XL Video UK supplied Production North with Pixled F-11 moving screens and two large left and right IMAG screens made up from their brand new F-12 product for Westlife's Farewell Concert at Croke Park Stadium, Dublin, Ireland.
Westlife - the most popular, long lasting and successful boyband in the history of the genre - performed their last two ever live shows in front of 85,000 capacity audiences, topping off a hugely successful 14 year career that's seen them sell over 45 million records, land a string of number one hits and retain a loyal fan base.
XL Video has been involved with Westlife since their first full scale production tour, Coast To Coast, in 2000. Video has always played an integral part in their live visuals and presentation and this last Farewell tour - six weeks in UK arenas - followed by the two shows at Croke Park - was no exception.
Says XL Video's Project Manager Phil Mercer, "We are extremely proud of our history and association with Westlife. The fact that they have consistently toured UK arenas (11 tours in the last 12 years) to a very loyal group of fans has been a huge challenge in keeping the visual aspect of the show fresh and different each time. The band's hard-working attitude to live shows I'm sure has played a major part in keeping them at the top for so long".
The tour and the Croke Park shows - produced by Emma Bull - needed to be extra spectacular and special to mark the band's exit.
The final show in particular, needed to ensure the band ended on a high note, a tricky psychological and spiritual challenge, but one to which all technical departments rose.
The four Pixled F-11 moving screens onstage each measured 5 panels wide by 12 deep, and tracked from side to side on a system installed by production riggers, Over The Top. These screens displayed playback content that was specially tailored for each song, produced by Blink TV.
The screens provided an additional layer of drama and mood which combined with Dave Lee's lighting design to produce the highly-matched visual treatments that Bull had envisioned. They shifted into numerous different positions throughout the set, and were also used as the exit door for the band's emotionally charged final exit from stage.
The side screens of F-12 - specially developed by Pixled and Tait Technologies for XL Video - came straight off Coldplay's UK stadium tour, for which they were initially commissioned, and this product is currently available only from XL as a rental item.
Mega bright, very lightweight, reliable and quality engineered to the high standards associated with Pixled, the side screens each measured 9m x 9m, and ensured that fans all around the stadium received a clear view of director Billy Robinson's slickly structured IMAG mix. At strategic moments, playback footage - primarily monochrome VT capturing the band's thoughts, reflections and most enjoyable memories of the last 14 years - also appeared in these.
XL's engineer Patrick Vansteelant comments that the F-12 has been "Fantastic" to work with. It's going to be seen on plenty of XL's projects this summer and its clarity and punch will be a great asset for shows competing with the long daylight hours!
The PPU and cameras were supplied by Luke and Tom Levitt, who co-ordinated the video elements for Production North.
The mix from Robinson's PPU was fed into Barco Image Pro processors, where it was formatted and output to the screens by Vansteelant. He worked alongside Steve Clarisse on the tour and at the Croke Park shows. Together with the Levitt brothers and Billy Robinson, they all formed one harmonious video team.
For Croke Park only Alain Demey, Robyn Tearle and Marcus Wareham were additions to the XL crew.
The B stage, used towards the end of the show right in the middle of the audience and from where Westlife said their final goodbyes, featured a custom W shaped video deck produced by Production North, containing 384 Stealth tiles which were also provided by XL Video.
In addition to the live audience in the stadium, the Farewell Concert on Saturday 23rd June was beamed live to nearly 300 cinemas around the UK, ramping the pressure on everyone to get it just right, so all the Westlife enthusiasts, even if unable to get there in person, could still enjoy the atmosphere and vibe of an historical moment.