Wherever they were in the stadium, Ed’s fans got the best view possible thanks to a rotating in-the-round stage, a concept originally pioneered in a touring capacity by TAIT’s founder in the 1970s. The setup was designed and manufactured by our team in Lititz and measures 36 ft across. The main stage was created using the interlocking TAIT Mag Deck system with LED video tiles integrated directly into the decks.
Within the stage’s video floor were 14 scissor lifts that could be raised to form four sets of steps at 90 degrees to one another, leading to a square center platform. Each scissor lift had a custom mirror fascia surround applied to all four sides and each was updated for compatibility with our TAIT Navigator Automation Platform™. One lift operates for Ed’s back line technician when he has a guitar change or breaks a string. It also doubles as an entrance for guest artists to appear from under the stage directly into the center of the show.
Navigator’s integration features were used to stream live lift-position data from the automation system into lighting tracking software. This allowed seamless integration of other technical partner services, ensuring the automation elements of the show could run faultlessly night-after-night. A member of TAIT Crew was also on hand for the tour to run all of our automation controls, using Navigator’s IP-camera integration feature to maintain an above-stage view of action above.
Around the edge of the stage, we created a custom-built ‘annulus’ turntable that rotated at up to 1 m/s around the circular video floor. The annulus added an extra 20 ft to the diameter of the stage and incorporated a custom inlay featuring mathematical signs in line with the tour’s theme. Ed could focus on performing while the annulus moved him around the circumference of the stage during his host of breakthrough hits. Ed Sheeran regularly uses a loop pedal to layer his music. To ensure that this pivotal piece of his performance is never far from his feet, four are positioned on the annulus. Since the annulus revolves for the whole show regardless of where Ed is on stage, connectivity to each set of loop pedals was essential for continual 360° revolutions and was solved by TAIT’s expertise with Cisco fluid-mesh wireless networking infrastructure.
In between the main stage and annulus and on the outside of the stage were two custom circular sets of grille decks that served as lighting troughs, adding the finishing touch to what was already a spectacular stage.
We like to make sure our artists are ready for anything, so we supplied a custom rain roof to fit over the stage just in case the heavens opened during Ed’s set.
“A crucial achievement was engineering a stage substructure that could accommodate the wide variation in venue floor-flatness encountered on this type of touring show, that also enabled precision levelling of the 14 lifts, each of which was topped with LED-screen-flooring, to enable them to maintain pixel-perfect alignment.” – Philip Mitchell, Senior Project Manager, TAIT
Aligning with the client’s creative vision is a fundamental part of our process, but we always keep one eye on practicality to ensure the stage is as usable as it is aesthetically pleasing. With that in mind, the stage’s underworld was designed to be as user-friendly for the crew as possible, making it easy for them to access important elements and move around during the show with four substage access doorways.
Thanks to our partners Technical Designer Jeremy Lloyd; Show Designer Mark Cunniffe; Production Director Chris Marsh; and Photographer Ralph Larmann.