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feature

The steel magnates

A strong 2016, diversification out of commercial necessity and a move to shorter lead times are currently, Eamonn Forde learns, the dominant themes in staging and rigging

By IQ on 30 Jan 2017

Megaforce tech, Steel Magnates structure feature

Megaforce's techs get to work on ever-more complex staging for EDM events


One of the major beneficiaries of the growth of the live music industry, and the many festivals and tours that are now constantly on the road, is the steel business – the engineers and crew who erect everything from the most basic fencing through to the most elaborate stage sets that audiences have ever witnessed. But we ain’t seen nothing yet…

The list of suppliers now operating in the steel sector is vast, but among the best known experts are the likes of Star Events Group, Stageco, Megaforce, Eve Lion Trackhire (formerly Eve Trakway), Prolyte, All Access Inc, Tait Towers, Gearhouse, Mojo Barriers and eps, some of whom tell IQ that, against the backdrop of a tough economic reality, 2016 has been better than they hoped. Others report it far exceeded forecasts; suggesting a mixed bag, but not one doused in misery.

“It’s been better than a good one – it’s been the best!” says an ebullient Tom Bilsen, operations director for Stageco, of the past year for his company, which worked on major tours by Beyoncé, AC/DC, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen and Rihanna. “We have never had this much work in one year. We have never had as many stages out at the same time. But it also means we have never had as much turnover that reflects the amount of work we did throughout the whole year.”

Michael Brombacher, CEO of staging rivals Megaforce, says, “The demands of classic festivals and concerts/artists, did not really change in recent years concerning steel and structures. But festivals more and more want to offer their audiences different attractions in one place, so there is not only a main stage, but also a second stage, chill out area, camping area, VIP platform, club area and so on.

“2016 was a busy year for stadium cover”

“They offer different themes in one festival in order to create a kind of adventure event with the character of a vacation including camping.”

On the back of a bumper 2016, supplying stages and support structures to festivals, stadium shows, sports events, brand activations and more besides, Star Events special projects director Roger Barrett is busy developing infrastructure for the new year. “Further investment of over £1.5 million [€1.8m] before next summer will see festival mainstay Orbit Flexidome rebranded as Orbit Arch, with more height, floor space and rigging capacity, while a new, touring ‘Ultra’ version of the flagship VerTech stage system will be unveiled in early 2017 too,” Barrett reports.

David Walkden of Eve Trakway says that major stadium shows by acts like Rod Stewart, Elton John and Beyoncé – as well as recurring work at festivals such as Glastonbury, Isle of Wight and Bestival – provided an uptick for his company this year. “2016 was a busy year for stadium cover,” he says. “We serviced over 30 stadiums in the UK, providing promoters with heavy-duty trackway to enable safe access into venues, which is paramount for the protection of their production infrastructure.”

 


Read the rest of this feature in issue 69 of IQ Magazine.


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