Backstage with Roger Barrett
This week, we go backstage with Roger Barrett, expert in anything and everything to do with the engineering of temporary structures for live events. As Technical Director of Star Live, Roger works to bring experiences to life, from world tours to major sporting events and sell-out festivals
From The Who at Hull City Hall, to Adele's iconic 2017 world stadium tour, and the London 2021 Olympics, keep reading to find out more about Roger's exciting career!
Can you tell us a bit about your role as Technical Director at Star Live and how you got into the live entertainment industry?
I started out working in a small theatre which couldn't stage plays on Sundays due to the licensing laws of the time, so they used to have concerts. As the only theatre tech prepared to work Sundays, I kept getting asked to fix the inevitably broken gear that the musicians brought with them.
From those contacts, I got a job with a pop group called Love Affair and within a week was driving them and their gear all over Europe. After quite a few tours I got the chance to work for one of the first touring audio companies and eventually left to set up my own business. I was always interested in the rigging and staging side of work and eventually both the company and I transitioned over to structures and rigging.
Post-COVID recovery, every is referring to this time as the new 'roaring 20s'. Has Star Live been busy with a suddenly jam-packed calendar of events for the next few years?
Yes, is the simple answer. We are definitely seeing clients wanting to make longer (and earlier) commitments to secure the services of key contractors, given the multitude of supply-chain issues affecting the industry.
Can you tell us about the most memorable project you’ve worked on?
I'm going to cheat and list 3:
- Introducing advanced venue rigging systems to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Basketball Arena, which is now the Beijing Cadillac Arena and China’s busiest arena venue.
- The Park Live fan zone in the middle of the River Lea in the Olympic Park for London 2012. First ever Fan Zone in an Olympic park and the second most visited Olympic venue in 2012.
- Adele’s record-breaking stadium tour of Australia and New Zealand, where our stage design enabled her to smash the attendance record at every venue we went to.
What's the most challenging aspect of your job that most people don't know about?
The responsibility of making sure that everything we do, anywhere in the world, is safe enough that no workers, performers, or member of the public get injured, especially in extreme weather events outdoors.
First gig, last gig?
The very first one I went to was The Beatles at the ABC Cinema in Hull.
The first one I got paid to work at was The Who at Hull City Hall (The Tommy Tour)
The last gig I was on-site for was Parklife in Manchester this summer.
Can you name a song or album that you have really been loving at the moment?
I've been having a phase of going back to some of the music that I was heavily involved in during my early days. Currently, its Aswad's Live and Direct, recorded live at Notting Hill Carnival (with me mixing the live sound) seems to be on repeat a fair bit. Mink DeVille not far behind.
Which artist/band/performer would you like to see perform at YTL Arena Bristol?
It's probably a function of getting old but most of them are (very sadly) no longer with us. However, of those that still are, it just has to be Massive Attack. First choice for the opening show in my humble opinion.
And finally, can you share a song you are loving at the moment so we can add it to our YTL Arena Backstage Pass playlist?
Manic Street Preachers - tough choice, so I'll go for 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next'
To listen to our Backstage Playlist on Spotify.
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