There is no “Dark Side” to Roger Waters Production—Us+Them

 

 

 

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Photo by Tom Donahue

As the stylus hit the grooves of “Dark Side of the Moon” and the first sounds hit my ears, I knew I would be a Pink Floyd fan for life. This was totally different than Deep Purple, Elton John or Led Zeppelin.  I didn’t own a stereo like my friends Marantz receiver wired to two Yamaha NS 1000 speakers. Roger Waters bass mixed with the clear separation of sound transformed me from a casual listener to an audiophile junky.

The first two songs of Roger Waters show at T-Mobile Arena focused on the massive video screen behind the airy stage as Waters and his tight six-piece band unleashed Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and “One of These Days.” But what caught my eye, was the enormous production that started behind the stage with HD quality video that stretched the width of the arena and then jutted 150 feet over the floor perpendicular to the stage. I had to find out how this was done.

 

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Photo by Tom Donahue

Jay Cline grew up in Seattle when Nirvana and Pearl Jam were breaking new ground in rock. In 1991, he worked as Technical Director with Legends in Concert and then toured with them for seven years. In 1998, he settled in Vegas and the Hard Rock where he continued to groom his craft in live music production. He continued climbing the venue management ladder at Mandalay Bay and then MGM Grand Garden before reaching the pinnacle at T-Mobile Arena as Executive Director of Event Production.  His new selection of stereo systems can weigh 340,000 pounds and put out over 110 decibels of sound. I sat down with Cline to learn how a show like Roger Waters works.

 

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Most people display autographed posters of memorable events-Jay proudly displays the rigging grid from T-Mobile’s Grand Opening with the Killer’s, completely autographed.

Load-in started at 4AM with a layout of the floor. From 5-8AM riggers were busy preparing to hang 240,000 pounds of sound and lights. Riggers no longer climb from the ground. At T-Mobile, they do it from the ceiling where a sophisticated web of catwalks are built-in. At Grand Garden, Cline didn’t even have one credible load in dock. At T-Mobile, he has six. He needs them.

At 8AM, 150 stagehands began assembling lighting that was already rigged to trusses and massive speaker cabinets from one of the 26 trucks.

Everything is rolling into the arena. To rig the massive concerts today, everything needs to be on rollers. By 3:00 they were rolling the stage under the sound and lights. Sound check was at six o’clock, which included over a dozen students that were performing from local schools. By seven doors were swinging open.

There are four unique pieces of Waters production. Speaker clusters were rigged from the back top of the arena, behind the crowd. When the six-piece band launched into songs like “Money”, you felt like you were in a home theater as sound circled the arena.

Stunning projection screens lowered from the ceiling and ran the length of the arena floor. One of the songs imaged smoke stacks depicting England’s Battersea Power Station in the initial backdrop, as lead singer Jonathon Wilson sang lean vocals on “Dogs” while David Kilminster uncorked a throbbing guitar solo.

The standard Floyd goliath inflatable pig – stamped with “Piggy Bank of War” – took an aerial tour of the arena around the ten video screens

While the “Pig” is monstrous, it is no more than the blimp you see at sporting events. It is operated by remote control.

To create the pyramid, four towers were erected that housed the laser effects.

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The Us+Them tour integrated the strongest political message of any rock show I have seen.   The crowd mostly cheered as images depicting a grimacing Trump on a baby’s body and as a tiny toy for Vladimir Putin to command lit up the massive screens. Words including “charade” and “joker” flashed as that regular co-star at any Waters show,

US+THEM Playlist-June 16-T-Mobile Arena-Do yourself a favor and watch any one of the videos

  1. Intro
  2. Speak to Me
    (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  3. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  4. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  5. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  6. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  7. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  8. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  9. Play Video

  10. Play Video

  11. Play Video

  12. Play Video

  13. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  14. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  15. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  16. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  17. Set 2:
  18. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  19. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  20. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  21. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  22. Play Video

  23. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  24. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  25. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  26. (Pink Floyd song)

    Play Video

  27. (Pink Floyd song)

 

Not everyone agrees with Waters politics. His message has cost him in ticket sales, but his creativity in producing a memorable presentation rooted in theater is unsurpassed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegas is #1 Destination for Live Music

Vegas On Pace To Break Last Year’s Ticket Sales Record

In 1991, Las Vegas sold 200,000 tickets to live music events. Then came the Grateful Dead, MGM Grand Garden, a swarm of theaters, festivals and T- Mobile Arena. In 2016,  Las Vegas sold over 3 million tickets to live music events. Pollstar magazine tracks sales of live music. Recently, it released mid-year ticket sales figures, reinforcing Vegas’ claim as the number one live music destination in the world.

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Rod Stewart-The Colosseum at Caesars Palace

2017 will be the first-year T-Mobile Arena reports a full year of concerts. They are off to a good start selling 161,096 tickets. MGM Grand Garden added another 84,899 and Thomas and Mack Center 35,760. That is over 300,000 tickets.

15001-venue-bb18-topline-billboard-1240.jpgLast year five of Las Vegas’s theaters we’re in the top 100 in the world. Then we added the Park Theater.  One of the reasons Las Vegas is so strong as a live music destination is the return of the residency. That trend shows no slowing down. The Axis at Planet Hollywood sold 305,545 tickets. The Colosseum at Caesars Palace sold 246,316 the Park Theater 119,176, the Smith Center hundred 111,072, and the Flamingo 38,970.

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Las Vegas had three venues in the top 100 of club venues.  Brooklyn Bowl sold 58,824 tickets, the Joint 33,622 tickets and Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan sold 12, 257. House of Blues did not report ticket sales.

The live music industry continues to grow, up 3.4% to a record 23.4 million and good news, the ticket price dropped 3.5%. According to Pollstar, “The industry took in more money and sold more tickets than ever before with a slightly lower ticket price”. Live Nation and AEG are again the top promoters in the world

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There are two categories Las Vegas  appear in. We do not have a major Amphitheater and Sam Boyd Stadium no longer competes for stadium tours. This will be the first U2 tour that has not played Las Vegas. 2020 and the new stadium cannot come soon enough. Met Life Stadium-New York, sold 157,583 tickets the first six months of 2017.

*Post note-the three tables are from Billboard Magazine. They show different perspectives on ticket grosses.