2021 TAIT Yearbook

25 Wakefield MD Ben Brooks talks to one of the original Brilliant Stages founders, Tony Bowern, about how Brilliant started and how it has evolved over the years, and looks ahead to what the future holds. Founded in 1983, Brilliant Stages has grown from a two-man operation in a small workshop to a global player that’s helped the likes of U2, Beyoncé, The Rolling Stones, Cirque Du Soleil, and the Olympic Games create epic structures, advanced stages, and spectacular motion. “It all came about with a guy called Charlie Kail,” explains Tony. “He was working in his spare time for a company called Meteorlites who worked out of an old bakery in Baldock in the UK. They wanted to build an aluminum drum riser for Iron Maiden, but when the truck came to pick it up, they realized they couldn’t get it out of the door. That was a really good lesson to learn – it needs to be able to fit in the truck! “I was working for a PA hire company in Luton and knew Charlie quite well. He was looking for somewhere to set up his own business, so he rented a little bit of space in our warehouse. My background was in engineering, working as a precision fitter machinist, and I thought, ‘this might be an opportunity to get off the road,’ so I hooked up with Charlie and we rented a small unit in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. It was about 800 square feet, but there was little work around at that time. I’d recently built a studio for Herbie Flowers, the bass player for Sky, in West Hampstead, and Sky were about to go on the road. So our first project was building the risers for them out of aluminum – that was unusual because most risers were made out of steel or wood – we were probably the first to do aluminum in the UK.” Images: PopMart, U2, 1997