The Rolling Stones 2019 tour: Bigger, better video screens bring Mick & Keith up close
The Rolling Stones’ No Filter tour – the first expansive U.S. swing in at least four years –is traversing the country this summer. Each time the rocking septuagenarians have conducted an extensive tour, fans have wondered whether that would be the last time.
But the Stones have constantly played some live shows across the globe each year since then, including hitting Desert Trip in California in 2016.
The stage setup for this tour, used in the No Filter shows last year in the U.K. and Europe, represents a technological advance that puts more focus on the Stones themselves, says Dale Skjerseth, the tour’s production director.
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In the past, Stones’ tours have involved majestic stage designs such as the Voodoo Lounge (1994-1995) and Steel Wheels (1989-1990) tours. And the band has incorporated large props including giant dragons, a blowup doll and, perhaps most famously, a giant inflatable male sex organ.
But this new stage design is streamlined with four six-story-tall LED video screens, each encompassing about 1.5 million pixels delivering super high-def footage of the band.
“The concept is them and their music,” Skjerseth said. “The quality of the video is the highest we can get at this point with this large of scale. After that, there’s a point you don’t want to go because it really shows items on peoples’ faces you don’t want to see.”
Skjerseth, who has worked on Stones tours since 1994, took time to talk about the tour here prior to the band’s concert at FedEx Field on July 3. The tour has 40 trucks that transport two sets of the massive, 70-foot steel structures that hold the video displays from venue to venue.
Each tour stop requires four days of setup – another steel apparatus was in Foxboro, Mass. for the next concert on the itinerary (Sunday, July 7). The setup in Washington was sent to New Orleans for a July 14 concert after it was taken down Thursday.
Another 25 trucks transport production equipment, including the video operation, which is housed under the stage. Overall, about 300 people –150 local workers and 150 who travel with the tour – help with the production, Skjerseth says.
The tour opened June 21 in Chicago after it was postponed for about two months when frontman Mick Jagger had heart valve replacement surgery.
Jagger has been super active and animated in the first shows on the tour. The stage includes a 104-foot runway that juts into the center of the stadium for the lead singer to scamper on.
The band seems rejuvenated, Skjerseth says. “I think it’s gone to that level with them coming back after Mick’s surgery (that) ‘We are really lucky to be all alive and well and happy.’ They all have always taken into account their fitness and their mindset and their drive for the show,” he said. “But it’s actually taken another step up to another level of being better. You wouldn’t notice Mick had (the heart operation). We all had to shift gears and slow down for a minute, but now we are in the groove.”
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