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Our Trip To Metallica: A Backstage View

Metallica Live in Birmingham, Genting Arena

Joe Hughes-Stainsby – 2nd year, Live Events Production student

On 30th October, Backstage Academy were invited to a Metallica gig at the Genting Arena, Birmingham. The last show of their UK leg of the tour.

On arrival at the arena, we were introduced to Metallica’s Production Manager and were given our arena accreditation. From here, we were escorted backstage and were taken on a tour of the site. We got to see first-hand all the work that takes place backstage. It really did make us appreciate the unbelievable amount of effort which goes into a production of this size.

We were introduced to the sound engineers who gave us an insight into some of the obstacles that they must overcome to run a smooth successful show. For this gig, Metallica were performing ‘in the round’ which meant that no one from backstage could see the show except through monitors. We learnt that over time as the production crew got used to working with each other they could communicate through hand signals. Throughout the visit, the importance of communication with the artists and production was highlighted multiple times.

We also got the opportunity to meet Metallica’s Lighting Designer and Visual Operator. It became apparent that certain sacrifices must be made to run a show in different arenas. This particular set had been designed for high roof arenas and stadiums. However, in the UK, the roofs are often a lot lower than in other countries. This meant that automated parts of the set could not move the way they were originally planned and had to be made stationary.

Finally, before we enjoyed the show, we were taken on a VIP tour of the official ‘Metallica Museum’. The museum consisted of different awards, original tour posters, original lyrics, original instruments (which we were free to play with!) and other Metallica memorabilia.

It goes without saying that the band put on an amazing show. But it didn’t finish there… we were able to observe the arena Load-Out where we took notes of the running order and why certain things happened when they did.

It was a great experience for of us all. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like no other!


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