Following the tragic stage collapse on the Radiohead tour in Toronto earlier in the year, LS-Live was brought in to redesign the set and rebuild components in order to get the production back on the road.
Richard Kent at Aerial Rigging Techniques and Radiohead production manager Richard Young met with LS-Live general manager Ben Brooks at Elstree Studios to review the damage.
“We were greeted by mounds of bent metal and the remainder of the keys from Thom Yorke’s piano,” Brooks said. “It was one of those moments where you’re overwhelmed with the thought, ‘I hope this never happens to me’. It puts into question everything that you do.”
With no drawings of the original set available, the LS-Live team had to start from some photographs, what they had been told and the wreckage. The six winch frames from the upstage row in the roof had badly bent side plates and the six downstage ones that took most of the impact on collapse were completely buckled.
The company used new aluminium for the replacement winch frames, cut using a specialist abrasive water jet technique because they were too thick for a laser. After machining, the team assembled the complete winch frames, installing fully tested slew motors and NDT (non-destructive testing) crack-checked cable management reelers.
LS-Live also re-designed the main truss system, to improve access and installation of the winch reels. The company worked with independent structural engineer Lee Coverley to ensure the new designs could safely accommodate the weight load, before commissioning James Thomas Engineering for the manufacturing.
“All at LS-Live had mixed feelings about this project,” structural and mechanical engineer, Mark Blount, said. “We’re very proud of what we have achieved, but Scott Johnson died in that stage collapse. You can mend metal, but that won’t bring him back.”