At the start of the X-Factor auditions in 2010, One Direction as a band didn’t even exist. By the end of the competition they had only come third. Today, they have sold over 14 million singles and 8 million albums and are credited with sparking the resurgence in the boy band concept and of spearheading a new “British Invasion” in the USA. About to be named the UK’s wealthiest boy band with a combined worth of £25 million, One Direction are currently the darlings of the media. The tabloids have simultaneously congratulated them for having David Cameron join them outside 10 Downing Street during the filming of the official Comic Relief single for 2013 and lambasted them for sound checking amidst a track of shrieking girls to give them a more authentic feel for a venue before the show. Such is the fickle nature of the media beast.
No surprise then, that the production values for their extensive 2013 tour, taking them through the UK and Europe, on to the USA and into the Australasian market, reflect their status as the boy band of the moment. Why have Load Cell Rental been contracted to weigh parts of their rig? Production North’s Director Steve Levitt has a straightforward answer: “Any show needs to be safe. There have been too many incidents of things falling over in the past couple of years – the video screen that dropped in Florida last month is a case in point – as a touring production we’ve simply got to produce properly weighed data and produce accredited paperwork to back those figures for both the venues and the promoters. We are using LCR to weigh everything that’s on a two ton point or is tracking.”
Behind the multi-levels of the One Direction stage set is an enormous video screen flown on its own grid that not only provides the scene setting for each number but contains moving panes that allow stage access at various points. Add to that a specially designed tracking stage that flies the boys out over the audience and you have a rig that necessitates accuracy and safety as the paramount considerations during set-up.
Without undermining pre-production planning and design, on a show of this complexity, LCR’s services also provide hard data confidence for artist and rigger alike. Tour rigger, Donny McDonald of OTT Rigging is certainly an avid supporter of the assurance it provides: “The tracking stage that flies over the audience is a one off structure. To get accurate weight of dynamic load that moves overhead is a serious consideration. The big video screen with the moving panes is flown on a small separate grid. It’s one thing to work out these sort of variables with pencil and paper, quite another to see how the loads shift in real life. The Load Cell Rental thing was great because they dealt with it all; I didn’t have to do anything. They came in, put in the devices and wiring and then gave me a report.”
As touring productions continue to ask ever more from their riggers, McDonald welcomes the added surety that LCR provides, “Their work leaves me free to concentrate on the rig. With systems getting larger and ever more complex there’s absolutely no substitute for concentration when it comes to safety.”