On the 23rd April Ed Sheeran kicked off his largest world tour to date in Croke Park Stadium, Dublin. The last time Ed hit the road was for his record-breaking ‘Divide Tour’ in 2017-2019, which became the most-attended and highest-grossing tour ever, by the time of its completion.
This time fans get to experience a new production set-up with Ed’s staging in-the-round, surrounded by the crowd. This intimate 360 degree stage set-up consists of a central revolve stage surrounded by six 30 meter high masts. Made from 7.5 tonnes of truss, the masts support a complex cable net system that enables 55 tonnes of kit to be suspended above the stage, including PA, lighting and the hero halo. This pioneering set up eliminates the need for a standard roof system resulting in vastly improved sight lines for fans.
As Technical Directors for this groundbreaking tour, we were responsible for the technical design and integration, alongside an expert team of production specialists and engineers including Mark Cunniffe (Creative Director), Chris Marsh (Production Director), Rasti Bartek (Structural Engineer) and Kevin Edwards (Technical Designer). Wonder Works co-director Jeremy Lloyd, who also worked on Ed’s ‘Divide Tour’, has designed numerous cable nets for Olympic Ceremonies in the past, but they have always been fixed to the stadium roof making this the first touring cable net ever to have been produced. Jeremy Lloyd, Co-Director, Wonder Works:
“I’ve been lucky enough to work on some amazing stadium tours over the years, but this one is up there! Touring a cable net on this scale has never been done before and to see it wow 80,000 revelers at Croke Park was an incredibly proud moment.”
The halo, a 21 meter diameter circular transparent LED screen, is suspended above the central performance area and can be lowered right down to the stage to surround Ed. Inside the halo there are 18 chandeliers made from Sceptron LED strips to illuminate Ed on stage. They can move with or independently from the halo to create a truly spectacular show.
As well as providing the framework for the cable net, each mast has 7 hoops containing lighting fixtures and LED display panels for added visuals. Also suspended from each mast is a 6m wide x 8m tall double sided LED display screen in the shape of a plectrum. CAD Designer, Estenia Williams had the job of recreating artwork from the album to adorn the frames of these giant plectrums.
For the first time Ed Sheeran will be joined by a band, with each member situated on their own ‘arrow stage’ at the base of the masts. With no roof to the stage set up, each arrow has a small roofette to protect the musicians from the rain. Everything else on set, including speakers and lighting are either waterproof or protected with a weatherproof cover, making it a truly robust and versatile touring stage.
Much like U2’s award winning 2009 stage, ‘The Claw’, which was transported to 30 countries around the globe for the band’s iconic 360° tour, Ed’s pioneering cable net stage takes just 4 days to build on each site. This is an impressive build time for what Frontier Touring describes as a “cutting-edge production – the likes of which have never been seen before”.
Creative Director – Mark Cunniffe, Production Director – Chris Marsh, Production Manager – Helen Himmons, Tour Manager – Mark Friend, Stage Manager – Matt Caley, Site Managers – Ben Johnstone & Harry Ford, Technical Design and Coordination – Wonder Works, Structural Engineering – Cundall, Audio System Design – Charlie Albin, Video System Design – Phil Mead, Steel System Fabrication – Stage One, Stage Fabrication – Tait, Set Fabrication – WiCreations, Plectrum Fabrication – Twenty-Three, Audio Supplier – Major Tom Touring, Video Supplier – Colonel Tom Touring, Lighting Supplier – LCR, Pyro Supplier – Pains Fireworks