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Iron Maiden “Legacy of the Beast” Tour

PLSN Staff • November 2019Wide Focus • November 10, 2019

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

We caught Iron Maiden, one of the most successful and iconic heavy metal bands in the world, for their Legacy of the Beast tour, at the tail end of the North American leg. This tour is getting rave reviews, some saying it’s one of their best with the band in top form, with great staging and production. We spoke with the band’s longtime lighting designer, programmer and director Robert Coleman and with Pyrotek president and CEO Scott Dunlop.

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

Robert Coleman
Lighting Designer, Programmer & Director

Robert Coleman has been working for Iron Maiden since 2006. Coleman explains, “My good friend Martin Brennan had been the LD for about 10 years up until that point, but was unable to do the 2006 “Matter of Life and Death” tour, so he designed and programmed that tour. I began as his operator and gradually took over from there. The design concept always comes via the band and management.”

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

With the band and management’s tour design concept in mind, the set designers at Hangman work on the stage set, props, and so on before the project gets handed over to Coleman for lighting. “This works out well for me, as I never have the pressure of starting with an empty canvas,” Coleman says. “As far as the choice and positioning/distribution of fixtures, this is all down to me, subject to their approval. The band likes the movement and drama they used to get from using large amounts of par cans… so that’s why we went with using the groups of [Martin] MAC Auras in the way we did.

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

“I try not to get too attached to any particular fixture. Iron Maiden is a global band, and they expect to be able to create the same show, whether it’s El Salvador or Berlin, so our designs are more about the positioning of the fixtures and less about the attributes of any particular light. I created the design needing wash, spots and beams. Claypaky is a great brand, but then so are Robe, Martin, Ayrton… so sometimes, I use Sharpys, but other times Pointes; sometimes Scenius Spots, sometimes BMFL spots… but they all look great. We switched from BMFL washes to Ayrton Bora Wash lights for this tour, as I particularly liked the frames, and that gave me ability to shutter off extraneous light around the back drops. That’s about the only light I really came to depend on.”

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

Coleman says that, like most people his age, he started out with Avo desks, but then he switched to the Hog 2 when he started doing more full production tours. “Then I moved on to the Hog 3, which was perfect for the type of touring I was doing with Iron Maiden. I preferred the patching and fixture swapping to the grandMA1, and now I use the Hog 4. I have always had great support, and have been included in various forums and conferences regarding their development, and so on. I’m happy using MA desks too, but Hog will always be my first language, I suppose.”

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

Coleman notes that with six musicians, 10 backdrops, one spitfire, one demon, one Icarus, one walking “Eddie” mascot, gargoyles, prison bars, barbed wired fences, stained glass windows, etc., “it’s an absolute pleasure to have something physical to light, something that the audience needs to see. I’m so grateful our show isn’t just a video wall and 200 lights facing the audience. I like to put on a light show, but it’s also important to know that sometimes my role is as supportive as it is creative. All departments have to work together, and ideally an audience member shouldn’t really be able to tell where one department starts and another ends.”

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

Coleman says the biggest challenge of this tour is trying to maintain the continuity all over the world, and for this, he says production manager Patrick Ledwith, Antti Saari and head rigger Steve Walsh work tirelessly. “Antti’s role was originally lighting crew chief, but he has since become responsible for the coordination and positioning of the technical elements of the show. There’s a lot squeezed into and above the stage, so everything from the automation of the spitfire to dropping Hangman’s nooses, the way the truss borders dress the lighting trusses and all the cable management have become his responsibility. So when doing festivals and one-offs, I think he has more weight on his shoulders than I do.

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

“I’d just like to say that this has been my favorite Iron Maiden tour to date,” Coleman concludes. “The concept is fantastic, the set list is perfect, Hangman did a great job with the stage set, and Ken “Pooch” Van Druten’s FOH sound is unbelievable. It’s an absolute honor to be a part of something like this. Thank you to everyone involved.”

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

Scott Dunlop
President & CEO,
Pyrotek Special Effects

Pyrotek has been working with Iron Maiden since their 2008 North American tour, Somewhere Back In Time, and have come to know the band and production team very well, says Scott Dunlop, noting that special effects technician Keith Maxwell has been with the crew since that time.

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

“Iron Maiden is well-known for taking a very ‘thematic’ approach to the use of special effects in their production,” Dunlop continues. “Their goal is not to overwhelm the show with flames, but rather to use special effects to tastefully enhance the theatrical performance. The Legacy of the Beast tour allowed many opportunities for this approach to thrive. The trajectory of the show takes the audience through four specific moods or themes: war, religion, hell and damnation. The band had several ideas early on of some specific looks they wanted to create using flames and pyro and this culminated in a variety of great moments during the show.”

Dunlop notes that white flash pots were used to simulate a musket shot in “The Trooper,” silver airbursts were used in “Sign of the Cross,” mortar hits and silver gerbs were used in “Run to the Hills,” two inverted Five Master flame units were used in “Flight of Icarus” and six liquid flame units and two low lying fog units were used throughout the show. Four propane/butane flaming baskets, designed to look like coal-burning braziers, were also used throughout the performance. In addition, Bruce Dickinson uses a Galaxis H-Flame unit, a backpack-mounted flame thrower, during “Flight of Icarus.”

Pyrotek organizes the technicians for all the tours that it works on, drawn from a large roster of personnel who have worked with, and grown with, the company over many years. “Keith Maxwell and Eric Muccio are seasoned professionals who form the anchor of our team on Iron Maiden, supported by numerous other personnel in the areas of logistics, permitting, technical support and fabrication across our various facilities.

“The Legacy of the Beast tour has been widely acknowledged as one of the best Iron Maiden shows ever,” Dunlop concludes. “It is an awe-inspiring production that serves as fitting testament to the iconic nature of the classic Iron Maiden songs in the set list, and it’s been a great honor to help the band and the production team use different special effects to bring the stories of these songs to life on stage.”

IRON MAIDEN © Steve Jennings

Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast Tour

Crew

  • Lighting Designer, Programmer & Director: Robert Coleman
  • Lighting Co: Neg Earth
  • Lighting Crew Chief: Antti Saari
  • Lighting Techs: Damon Coad, Euan Odd, Mark “Ethnic” Cooper, Dominic Martin, Mike Blundell
  • Tour Manager: Ian Day
  • Production Manager: Patrick Ledwith
  • Production Assistants: Zeb Minto, Kerry Harris
  • Stage Manager: Gary Workman
  • Staging/Automation/Backdrops: Hangman
  • Automation: Erik Blomdahl
  • Special Effects: Pyrotek Special Effects
  • Pyro Techs: Keith Maxwell, Eric Muccio
  • Riggers: Steve Walsh, Dan Wideman
  • Carpenters: Adam Cavanagh, Jem Matthews, Jack Davies, Steve Joy, Adam Ford
  • Trucking Co: Upstaging

Gear

  • 1       Road Hog 4 Lighting console
  • 42     Ayrton Bora fixtures
  • 33     Claypaky Scenius Spots
  • 30     Claypaky Sharpys
  • 24     Claypaky Sharpy Washes
  • 22     Vari-Lite VL6000 Beams
  • 118  Martin MAC Auras
  • 14     Thomas 8 Lites
  • 14     Chroma-Q Color Force 72’s
  • 1       Martin MAC Viper Performance
  • 6       Hazers

 

More Iron Maiden “Legacy of the Beast” Tour Photos by Steve Jennings:

 

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