Mumford & Sons first approached STUFISH to produce some concepts for their upcoming ‘Delta’ arena tour in late 2017. As the new music evolved and the themes came to the forefront, the fundamental feeling from the band was to be able to connect with each member of the arena audience in a truly immersive experience. We also collaborated with the theatrical and creative force Punchdrunk on the final concepts for the show. The show opened in Dublin on 15th November 2018 and will tour through the UK, USA and Europe throughout 2019.
Creatively, the band wanted to find a way to develop and extend their performance into the audience and give people more people a front row experience.
They wanted to capture the intimacy of a smaller space but create a massive spectacle within the arena that would backup all the different timbres of their early and more recent musical styles.
This desire to be close-up with more of the audience drove the band to experiment with playing in-the-round for the first time. We explored several initial designs to try and find a new and innovative way to deliver intimacy on a grand scale.
We wanted to create a pure statement in the room that would redefine the band’s connection with each other and with their audience.
We evolved the design into a stage that straddles the full width of the arena and extends right into the seats of the bowl allowing the band to get really close to the crowd in a way that other artists have not done before. The stage steps up into the seats to create a connection across the room. This means that there is a continuous human energy between the sat audience, the stage, the performers and the stood crowd on the floor. The band are surrounded on all four sides by people and this allows them to perform in a very different way to how they have ever done before.
A series of musical instruments and different microphone positions allow the band to constantly move around to energise the audience. The show is split into five acts; three music sets on the main stage and two acts on the alternate ‘screamer’ stages in the seats.
The ability to perform the more grass valley, acoustic music in these areas creates an emotional connection with the crowd.
The materiality of the stage looks like a concrete slab with copper metallic grill border trim. These materials were chosen to reflect the light and make the structure feel more of a piece of architecture rather than a traditional stage.
The stage is the home for not only the four band members but also five additional musicians and a whole host of backline technicians and monitor engineers. We created two bunker spaces at each end of the stage that house the technical equipment, multiple instruments and the opposing drumkits that are played throughout the show.
The stage steps up and covers over the audience egress and continues into the seats. Lighting and pyrotechnics speakers are integrated into these stages to create a very clean onstage look.
Complimenting the stage design is 22 kinetic lighting structures that hang from a complex automation grid over the stage. Integrated with the in-the-round PA system the lighting rig continually transforms creating a sculpture of light over the heads of the band. The two sided design of the stage is mirrored in the way the rig bends, twists and folds through the different songs. These pods can fly low into the stage to create a real tension between the ground and the sky. The lighting rig concept is designed in collaboration with lighting designers Ed Warren and Phil Kiakoura.
The final element of the design is a series of four projection gauzes that hang in the quadrants of the room. These see through surfaces show the live images of the band. These screens allow the audience to feel even closer to the band and immerse the room in their energy. In the context of the in-the-round, the audience can always see the faces of the band even if they are not physically facing them at the time.
This show design redefines the in-the-round concept and creates an immersive and intimate experience that has left audiences emotionally engaged with the band and delivered the music in a new way.