Nathan Wilson of Performance Entertainment Design Group (PEDG) was on site in Baku, Azerbaijan for five weeks leading up to three rock concerts: “I quit touring years ago but still went away for five weeks,” he says about this gig. “It was very secure there, with a lot of security everywhere, a lot of places they don’t speak any English, this was the center of the Persian Empire,” he explains. But today the city is modern, or as Wilson notes, “every building lit with LED or video, it is very bright at night, vibrant, glitzy…”
The Baku concerts took place in the 20,000-seat Crystal Hall, built to house the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. “There are pixels built into the façade of the building, that are video mapped, with pre-programmed content from Eurovision,” adds Wilson. They also own some A&O Falcon xenon searchlights they put out for special events… so we didn’t have to light the building.”
PEDG handled the staging, video, and lighting for all three concerts that took place in the fall of 2012 in BAKU: Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Rihanna, in conjunction with the Women’s World Cup FIFA soccer event (the client was Omni Como Music Group) As Wilson points out, “It was kind of a festival style. We created an overall look for the audience lighting with a proscenium to mimic the outside of the building. Each band sent me a plot so we did a turn over for each concert, and the lighting designers—Nick Whitehouse for Rihanna, Paul Normandale for Shakira, Sean Burke for Jennifer Lopez—restyled their shows for Azerbaijan so it was not just another touring show, it was special for them.”
The festival-style lighting rig changed a lot as it was pulled together on site, with gear provided by Ng Earth including Clay Paky Sharpys, Robe 1200 spots, and Philips Vari-Lite VL 3000 spots and VL 3500 FX. The video screens, provided by VER compirse Winvision 9mm and Everbright, with each band reconfiguring the video screens to best suit their needs. The main lighting console was an MA Lighting grandMA2 and J-Lo brought a High End Systems Road Hog.
“We had a lot of flexibility,” notes Wilson, “Everything that was flown stayed pretty much the same, with side towers and torms redesigned for each band.” Additional set pieces such as dance risers and LED stairs appeared as different things each band had with them. “We pulled everything from Europe for the main rig, and each band shipped their scenery to get to Baku five days or so in advance, and did programming on site,” adds Wilson. “Each band brought in full production and full sets. Shakira and Rihanna had new sets, and J-Lo used a touring set slighting revised.”
The overall proscenium built for the three shows was fabricated with inter-connected triangles with TAIT LEDs built into each node and mapped through the Tait server. “It could be backlit and projected on,” says Wilson, “with
12 20K projectors mapped though a Green Hippo Hippotizer.