METALLICA's "WorldWired" set and stage design, designed by the show's director, Dan Braun, features an immersive concert experience with a 44' x 44' square main-stage equipped with several prop lifts located in the center of the arena.
Braun, who has worked with METALLICA since 1994, told OnMilwaukee about his latest creation: "This band hasn't stopped touring in 30 years, and they sell albums like crazy. When they announced 'WorldWired', they wanted to take the live shows to a whole new level. I did some sketches and showed to Lars [Ulrich, drums] and he was very excited. He made me promise not to show them to anybody until he could get the rest of the band to see them. James Hetfield [guitar, vocals] said, 'Go for it.'"
Asked how he takes something like that from the drawing board to reality, Braun said: "My path to success has always been team work. There is no 'I' in this business. There can't be, because there are multiple disciplines that have to come together to realize the dream. 'I' didn't build anything for METALLICA; 'we' did. It all starts with the band's vision. Without their input, you have nothing."
The "WorldWired" show features the touring industry's first autonomous indoor drone swarm, with 99 micro drones dancing like fireflies for the song "Moth Into Flame".
Hetfield has wanted to use drones in the show for several years, but as Braun pointed out to LiveDesign: "I used to say they weren't safe, so we sort of got away from the idea, but kept it on the back burner. Then I spoke with Adam Davis at TAIT, and he told us about their relationship with Verity and about the potential possibilities, and that's how we got into using drones on this tour. As the show's designer and director, I thought we should put them in 'Moth Into Flame', as it's been a very successful song for the band for a long time. And after the first night of the tour in Copenhagen, James said the drones were great, so we were happy, and we always want to keep the band happy."
TAIT, who custom built the in-the-round stage design for the "WorldWired" tour, worked with Verity Studios AG, the global leader in indoor drone technology, to store and deploy the drones.
"METALLICA's tour has a 360-degree stage, so the audience is all around the band," Bill Keays of Verity told LiveDesign. "There is no traditional backstage area on this tour, so the drones are deeply integrated into the stage setup. They are stored and charged below the stage, and touring staff places them onto stage lifts from below the stage just moments before the song. The lifts then come up and the drones perform in unison with METALLICA's song, which is approximately six and a half minutes long. The 99 drones then fly back into the stage lifts, where they are returned to storage by the touring staff."
METALLICA kicked off the 2018/2019 U.S. leg of the "WorldWired" arena tour on September 2 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
The band recently landed on Pollstar's Global Concert Pulse chart with concert grosses of more than $2 million per market appearance on METALLICA's last European tour.
Touring in support of its latest album, "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct", that arrived in November 2016, METALLICA launched the world tour in Latin America a month before the disc's release. In early 2017, prior to the North American stadium tour, the band made festival appearances and headlined concerts at venues in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
The 2017 dates on the "WorldWired" tour, which included stadium shows across the U.S., grossed $110.3 million in North America and $152.8 million worldwide.