Claypaky hits the road with Metallica

Photo: Ralph Larmann

Metallica’s ongoing M72 World Tour began its 2024 dates with the lighting design that Rob Koenig introduced in 2023 which featured 48 Claypaky Sharpy Plus Aqua IP66-rated beam and spot fixtures.

The tour maintained an upgraded in-the-round stage design by Creative Director and Production Designer Dan Braun, which relocated the coveted audience “Snake Pit” to the centre of a ring-shaped stage surrounded by eight towers, each topped by LED video cylinders.

“This is the first time that Metallica has performed in the round for a stadium tour,” said Koenig, who heads LA-based Ignition Show Design and is marking his sixteenth year with the band. ”They have done other shows in the round since 1996 and love feeling closer to the audience that way. But it’s a massive undertaking for a stadium tour requiring about 22 trucks for the steel [towers] alone.”

He noted that Metallica typically perform with no repeats during their usual two-day stay at each venue. “Lars (Ulrich) creates a new set list every night, none exactly the same, so as is the goal for every show, we truly strive to have every song look unique, as we don’t know the setlist for that evening until our openers are on,” Koenig explained.

In looking for a fixture to wrap around the tour’s ring-shaped stage, he discovered that the Claypaky Sharpy Plus Aqua offered the zoom range he wanted: “The fixtures give us a lot of flexibility from performing aerial effects to throwing them back onto the band and painting the band with light and gobos,” Koenig said.

He positioned 48 Sharpy Plus Aquas, supplied by Premier Global Productions in Nashville, around the outer edge of the ring where they are used selectively for different numbers. For example, they act as straight up beams for “The Day That Never Comes,” while they replicate the look of the towers’ video content for “If Darkness Had a Son” with a wide zoom and animation wheel elements across the band.

“The Sharpy Plus Aquas have performed admirably,” reported Koenig. ”They have been super-low maintenance, which is very important for this tour since every light in the rig has to be touched because there is no traditional truss.”

He also cited the fixtures’ IP66 rating: “We haven’t had a drop of water get in them despite torrential downpours and there’s been no effect from the smoke and dust generated by pyro, hazers and foggers on stage.” Koenig said the tour had been ‘supported amazingly well’ by Claypaky Strategic Marketing Manager, George Masek. “We all have a lot of love and affection for him,” he declared.

The tour’s Production Manager is John Mulder with Joe Cabrera and Cat West the Lighting Programmers. The Account Rep for Premier Global Productions is James Vollhoffer; Anthony “Geddy” Kordyjaka is the Project Manager and Mat Gass the LX Crew Chief.

“It is always a huge honour to be part of Rob’s Metallica shows and we were thrilled that he chose us for this incredibly ambitious project. I’ve been following his work since he started with the band and his shows are consistently cutting edge and original,” Masek concluded.