Vegas sensation precedes Bros reunion with one-off at The SSE Arena

In the late ’80s, it was impossible to escape clean-cut boy band Bros.

With their No.1 ‘I Owe You Nothing’ amongst a pile of Top 10 hits and a sell-out concert at Wembley Stadium in August 1989, it seemed that the Goss twins could do no wrong until they broke the hearts of their teenage fans by calling it a day in 1992.

While drummer Luke went into the acting profession, frontman Matt began a solo career that took him to Las Vegas, where his six-year residency at Caesars Palace became one of the must-see shows on the famous Strip.

Shades of Matt’s swing-style Vegas production were present when Entec supplied a full lighting rig for his one-off show at Wembley’s SSE Arena on October 1st, coinciding with the release of his new single, ‘Gone Too Long’. But could there have been another reason for putting so much effort into a one night stand?

Rumours of a Bros reunion were secretly confirmed backstage, just a few days before the announcement of a summer 2017 tour went public. “We knew what was going on, of course,” said production manager Duncan Brignell, “and the investment in Matt’s single show then made sense, even though there was no sign of his brother Luke on stage.”

For the last 30 years, Brignell has made much of his living from producing exclusive private parties and special events. His long friendship with Matt Goss’s manager Rob Ferguson resulted in the opportunity to work on the Wembley show. He explained: “Rob often said we should work together on something and then this came up. He showed me a WYSIWYG design that, to my eyes, looked quite flat and I told him that I thought we could achieve some extra production value and excitement out of the same budget.”

Brignell turned to another old friend, lighting/show designer Svend Pedersen, for assistance. “Svend designed some looks that we loved and I looked at the practical, physical side, such as the stage decks and risers,” said Brignell. “Svend regularly uses Entec’s services and it was a company I was very much looking forward to working with. I remember watching ‘The Tube’ as a kid in the ’80s and seeing Entec’s logo all over the PA and flight cases. That was probably my first insight into the mechanics of event production and I later got to know Noreen O’Riordan through dry-hiring Entec’s stock.”

Unable to be present at Wembley, Pedersen brought in Dave Byars to see the project through as lighting operator. “I was very lucky to have Davey there,” said Brignell. Byars, who has also had a long association with Entec that dates back to working at the Marquee in 1989 and numerous Blur tours, commented: “Svend and I have done a lot of projects together, so it was easy to take the baton on this one. Despite the size of Wembley, the idea was to get as much out of as little equipment as possible, so we brought a lot of creative ideas to the table and were confident of what could be achieved.”

TWO SIDES

The show was divided into two distinct parts, the first being tailored around the swing music that has defined Goss’s Vegas career. For this portion, Byars achieved a range of moods and looks by projecting various colours and gradients from Martin MAC Aura XBs and Viper Profiles on to a rear grey voile drape – part of the elegant set dressing designed by Michaela Edwardes.

Part two of the show focused on Goss’s pop history. “That’s when I brought the lighting out into the audience, with Vari*Lite 3000 spot chases and [Thomas] 4-Lite Molefays,” said Byars. “In fact, we had a lot of conventionals on this gig with tons of ETC Source Fours on the front truss, and it seemed perfect for this type of show.”

Benefitting from the support of Entec lighting crew chief Will Wright and his technician colleagues Simon Chandler-Honnor and Sudip Shretha, Byars was operating his own Avolites Sapphire Touch with his trusty Tiger Touch as a back-up. He commented: “We didn’t have the luxury of production rehearsals so having my own desk meant that I could do a lot of WYSIWYG preparation at home.

There were some last-minute things that Matt demanded when we shoehorned a production meeting into the schedule just 20 minutes after the doors opened, such as having a backlight on him when he was at the piano. I just had to work those moves out on the hoof.”

“There were several ‘lastminute.com’ aspects to the day,” laughed Brignell. “If I had a fiver for every time I heard the question, ‘when are we getting a set list?’, I’d have come away quite rich. A lot of people behind the scenes were working on other things like afternoon meet and greets, so it was pandemonium at times but I’m used to that. I do ‘pandemonium’ regularly!

“Having Davey on our side was a huge bonus because nothing fazes him. For a show of that size, it was a bit of a busk but if the client’s happy, you can rest easy. Everyone seemed over the moon about the show and we are looking at bringing the bulk of the crew and suppliers back for the Bros tour, which will be great fun.”

Show photography © Neil Lupin neillupin.com
Crew photography by Mark Cunningham