Here’s a little about me and what I do!
I have been a freelance video tech for around 30 years, broadly speaking I deal with the large video screens that you see at gigs.
That can include anything from being a multi-camera live vision director for Peter Gabriel, MeatLoaf, Lady Gaga (UK) and Neil Sedaka.
LED tech for Madonna’s MDNA LED dance-floor, The 1975 and Arcade Fire.
Vision engineer for Rihanna’s Diamonds tour, Lady Gaga’s Artpop tour, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Projectionist for The Chemical Brothers, Primal Scream and Mike Oldfield
Resolume media server programer / op for Westlife’s “Twenty” tour and a whole host more.
I’ve toured through Europe and the rest of the world many times, with acts of all sizes large and small, with crews as little as 10 and crews with as many as 120.
I’ve done 1 truck festival tours and 50 truck stadium tours and everything between.
Some of these tours can be just 5 or 6 shows, or they can last for much longer.
The longest Tour – Lady Gaga’s Artpop Ball 2014
The longest tour I’ve done was 84 shows for Lady Gaga’s Artpop tour, I was away from home for over 8 months.
The tour took us through USA, Canada, Far East, Australia, Middle East and the EU.
At the start of the tour I was flown out to Montreal to build the Camera engineering racks for Solotech, then into production rehearsals in Chicago before hitting the road as PPU system engineer / Camera engineer. When we hit the UK I took over as Live camera vision director whilst the tour’s usual director Bert Pare took a break for the release of his short film Itsy Bitsy Spiders.
The tour culminated in Paris with the arena show being live streamed to 2 million fans world-wide.
Video world for Lady Gaga’s Artpop tour
I came home from one tour with Peter Gabriel after 7 weeks, to find the wife and family had moved house, the move had been delayed before I went, I spent the following weeks putting up curtains and fitting carpets as you do!
The Largest Tour – Madonna’s MDNA tour 2012
One of the things about being freelancer is your ability to be able to drop into a tour as a replacement when the need arises.
And that was the case for Madonna’s MDNA tour, which had been on the road for a few weeks when I got a call to replace a tech who had other commitments and joined the tour just as it started the European leg, then into Russia and onto the USA & Canada.
I took over from a good friend of mine as LED tech for the Matrix LED Dance-floor.
Madonna’s MDNA matrix LED dance-floor
This dance-floor consisted of 36 individual ‘lifts’ built into 18 custom lift carts. Each cart contained two electric lifts that raised the it’s 1m x 1m section of the dance-floor up to ten feet. These lifts made up the central section of the stage, each cart weighed in at 2,5 tonnes and were so big we had 5 trucks for just that gear.
The top, front and sides were covered in LED screen as you can see in the image above and my job was too keep it working for every show.
The LED Matrix lift carts waiting to be built into the stage in Moscow.
The video below shows the ‘Matrix’ in its full glory.
My Favourite shows
The best type of shows for me are headline festivals tours, I’ve been lucky enough to roll through several festival seasons with some stunning acts, by far my favourite was Fuji Rock with the Chemical Brothers in 2002. Watching from the side of stage the reaction of 70,000 fans as the back Gabuki dropped to reveal the 40′ screen I’d setup will stay with me forever.
On one leg of a Chems European tour we arrived by tour bus at an open air show in a park in Italy, but the truck got stopped at the border. After many hours and with the audience now in looking at an empty stage with a DJ in one corner, the truck arrived, the audience had to move aside so the driver could reverse into the dock beside the stage, We then built the entire show in front of the audience. Every time something got pushed into place they went mad, we still managed to keep the main screen hidden until the reveal, fun days.
The hardest gig I ever did was spending two weeks in the Seychelles doing an outdoor projection for Miss World in the mid 90s. I say hard, because having to lay around all day in the sun on a fabulous beach, waiting for it to get dark, was quite exhausting! Got a nice tan though!
No matter the size of the tour, when you are on the road you become one big family and I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible people from all over the globe. including all of the dancers & performers, the backline techs, video, sound and lighting crew, the riggers, Special Effects, set carpenters, & automation, the wardrobe, makeup and hair, the production team, the yummy catering, the drivers, the merchandise guys and girls and anyone else working behind the scenes.
Covid 19 has taken its toll on live events, we will be back, lets just hope we can carry on touring through the EU!
So if you need a video guy gimme a call!