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Grönemeyer's 2019 Tour

When CUE Design’s Gunther Hecker got the nod to mastermind the stage show for Herbert Grönemeyer’s recent arena tour, his brief was very clear: The stage and the arsenal of satis&fy equipment and custom builds on and around it were not there to show off technical fireworks. They were there to put the artist front, center and in the spotlight. This was to be a platform for Grönemeyer’s personality to shine. As the audience from first show on March 5 in Kiel to the final concert on April 1 in Amsterdam would attest, that plan sure panned out.

Serving as the backdrop for the main stage, six 3x2-meter LED screens arrayed in a semicircle streamed live images and videos.  A moving propeller with LED screens circled above to cover the tiers on the left and right. The stage, a special build with a soft edge rounded at a 45° angle, featured catwalks, custom stairs and ramps for the musicians and Grönemeyer to roam in all directions. The middle catwalk extended deep into the audience area. At its far end was another stage with a piano that would occasionally surface, flipping back under the stage to be stowed away upside down. That was it for the technical trickery – no other pomp, circumstance or fanfares distracted from the artist. This gig was all about intimacy and the connection between artist and audience.  

Tech talk // special builds

Retro-style PATT lights lent the stage a warm friendly vibe, with the HG logo adding a nostalgic analog touch. satis&fy developed a baseplate-less mount to attach the PATT arc lamps to the LiteDeck and aim them freely. Cables were neatly tucked away in gooseneck conduits made specifically for this tour. New LED-based spotlights featured prominently as alternatives to Robe BMFL series and Martin MAC Viper lamps.  satis&fy had staged a shootout and simulation at Karben to compare lamps. Gunther Hecker wanted brighter, softer transitions between colors, preferably with no ramp-up time. Ayrton Khamsin lights came out on top.

Instead of the usual spotlights flown up over the tiers, this show featured ground-control spots with multitrack controllers to manipulate three lights each. This rig required special wiring furnished by satis&fy – a cable set that transmit signals over up to a kilometer. The company also provided the special builds to hold the LED screens. Both sides of the winch-driven propeller display were studded with LEDs. The Werne crew teamed up with AREA 4 Industries to design and build the propeller and an LED wall with the smallest feasible scaffolding. This modular structure scales to fit other events.

The five staircases were also designed and built in-house, as were the flexibly attachable handrails for the Litedeck platform system, which are also compatible with Bütec and Layher systems. Tailor-made ramps were angled to provide smooth transitions from the catwalks to the stage. Another new addition to the arsenal is a T-beam system perforated with holes. Designed to integrate into the TT-Truss, it serves to mount motors beneath the truss. The lighting rig also featured 2x30 watt RGBW Laser lights with DMX connectivity made by Osnabrück-based Lightline, and new P18 wash-lights. Three manned cameras connected via a server and a handheld camera captured the on-stage action to stream live images to the LED screens. A Cargo Cart dolly system and custom LED propeller transport mounts, manufactured by SchokoPro to satis&fy’s specifications, saved setup time and costs.

Show design & time-saving setup

Herbert Grönemeyer came up with the inceptive idea for this show. It was to capture the vibe of his current album TUMULT in a friendly, down-to-earth way with true pop appeal. Arty pretensions, superficial designer frills, FX fireworks that would overwhelm the audience – all that was a no-go. Grönemeyer and Hecker bounced ideas back and forth for three quarters of a year until all the pieces came together. A team of seven including Hecker and three satis&fy staffers, developed the video content for the show. The satis&fy personnel also helped with the art design.

The crew set up and tore down the stage in trial runs held prior to the tour in satis&fy’s rehearsal studio at Werne. The rolling Litedeck-based stage expedited setup out on the road. The lighting team was able to rig the LED screens and LED propeller while the stage crew assembled the platform and backline. Once the screens and light trusses were up with the propeller hanging from the venue’s ceiling, the crew simply pushed the stage under the lighting and video rig. The timing of it all was tight. The crew had two-thirds of the stage assembled in the middle of the arena and three of the four LED screens rigged and flown by 11 a.m. The backline was up and the LED propeller rotating at a lofty height by 12:45 p.m. At 1:15, they pushed the stage under the trusses. Showtime was 8:10 p.m. sharp every night. A scant few minutes later, the communal spirit had already blurred the boundaries between audience and artist. Together, they would become the evening’s protagonists, just as the artist had envisioned.

Fotos: Anna Imm Photography

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