Totally fab… then and now

Entec celebrates 30 years on a long and winding road with the famed tribute act.

The Bootleg Beatles wrapped up 2023 by touring the UK, painfully aware that this was the end of the year that witnessed the tragic summer passing of co-founder and partner, and original ‘George Harrison’, Andre Barreau.

“It’s hit us all hard and I miss Andre so much, as we all do,” said Neil Harrison who, as ‘John Lennon’, founded the band with Andre in 1980. “He knew The Beatles’ history with forensic detail and was able to direct the authenticity of the costumes, the video content and the music with absolute precision.”

At a time when the tribute band market was non-existent, the Bootlegs’ ascent began in pubs and small clubs, and rose as headliners at the London Palladium where roller blind-type drapes indicated set changes. “It was all very Heath Robinson,” recalled Harrison. “That was the point at which Entec came in, and they’ve been helping us to realise our production dreams ever since.”

Entec’s arrival in 1993 roughly coincided with that of Raj Patel, the Bootlegs’ affable company manager. “I don’t see Entec as an entity outside of the Bootleg Beatles’ umbrella because they’ve outlasted every other supplier we’ve hired, and that record will never be broken,” Patel said.

“One of the biggest changes over the years has been to specify moving LED lights for things like key lighting, that were previously handled by conventional fixtures,” Lighting Designer, Fraser Elisha said. “They inevitably require much less truck space and set-up time.”

For 2023’s September-October run, the band travelled with Entec Lighting Technician, Leo Tierney and a back truss of Ayrton Eurus, Elation Dartz 360 and Martin Professional MAC Aura XBs in addition to each venue’s house rig. The production expanded for the pre-Christmas tour as the Bootlegs played a range of larger UK venues with Rich Hoxley joining Leo as his ‘number two’.

“We are now carrying a front truss with Martin MAC Viper Profiles and Martin Aura XBs, plus additional washes,” Elisha explained. “The Auras give us a nice wash and we’ll look for other options to add an extra something.”

Other fixtures among Entec’s kit for the December tour included a return for the Eurus, along with full-colour ROXX Cluster B4s, Showtec Vintage Blaze 55s, StageBar2s and a range of spares. Fraser piloted an MA Lighting grandMA2 lite on the road with a back-up at hand. “It’s probably the most frequently specified desk in the world means that you can find one anywhere, and that’s sometimes a huge advantage when we play abroad.”

According to Harrison, the team works with a finite array of songs and costumes but gives each tour its own subtle flavours. “We shuffle the pack and often theme the show around an album anniversary,” he explained. “We’re keen to inject appropriate video content when those events arise, and that’s another way of keeping it fresh.”

Andre Barreau’s quick mind and encyclopaedical knowledge of The Beatles informed many decisions, according to Elisha. “Andre had a back story for every song, and it was very interesting to learn the reasons behind some of the lighting moods that he wanted. When we get into the last section, with Abbey Road and Let It Be, beams play a big part in the stage look.”

Fraser’s responsibilities have recently extended to managing the video content. “I used to spend a day or two in Entec’s Northolt warehouse with Andre to programme the Catalyst files and making notes on cues. With his passing, I’ve taken this onboard myself,” he commented, praising Entec. “I’ve always had a healthy relationship with Entec. Noreen [O’Riordan, Entec Managing Director and Head of Lighting] couldn’t be more helpful if she tried. If I ever want to look at a new piece of kit, she goes the extra mile to accommodate me, and it’s always a friendly, open house.”

O’Riordan concluded: “We are proud to support The Bootleg Beatles. Their attention to detail is contagious, and everyone who works on the show develops the same enthusiasm and sense of privilege. We look forward with pride to the next 30 years!”

Words: Mark Cunningham

Photo: Alex Williams