show — the two artists couldn’t be more different, as is also the case for their live shows.

Donsen explains: “These were two totally separate shows with completely different lighting designs, the only aspect of the shows that were the same was the upstage centre video screen, the IMAGS on the stage wings and the two delay video screens. Everything from a light perspective was totally different.

A lot of the Drake show was installed at the same time as Bublé and just hidden above the Bublé rig, this was to save time on the changeover and to ensure the Drake show would be installed and ready for show night.”

He continues: “The whole rigging of the show was the most complicated element. Due to the very tight turnaround, both shows had to have all the rigging points installed from the start to enable time to be saved in the 10 hour turnaround.

Al Laith had to construct a new roof design to be able to carry the weight of both the rigs as this was in the region of 25 tonnes of technical equipment. Due to Bublé having his own touring stage, this had to be removed at the end of the second show by his team, a new performance stage then had to be installed for Drake to perform on.”

From an audio perspective, there were also adaptations to be made between the two artists. Woods tells us: “Both productions brought their own engineers for both ends — Bublé brought a system engineer and took full control of both the timing and equalisation of the system. So Delta had to re-time and equalise the system once the front fills and subs had been repositioned.

Article continues on next page...

This was an overnight job ready for the arrival of Drake in the morning. The sound design for both shows was similar in the respect that the PA had to be carefully designed to minimise reflections — the stadium has a lot of glass and plastic seats so areas that are not on sale needed to be avoided with audio coverage.”

Considering the tight nature of the turnaround and the technical demands of each artist’s show, we couldn’t help but wonder whether a more ‘tried-and-tested’ venue, such as Media City Amphitheatre — might have made life a little easier? Wilkinson-Lough explains: “I’m a huge fan of Media City — it’s a great venue in a superb location, the disadvantage for us here was simply space.

Both Michael Bublé and Drake have a B stage; that coupled with such huge A stage space and production would have given us a capacity of about 8,000 people, which would never have worked capacity-wise or commercially. DIS has the space but it also has the infrastructure — green rooms, media rooms, control centres and such like — when you only have four hours load in and out time between two artists you have to look at ways to save as much time as is possible, without affecting the creative integrity of the artist.”

Unfortunately, however, the venue choice left many fans claiming to have been disappointed judging by certain feedback after the concert on social media. Huge gaps of empty space between the floor seating and the grandstands left those in the ‘cheap seats’ with a restricted view and a sense of being ‘left out’ of the fun, while the open-air stadium also affected the audibility levels of parts of the show for some people.

Considering that Sound & Stage was there to assess, well, both the sound and the stage, we were sadly left agreeing with some of the feedback we heard.

Obviously an arena gig is going to be a totally different experience from an intimate venue, but the concert set-up that we witnessed — although impressive — appeared to be swallowed up by the vast expanse of the stadium itself, and the crowd thinly spread across the various sections.

However, according to Wilkinson-Lough, the stadium was, in fact, at maximum capacity. She says: “What some people don’t realise is that, while the stadium may hold 25,000 people, an artist usually puts a cap on the number they actually want to perform to.

Michael Bublé for example likes when doing a ‘standalone’ show to keep them intimate and caps his audience at 15,000 per night, which of course gives the impression to someone who wouldn’t know that that the stadium is only half full when, in fact, we were almost at contractual capacity.”

This was also the case for the final night when Drake took to the stage, however the standing arrangement gave way to a more involved atmosphere. Wilkinson-Lough tells us: “Drake had just over 17,500 fans — again there is no other venue in Dubai that can hold that number of people on top of such a huge stage production. Potentially the
Sevens, but the entire infrastructure there has to be built from scratch making the turnaround of such huge shows nigh-on impossible.”

But what about the fans who had been waiting for weeks to see their idols, only to be left disappointed? From sources we have since spoken to, Louder was very accommodating to their complaints, with those who had voiced negative opinions from the opening night being invited back for the golden circle experience on the second night.

However, as in every case, there were also those fans who loved every minute of the shows, whether from the front row or way out in the back. While there can be no denying the incredible performances and production of the gigs, it seems as though Dubai International Stadium has left the city with very mixed opinions.

And, in all fairness, Louder appears to be more than willing to accept this fact. Whereas some organisers may flatly refuse accountability for any disappointed concert-goers, Wilkinson-Lough says: “We acknowledge that those in the upper grandstand were much further away than those in the golden circle, but that essentially is justified in the price of ticket. Like anything, hindsight is a great thing — but you live and learn.

As managing director I take every piece of feedback — positive or negative — from any of our shows and put it to use for the next one. We won’t always get it right and aren’t afraid to hold our hands up when mistakes are made. However, walking away from this mammoth weekend we’ve had more than 45,000 people through the gates and 99 per cent of them had the time of their lives.”

With jazz man Michael Bublé taking the stage for two consecutive nights, followed by hip-hop icon Drake for a one-night-only closing concert, pulling off the demanding double-whammy was by no means an easy task...

Article continues on next page...

KIT LIST (Courtesy of eclipse staging services)

Michael Bublé

Power:
›› 2 x 1250 KVA of power for lighting / video / audio
›› 2 x 320 KVA of 120V Power for tour production elements

Rigging:
›› 13 30cm x 30cm Tower Truss (Black) 4.00m
›› 17 52cm x 52cm Medium Duty Truss (Black) 3.05m (10ft)
›› 13 30cm x 30cm Tower Truss (Black) 3.00m
›› 4 30cm x 30cm Tower Truss (Black) 2.00m
›› 4 52cm x 52cm Medium Duty Truss (Black) 4.00m
›› 28 Electric Hoist 1000Kg Motor 18.00m Chain
›› 1 LTM Motor Hoist Controller (12 Way)
›› 4 Electric Hoist 250Kg Motor - 18.00m Chain
›› 18 Electric Hoist 500Kg Motor - 18.00m Chain
›› 1 LTM Motor Hoist Controller (2 x 6 Way)
›› 1 Zargees 14 Rung Ladder
›› 16 Stage Weight - 12.50Kg
›› 50 Rigging, per point
›› 6 Black Easy Drape - 3.60m(T) x 9.00m(T)
›› 4 Easy Drape Base Plate
›› 4 Easy Drape Horizontal 2.00m/4.00m adjustable pipe
›› 4 Black Easy Drape - 3.00m(T) x 3.60m
›› 4 Easy Drape Vertical 2.00m/3.60m adjustable pipe

Lighting:
›› 2 SMC GS10C Fibre Optic 8 Port Gigabit Switch
›› 2 Neutrik OpticalCON DUO Fibre Cable 100.00m and Couplers
›› 1 GrandMA Series 2 Lite Console
›› 1 GrandMA Series 2 Full Console
›› 2 GrandMA NPU (Networking Processing Unit)
›› 26 Martin Mac Viper Moving Head Profile
›› 48 Martin Mac Viper Moving Head Profile
›› 30 Clay Paky Alpha Wash 1500
›› 14 Clay Paky Alpha Profile 1500
›› 101 Chauvet LED Par Colorado 1 Tri IP
›› 12 Martin Mac Aura Moving Head LED Wash
›› 4 Gladiator Strong Follow Spot - 3000W
›› 2 Lycian Follow Spot - 1200W
›› 2 Truss Mounted Follow Spot Chair
›› 2 Wire Ladder (6.00m)
›› 2 Lycian Follow Spot Medium Throw Lens
›› 1 Lighting Mains & Signal Cable Package - Large
›› 600 5-Pin DMX Cable, per metre
›› 1 Distro - Type 804
›› 1 Distro - Type 104

Video:
›› 1 Clear-Com 5 Way Camera Comms System
›› 1 Barco PDS-902-3G Seamless Switcher
›› 2 Laptop - 15.4” HP Probook 4540s (Playback)
›› 440 ROE MC-9H 9mm Pixel Pitch LED Panel
›› 2 Barco Folsom Image Pro II HD
›› 2 Pro-Screen PS 10-S 10mm Pixel Pitch LED Panel
›› 1 PlayBack Pro Software and Mac Pro with Monitor

Drake

Power:
›› 3 x 1250 KVA power for lighting / video / audio

Rigging:
›› 7 52cm x 52cm Medium Duty Truss (Black) 3.05m (10ft)
›› 4 30cm x 30cm Tower Truss (Black) 3.00m
›› 2 30cm x 30cm Tower Truss (Black) 2.00m
›› 10 Electric Hoist 1000Kg Motor 18.00m Chain
›› 4 Electric Hoist 250Kg Motor - 18.00m Chain
›› 1 LTM Motor Hoist Controller (12 Way)
›› 10 Electric Hoist 500Kg Motor - 18.00m Chain
›› 1 LTM Motor Hoist Controller (2 x 6 Way)
›› 36 LIFTKET Electric Hoist 1000Kg Motor - 21.00m Chain
›› 4 Out Board LV8 Motor Hoist Controller (8 Way)
›› 1 Zargees 14 Rung Ladder
›› 16 Stage Weight - 12.50Kg
›› 54 Rigging, per point
›› 6 Black Easy Drape - 3.60m(T) x 9.00m(T)
›› 4 Easy Drape Base Plate
›› 4 Easy Drape Horizontal 2.00m/4.00m adjustable pipe
›› 4 Black Easy Drape - 3.00m(T) x 3.60m
›› 4 Easy Drape Vertical 2.00m/3.60m adjustable pipe

IMAGS–stage:
›› 1 Barco PDS-902-3G Seamless Switcher
›› 2 Laptop - 15.4” HP Probook 4540s (Playback)
›› 168 ROE MC-9H 9mm Pixel Pitch LED Panel 2 x 7.2M x 4.2M IMAG SCreens

›› 2 Barco Folsom Image Pro II HD
›› 1 PlayBack Pro Software and Mac Pro with Monitor
›› 2 Distro - Type 806

Screens:
›› 19.8M x 10.8M Galaxia WV Air 9MM LED Screen19.8M x 10.8M Galaxia WV Air 9MM LED Screen
›› 6 ROE 0.60m LED Screen Hanging BarROE 0.60m LED Screen Hanging Bar
›› 80 ROE MC-9H 9mm Pixel Pitch LED PanelROE MC-9H 9mm Pixel Pitch LED Panel

Floor lighting:
›› 1 GrandMA Series 2 Full Console
›› 2 GrandMA NPU (Networking Processing Unit)
›› 28 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 1500
›› 20 Chauvet LED Par Colorado 1 Tri IP
›› 44 Clay Paky Super Sharpy
›› 4 Gladiator Strong Follow Spot - 3000W
›› 1 Lighting Mains & Signal Cable Package - Large
›› 100 5-Pin DMX Cable, per metre
›› 2 Distro - Type 804
›› 1 Distro - Type 104
›› 4 Distro - Type 801
›› 2 Distro - Type 802
›› 6 95mm PowerLock Set 2.00m
›› 100 Socapex Cable, per metre
›› 25 5L Smoke Fluid (DF50)

Lasers:
›› 4 MDG Max 5000 APS Smoke Machine + Remote ControlMDG Max 5000 APS Smoke Machine + Remote Control
›› 4 ProFanProFan
›› 1 Pangolin Laser Control SystemPangolin Laser Control System
›› 2 30-Watt RYGB OPS (Full Colour)

Laser30-Watt RYGB OPS (Full Colour) Laser
›› 4 24-Watt OPS (Full Colour) Laser24-Watt OPS (Full Colour) Laser

Flames:
›› 1 Avolites Pearl Lighting Console 2000 ModelAvolites Pearl Lighting Console 2000 Model
›› 10 FlamaniacFlamaniac
›› 20 2.50L Flamaniac Flame Fluid2.50L Flamaniac Flame Fluid

CO2/smoke machines:
›› 4 MDG Max 5000 APS Smoke Machine + Remote ControlMDG Max 5000 APS Smoke Machine + Remote Control
›› 4 ProFanProFan
›› 24 CO2 JetCO2 Jet
›› 16 CO2 JetCO2 Jet

Pyro:
›› 180 shots of various pyrotechnic

AUDIO KIT LIST (Courtesy of Delta Sound Dubai)

PA Package :
›› 24x L’Acoustics K1 Loudspeaker
›› 6x L’Acoustics Kara Loudspeaker
›› 40x L’Acoustics SB28 Sub Speaker
›› 12x L’Acoustics K1 Subwoofer
›› 24x L’Acoustics V-Dosc Loudspeaker
›› 12x L’Acoustics DV-Dosc Loudspeaker
›› 24x L’Acoustics K2 Loudspeaker
›› 12x L’Acoustics LA-RAK (3 x LA8 amplifiers)
›› 1x L’Acoustics LA8 Amplifier
›› 2x XTA DP226 Controller

Drake FOH package:
›› 1x DiGiCo SD7 Console
›› 2x DiGiCo SD-Rack 56i - OPTICS + UPS
›› 1x DiGiCo Digi Grid MGB
›› 4x Avalon VT737 Valve Pre amp/compressor
›› 3x Yamaha SPX990
›› 2x JoeCo BBR64 MADI Blackbox Recorder
›› 1x Tascam RW900SL CD Burner
›› 2x M-Audio BX5 Reference Monitor
›› 1x M-audio SBX-10 Powered Sub Speaker
›› 1x Lake LM 44 Processor
›› 1x TC Electronics 2290
›› 1x DBX 120 XP Sub Harmoniser

Drake monitor package:
›› 1x DiGiCo SD5 Console - V685 - 001
›› 2x DiGiCo SD-Rack 56i - OPTICS + UPS
›› 2x DELTA IEM 8 WAY RACK - Sennheiser 2050 - Rack 01 - Aw
›› 8x L’Acoustics V-Dosc Loudspeaker
›› 8x L’Acoustics SB218 Subwoofer
›› 12x L’Acoustics 115XT HIQ Loudspeaker
›› 4x Sennheiser Receiver - 2ch - EM3732-II
›› 8x Sennheiser Handheld - SKM5200 c/w MD5235
›› 4x Shure P6HW Hard Wired IEM Belt Packs
›› 1x Waves Sound Grid DSP Server
›› 1x Waves Sound Grid Pro Bundle Audio Software V9.2.8

Local PA control :
›› 1x DiGiCo SD9 Console - V685
›› 1x Tascam RW900SL CD Burner
›› 1x Soundcard - Sound Devices USB Pre v1 - 2/2 USB
›› 1x Meyer Sound Galileo 616
›› 1x Meyer Sound Galileo 616 AES
›› 1x Computer - FOH PC+Tablet c/w Smaart & Analyzer Mic

Most Popular

Editor's Choice

StarzPlay’s tech powers India’s Lionsgate Play
Provides managed services, developed by StarzPlay, to mark successful launch of Lionsgate Play ...
Subscribe to Digital Studio Middle East
The latest editor of Digital Studio Middle East, the foremost and most respected platform for ...
Dubai's Faisal Hashmi working on feature film
10 short films in 10 years has earned Faisal Hashmi international plaudits at film festival, ...

Don't Miss a Story