Billboard Names Coldplay’s Spheres as one of the Year’s Top 5 Concert Special Effects

It was a year in which Rammstein blasted plumes of fire from a backpack, The Weeknd destroyed a miniature city in a hurricane of black smoke, Pepe Aguilar sang on horseback amid Aztec warriors and equestrian acrobats and Elton John gave a “Rocketman” tour of space from a video screen that bled into the stage, artists provided fans with endless stadium explosions and other over-the-top spectacles. Even though inflation and supply-chain issues considerably jacked up expenses for 2022’s biggest tours, cutting corners was not an option. “It’s really important that we don’t short-change anybody,” David Furnish, John’s husband and manager, told Billboard in November, just before the singer’s final U.S. farewell tour show.

Coldplay’s LED spheres

After Coldplay‘s designer approached Frederic Opsomer with the idea for a new effect— hovering spheres festooned with LED strips— his staff at PRG Projects began two months of problem-solving. First, they considered “hardshell with a trussing system inside.” But that could have required seven or eight trucks with a crew of more than 60, which was unsustainable given the band’s mandate to be environmentally conscious. “We have to come up with another way,” Opsomer, PRG’s VP of Global Scenic, told the staff. So they concocted inflatable spheres, tested lightweight fabric coatings and determined they could fit in a fractional portion of a truck with just one crew member for maintenance. After accounting for rainy and windy stadium conditions, they built structures for the tour that began in March and tested them in factory settings, but didn’t feel fully comfortable until they lit up in bright colors on the first date. “How did we celebrate?” Opsomer asks. “I think we had a big smile on our face.”

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