Because it was the first tour for Ozzy Osbourne and BLACK SABBATH in nearly a decade, the staging had to be as dramatic as the event itself. custom theatrical drapery manufacturer Sew What? Inc. was called upon to create a massive three-dimensional set for the rock concert tour through which huge LED video monitors blast live close-ups of the performers for all to see.
Sew What? creative director Shane Nelsen worked with acclaimed production company Silent House to design the towering, innovative free-form set units. The challenge was to select materials that fit emotionally with the character of the artists and their music, produce widely varying effects based on the changing lighting, allow for seamless integration with the LED video monitors, and travel well throughout the entirety of the tour.
The sets employ a flame retardant Black Commando Cloth base with holes cut to accommodate the LED monitors, covered with Black Sharkstooth Scrim fabric so that the monitors can shine through the scrim. Then Silver Metal Mesh was crushed up and applied to the band's backdrop in order to finish the free-form textured "heavy metal" look.
Nelsen said that the collaborative process involved numerous meetings with Silent House as the sets were taking shape. "This was a huge, fantastic project for us, and we expect to see more of the same as rock tours are becoming more like Broadway shows nowadays," he said. "We love the fact that Silent House didn't just use us to fabricate the sets but partnered with us to create and realize a vision. They came to us with the basic drawings but didn't know how to implement or amplify the concepts and that's where Sew What? really shines. We bring our creative thinking to the party."
One of the exciting features of the Silver Metal Mesh exterior, Nelsen noted, is that the material has its own translucency, so it can be front-lit, up-lit, side-lit or back-lit and create amazing dimensionality. In concert with the qualities of the Sharkstooth Scrim, the range of illusions is endless. "The lighting people can really have fun with a set like this," commented Nelsen.
As creative director, Shane Nelsen brings to Sew What? Inc. clients an extensive 30-year background in art direction and production design, having designed for film, amusement parks, rock videos, television, and premier special events. "Clients come to us with ideas and rough sketches all the time," he said. "My job is to help them turn their ideas into finished staging that positively wows their audiences."
The BLACK SABBATH tour is scheduled for its North American run, commencing July 25 in Houston and running through September 3 in Los Angeles.
Fan-filmed video footage of BLACK SABBATH's entire April 27 performance at Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia can be seen below.