Read part one: Magnetic Metallica: Pryo and Laser Design
Read part two: Magnetic Metallica: Production and Lighting Design

With Metallica’s in-the-round setup and 2-ton hanging coffins that double as lighting rigs positioned above the stage, the lighting rig itself doesn’t contribute massively to the system’s weight, but the PA system is rather heavy, so the super-structure to support all this has to stand up to the rigors of the tour. “Time was an issue, fitting everything in, but I tried to make everything modular, so the lighting trusses themselves are four V-shaped lighting trusses,” says designer John Broderick. “Each is a module that slides up and down independently, so on load out, some can go stage left and the rest, stage right, making the process pretty straightforward. It has to be a lean machine of a lighting rig because lesser crew members won’t survive the rehearsal.”

Creating the stage decks to accommodate the pyrotechnics, Tait Towers built and designed the rolling stage, including the rolling drum riser. Adam Davis, vice president at Tait Towers, says there were some challenges with the design changes for the staging. “We started maybe seven or eight months ahead of time, like it should be. We were 80% finished with the show when the band decided they didn’t want to go out with the show that was being prepared, and we were left with a week to change it up,” he says. “Imagine a comedy when plan A gets scrapped, and everyone is waiting for plan B to be decided.”

The staging is Tait’s own Mag Deck system that allows it to deploy in approximately 25 minutes and to pack into less space than any system the company has previously designed. It includes areas for the pyro effects to be housed. “There are a couple tricks to it,” says Davis. “There are connections between the support structure and deck. If you pull on it, it releases; push it, it locks. There is no training or extra movement needed.” Tait also built the revolving drum riser, which Davis says had to be “rock solid. It electromechanically revolves and has caliper brakes from racecars to pneumatically stop it.”

Davis adds that the original staging setup included a multilevel, tiered system, with pyro and lighting integrated. “It turned into something more elegant that highlights the band more,” he adds. “The overall production is less, but the effect is more.”
And it seems Broderick isn’t tired of the gig after 21 years. He’ll be back out with Metallica in the South of France in July for a DVD shoot of the tour.

For the full story, check out the April issue of Live Design.