When it comes to performing, Beyonce pushes the limits each and every time, delivering an exciting show that features some of the most cutting-edge hardware. The 17-time Grammy Award winner’s Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, which kicked off in Belgrade, Serbia and held 132 stops along the way, is no exception. The tour pleased fans with everything they could want in a show, from breathtaking spurts of fire to smooth transitions and top-notch sound. The tour worked with some of the most esteemed worldwide vendors, often supplying custom-made and brand-new equipment. Beyonce is known to be very involved in nearly every aspect of putting the tour together, yet the grandeur of the Mrs. Carter Show would not be as complete or successful if not for the all-star production team behind her. Let’s break it down:
A lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of tour production managers. They’re the ones usually in charge of drawing up contracts and permits, hiring staff, allocating budget, organizing travel arrangements, researching venues and equipment retailers and of course, advising the musician. They essentially work closely with all other departments involved in an artist’s tour. The two esteemed production managers for the Mrs. Carter Show, Alex Miasnikof (Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil) and Malcolm Weldon, needed to be flexible to accommodate Beyonce’s vision for the show, which developed from having a focus on video to a focus on lighting. As a result, the production managers were required to juggle the show’s vendors and technical elements to accommodate the changing vision. Miasnikof revealed that since a lot of the products were custom-built or brand new, vendor selection ended up being a long process and ultimately, 129 000 lb of equipment was used.
The audio supplier for the Mrs. Carter Show concert goers were wowed by Beyonce’s live vocal performancewas Eighth Day Sound Systems, a , Sennheiser mics were used all-around, both by Beyonce’s backup singers, as well as Queen B herself. Beyonce opted for her signature custom-made chrome-finish Sennheiser SKM 5200-II handheld transmitter with an MD 5235 capsule head, which Stephen Curtin, the front-of-house engineer, says is a perfect pairing for her powerful voice. The backup singers used the Seinnheiser 5005e capsules. Also, quality in-ear monitors are indispensable for musicians in order to reach consistent sound while performing. Everyone on the tour used the Sensaphonics brand for in-ears, the 2Max model being used by Beyonce, the backup singers and sound engineer Michael Gonzalez, while the band and technicians wore the 3Max model. Beyonce has a powerful voice that really resonates and since she strives for live performances to sound as much like the recorded versions as possible, the whole show is mixed live to achieve that effect. Using an Avid Profile, monitor engineer Daniel Gonzalez was the one in charge of mixing Beyonce, while James Corbin mixed the band using a DiGiCo SD7 desk. In order to project the sound in a crisp manner, the tour equipped d&b audiotechnik J-series speakers and it was System Technician and Audio Crew Chief Arno Voortman who took care of it. The speaker system was composed of 24 J-series, eight J subs, four J12s, 12 V12s and 12 B-2 subs per side. Although this is a lot of equipment, Voortman praised d&b for always facilitating a smooth set-up and constant on-call support.
Crazy in Light – Lighting
When Beyonce decided that she wanted her tour to be light-focused, oh boy did she ever get it! With the light set consisting of over a thousand separate pieces, it’s no surprise that The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour was the brightest show on a concert stage – ever! Multiaward-winning Production and Lighting Designer LeRoy Bennett worked with theatrical lighting companies Upstaging and Martin Professional to bring together 446 SGM X-5 strobes, 196 custom Martin Professional MAC 700 mirror fixtures, 208 Clay Paky Sharpys and a multitude of MAC Vipers, MAC Auras and Syncolites. The staple of the light system in the Mrs. Carter Tour was the interplay between the strobe lights and mirror fixtures, resulting in lights reflecting off the mirrors and dashing into multiple directions. Affectionately dubbed as the “Wall of Inferno”, the massive 24 feet by 60 feet (7.3m by 18.2m) wall of lights and mirrors was put together by staging company TAIT. Bennett praised the slim X-5 LED strobes for being versatile and light weight, yet having incredibly powerful capabilities: they contain 2,970 LEDs with a lifetime of 50 thousand hours. Lighting Director Whitney Hoversten was responsible for administering the design and putting the vision into reality. To control the Wall of Inferno, Hoversten used an MA Lighting grandMA2 desk. Both Bennett and Hoversten highlighted how supportive Upstaging was during the tour.
Chaos Visual Productions were the primary suppliers for the video and projector gear on tour. The gear consisted of two Green Hippo Hippotizer Genlock HD servers with dual HDSDI capture, two Barco HDFW26 projectors, two HD10K-M Christie projectors. A timecode control patch was used to sync the content. A huge moving video piece was also used, which CONSISTED of a 72.1-inch by 14.9-inch LED wall by Everbrighten. Kevin Carswell, the tour’s IMAG Director, and Visual Director at Parkwood Entertainment Ed Burke one of the most visually engaging shows The video content itself was produced by Parkwood Entertainment. In addition to the , manned by several Sony HTX cameras.
Beyonce’s Inferno – Pyro
On top of a fantastic light show, The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour spiced things up with pyrotechnics, confetti, lasers and CO2 units, most of which were provided by the company Strictly FX. The effects are distributed throughout the show at very choreographed and pre-determined times. The pyro designs were the result of a collaborative effort between the tour’s Creative Director Frank Gaston Jr. and the Strictly FX team. The first time Beyonce appears on stage, four MKII Venom flame cannons and 30 silver gerbs (the firework-like sparklers) ignite her entrance. The show also employed four confetti blowers, “pixie dust” confetti for Beyonce’s glide from Stage A to B at the end of her performance of 1+1, and an array of different-sized and different-coloured gerbs which were provided by pyrotechnics and special effects company Le Maitre. The confetti cannons were controlled wireless using a W-DMX Blackbox F-1. With the additional obstacle of Beyonce’s dance team and band occupying the stage, the artistic team had to also collaborate with the choreography department to create the pyro lineup.
Staging & Automation
Production Managers Alex Miasnikof and Malcolm Weldon worked with TAIT to design the dynamic and flexible assembly of stages for the tour. TAIT provided a rolling main stage featured an array of moving parts and mechanisms, including a retractable dance bar, pantograph stairs, an aluminum dance bar, five propane decks, Sniffer and Kabuki drapes band risers, and a flaggapault lift for Beyonce’s dramatic entrance on stage. The fixture housing the strobe light and mirror pair required precise engineering and assembly by TAIT to ensure the exact angle each part should align in order for every strobe to accurately reflect in the mirror. The task of operating the many moving parts of the stage feel to TK Woo, the Head of Automation, and his team, including the flying rig that flies Beyonce from the A stage to the B stage after the performance of her song 1+1. The rig included a custom foot plate for Beyonce’s comfort and safety.