With a career that spans more than half a century, Elton John kicks off his final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA. The stage is set with a massive LED screen framed by a highly-detailed, artistic portal, built by TAIT, that showcases a retrospective of his career.
Production experts George Hoadley, Production Manager, Patrick Woodroffe, Lighting Designer, Stufish Entertainment, Stage Designers, and TAIT, the Staging and Automation Providers, collaborated on the pop icons tour to provide fans with a concert experience that only Sir Elton John could deliver.
One of the most impressive elements of Elton John’s set is the artistic portal that frames the main backdrop video screen and wraps around the front of the stage. The portal is a scenic fascia brick frame fashioned with highly intricate detailed scenic elements depicting moments that have influenced John’s life. Those scenic elements include nine bas-relief portraits, album artwork, musicals he was involved in and foundations that he is dedicated and committed to. As a tribute to the tour, the top of the portal spotlights a pixel-chasing lightbox that spells out “Farewell Yellow Brick Road.” Several light fixtures and LED strips light up the portal’s artwork during the show.
Additionally, Elton John’s set features a custom-curved TAIT stage equipped with a downstage piano platform that tracks right/left and rotates via TAIT Navigator Automation Platform. The mainstage video screen is made up of two screens. Below the main backdrop video screen is a video screen ramp made from TAIT double-deckers with a built-in performance space for Elton John’s band. The LED video ramp is also furnished with a stage left performer lift used during Elton John’s last song, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’ The mainstage video screen relies on 13 Nav hoists to remain stationary when needed, as well as, lift up/down 4 ft. to reveal a lighting truss underneath the video screen. The lighting truss is moved by 6 Nav Hoists so that at various times throughout the show, the truss is seen peeking out from under the mainstage video screen just above the video screen ramp.
For Elton John’s finale, he exits in grand farewell fashion by stepping onto an automated platform that lifts him into the air and out through a hidden door of the mainstage video. To achieve this proper farewell, TAIT Navigator cues a BT2-200 winch to track the performer lift up the LED video ramp as a Nav Hoist lifts an individual video panel in the video screen revealing a hidden doorway in the video screen for him to exit through.
With a 300-date tour ahead, the fabrication of the scenic portal needed to be able to withstand the rigors of the road. To do so, TAIT’s scenic team developed a 3D, clay molding and paint sealing process that produces durable scenic pieces that load on/off stage, in/out of carts, can be exposed to extreme temperatures and handle other production circumstances with little to no maintenance for the duration of the tour. Venue size and location was another factor that impacted the design and build of this tour as the entire set needed to be flexible enough to fit inside in an arena setting, as well as, outside in a promoter-stage setting.
After a sold out opening night, the iconic singer-songwriter’s much-anticipated Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour hit the road for a 300 stop world-wide tour before concluding in 2021. TAIT’s latest episode of TAIT Take Over features Karla Ramsey, Scenic Group Lead at TAIT, who shares behind the scenes footage of the making of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road’s scenic portal. Additionally, TAIT presents “A conversation with Ray Winkler, CEO at Stufish Entertainment Architects” on TAIT Talks.