West London, UK-based Entec Sound & Light co-ordinated the full European touring production package and sourced key crew for the recent X Japan tour, and also supplied lighting equipment.
This was the first foray into Europe for the cult Japanese heavy metal superstars founded in 1989, who reformed in 2009 having disbanded in 1997 at the peak of a remarkable career in Japan. They have recorded four studio albums and sold over 30 million records and two million home videos.
Entec was brought in by the band's tour director Richard Ames who, due to his own busy schedule touring with Supertramp in Canada, realised that it would be a practical and tactical decision to get an experienced Europe-based rental company onboard to advance and handle all aspects of the tour, including crewing and sorting all the technical production departments.
"I specifically wanted a company that was dynamic and agile, with the resources and ability to deal with finer details and some of the more esoteric requirements - like masseurs and teleprompters - as well as the bigger picture and all the more standard production requirements,” he said, adding that it was also vital that they had a harmonious relationship with other technical suppliers.
The Ames/Entec connections date back to the 1970s in various forms; however, this is the first time that they have worked directly together.
The venues ranged from 1,000-capacity theatres to 6,000 seated arenas – a mix of flown and ground supported - all of which presented their own individual challenges.
In addition to bringing together sound, lighting and video elements, Entec also booked the buses, trucks and catering, appointed a production manager, LD and a stage manager and also supplied the lighting system from their own hire stock.
The month timeframe was extremely tight to get everything sorted, and the other issue was that it took place amidst one of the busiest two week periods of the UK summer festival calendar, with major events like Glastonbury and T In The Park, seeing all the regular leading industry players already at capacity.
Entec booked Wembley Arena for three days of production rehearsals. The company brought in Simon Tutchener as the production manager, Chris Gadd as stage manager and John Ashton as production rigger, with Richard Ames flying in from the US in time to take up the management reins after the first show in London, with everything set up and ready to roll.
Entec worked with Concert Sound Clair, agents for Clair Global to supply the sound equipment. X Japan's FOH engineer ML Procise III specs Clair PA systems for all their live work and this was the system he wanted, which was co-ordinated between Entec and Andy Davies.
Icarus Wilson-Wright was asked to design video playback and visuals system and run the playback, which was stored on a media server and played out to onstage Spider 30 LED surfaces supplied by CT.
Entec asked Phil White to create a lighting design that would work and look fabulous in all of the venues - from Shepherds Bush Empire to Paris Zenith, and they also supplied all the lighting equipment and two crew. The rig included VARI*LITE 3000 and Martin MAC 700 moving heads, about 20 bars of 6 PARs and a grandMA console for control.
The backline consisted of kit from a combination of John Henry's and Music Bank.
Knowing the importance of keeping any crew happy, particularly during a hectic schedule like this, Eat To The Beat were booked to keep the gastronomy flowing, Fly By Night took care of the trucking and four crew and band buses were sourced from four different companies - due to almost all vehicles in the UK being pre-booked during this period!
The band's management X Project Live arranged an eight camera video record by The 400 Company to collect footage of the London and Paris shows for a future DVD.
The European tour was apparently such a great success that X Japan will be taking some crew from it on to the next sections, which will see them play South America and Asia later in the year.