Brilliant Stages has built huge complex stages for Muse’s previous world tours, but the Drones World Tour was different. This time Muse performed in the 'round' with spectacular Drones flying around the stage during the performance. This meant that there had to be a large bespoke aerial structure above where the band were performing.

Once the ideas for the tour were ready to make the leap from napkins to concrete designs, Oli Metcalfe entered the frame. One of the first things that he brought to the table was the need for a raised stage, which the crew affectionately referred to as the ‘Space Station’. The impressive aerial structure was made up of 12 separate custom-made pods and housed the majority of the lighting fixtures, projection and videos screens, roll-drops and not to mention the Drones - otherwise known as HFOs (helium filled objects) – along with several crew members who called the area home for several hours every night.

The roll-drops, a new emerging technology, allow innovative visuals and interactive elements to be projected onto specialist fabric. For the Muse tour, each unit had an automated projection surface that measured 13m long and 2.8m wide. They hung 20 drops from the central space-station and had a storm of interactive visuals (created by Moment Factory) including gyrating apocalyptic figures, epic slow motion sci-fi riots, performer tracking video, and a few high-tech surprises.

Brilliant Stages Director, Ben Brooks, talked about some of the technical challenges that we faced: “Oli came to us at the end of 2014 with the tour concept. Touring in the round is always tricky and brings its own challenges; the one that jumped out at first was the issue of weight. As we started getting into the design we knew we had to put everything in the roof. It became apparent that the design was going to have to be incredibly modular with the structure holding all the tech equipment. It needed to be fitted together and flown as one piece. What we eventually created was a world upstairs made up of 12 pods; four audio pods, one automation pod, two Neg Earth Lights pods, one for video and a welfare pod.” Brooks added that Brilliant Stages also had to include 21 axis of motion control for the roll drops that were used at several points in the show to project video content. These were hung on the underside of the Space Station.

The crew was also made up of seven carpenters. Jem Nicholson, Head Carpenter talked through the stage build on the day: “With a 360° show like this one, one of the main problems you have is floor space. In venues with small floor space we often struggle and we have an incredibly specific order in which we load in and build, as with the load out. One of the main things is that we don’t start building the stage on the floor until the Space Station is up in the air.”

Tony Bowern, Managing Director of Brilliant Stages, added: “This was a groundbreaking and specialised challenge that incorporated all of the technical elements necessary to run a wonderful show from an elevated position.”