Over the past three decades, McLaren Engineering Group has made its mark on music history with work on six Rolling Stones concert tours! Our team has provided entertainment engineering for epic concerts beginning with the Voodoo Lounge Tour (the highest grossing tour at the time), Bridges to Babylon Tour, 40 Licks Tour, A Bigger Bang Tour (featuring the Stones’ largest concert), 14 On Fire Tour, and most recently, the No Filter Tour. The shows have included the largest sets ever envisioned, the tallest LED screens ever used for an outdoor concert and other illustrious features.
This European/North American tour utilized some of the tallest ever LED screens for outdoor concert use to create a towering and sleek visual display. McLaren was contracted by TDF Productions Inc. to perform a structural analysis of the four LED screens designed by Set Designer Ray Winkler of Stufish and Creative Director & Lighting Designer, Patrick Woodroffe. McLaren worked closely with Solotech and WI Creations, who provided the LED screen modules and framing system, to develop wind bracing back to the stage roof structure, which was supplied by StageCo. McLaren collaborated with these suppliers to develop a High Wind Action Plan (HWAP) for the screens and evaluated the custom frames that housed large moving lights.
When the Rolling Stones decided to repurpose previous show set designs for their “14 and Fire” tour, McLaren reviewed several large and complicated show elements and made recommendations to promote structural safety and adequacy. This included extra bracing, guidance for the head rigger, recommendations to protect the building and rigging, and chain hoist operation tips, to name a few. McLaren also developed structural engineering calculations of life-safety related in-scope elements furnished by scenic vendors, and for the equipment not properly rated, calculations reports were developed.
McLaren provided a HWAP that was an integral part into the Operations and Maintenance Plan. The HWAP included wind speed thresholds at which the fabric must be removed from the Stadium Portal, and when all Stadium Portal elements must be lowered to the ground and stowed. Due to the transient nature of the show set, each structural component was evaluated to determine its ability to be dismantled in the event that high winds occur or are forecast to occur at the venue.
This international tour featured a massive stadium stage structure, supported pyrotechnic effects, huge speaker clusters, hundreds of lights and thousands of square feet of high- and low-resolution video screens. McLaren engineers provided structural engineering, reviews, and certification for the 85-foot-tall, 200-foot wide stage structure and components. In addition to all this touring equipment, this enormous structure also supported two pairs of balconies, one 30 feet and the other 55 feet above the ground. Each of the four balconies supported 65 lucky fans that viewed these rock-and-roll legends from the stage structure itself. McLaren engineers reviewed and confirmed the safety and code compliance of each of stages unique access features, two large stair towers located in the rear of the stage structure and an ADA lift. McLaren engineers continued to assist the Rolling Stones throughout the touring process by working with local permitting agencies to explain safety features and to provide advice regarding protection of venue grounds and features. This tour also featured the Stones’ biggest concert of all time, with over 1.5 million attendees in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. McLaren engineers provided on-site inspection and consultation during the state erection process for many of the venues.
“40 Licks” played theatres, arenas and stadiums worldwide, featuring one of the largest sets ever envisioned at the time. The rear wall configuration alone, rose to over 80 feet. McLaren provided structural and mechanical engineering services as part of the staging and scenic elements for the tour. This included a 46 feet high by 52 feet wide moving screen as well as its associated driving mechanism and rigging, two sets of moving fabric panels, and a collection of belt driven elevators to support articulated lights. McLaren engineers provided structural development and analysis, performed finite elements and dynamic modeling of the structures and elements, and reviewed all systems for possible single point failure locations. McLaren also provided mechanical designs, assistance with the development and selection of mechanical components, on-site observations of this initial set-up, and periodic inspections of the set at various venues.
This worldwide concert tour celebrated the Rolling Stones’ Bridges to Babylon album and was designed as an eclectic representation of the seven deadly sins. Grossing over $274 million, it became the second-highest-grossing tour at that time (behind their Voodoo Lounge Tour). McLaren reviewed the calculations and drawings prepared by Atelier One for the band canopy, back wall, curtains, inflatables, bridge, bridge structure, side fill PA, jumbotron and fascia, column capitals, stage primary frame and fixed cladding, delay towers and mix position. The design drawings, provided by Tait Towers, were examined for performance and AISC and the Aluminum Association requirements. As a result of the examination, McLaren required additional safety supports to be added so the stage could monitor and withstand wind loads.
This was also the first tour where a B-stage was featured. A 160-foot-long telescoping bridge was designed to connect the two stages. The mechanical action was modeled on a ladder truck and deployed from the main stage, over the audience to the B-stage. McLaren provided structural development and analysis, performed finite elements and dynamic modeling of the structures and elements, and reviewed all systems for possible single point failure locations for this special structure. McLaren worked with multiple stakeholders to ensure this highly sensitive piece of machinery worked for this high grossing tour. Safeguards such as automatic cutouts were installed and periodic inspections were scheduled every 4th to 6th tour stop in the United States to maintain the integrity of both the equipment and the certification. The detailed site inspection checklist, and reporting cause of concern were integral to the bridge’s success.
The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge concert toured 40 venues across the United States and Canada. It featured a unique stage that was designed by Architect, Mark Fisher and Atelier One, and built to support the performers, sound equipment and a large screen during each of the performances. Complexities of the design included an irregularly shaped stage floor, consisting of several tiers, and two 60-foot high towers supporting an 18-ton public address system and rear wall trusses. McLaren provided engineering consultation to the team, and assisted with the conceptual design, design details and schematic drawings. McLaren examined codes at each tour location for suitability of design loads and material limitations.