Beyoncé and Jay-Z reaffirmed their dominance as modern R&B’s most celebrated couple with OTR II. The natural heir to 2014’s On The Run, this tour was a runaway success even before its opening show at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on June 6th, with Billboard predicting a $200 million gross for the 48-date itinerary. Set designer Ric Lipson of Stufish has described the intention behind the show as being “a blend of art installation, meets an opera, meets a pop concert, meets a dance piece, meets architecture.” His brief, he says, was to base the design around the story of two lovers who “become separated and spend part of the show ringing round each other and then… are reunited.” From Stageco’s perspective, one of the first ingredients of Mr. Lipson’s design to be confirmed was the integration of four, 11.5m long cantilevers that suspend the PA above the stage, in much the same way as we do on Swift’s production. Not all aspects of the design were finalised so quickly, however. Discussions concerning the middle section of the set – the performance stage – continued for months and the way forward was finally agreed just three weeks before production loaded into the U Arena in Paris for rehearsals. Working with visionary artists, it can be a hard game to play. What appears to be a brilliant idea on paper may not prove acceptable when a design is finally realised, so changes have to be implemented very quickly and with the minimum of fuss in order to meet an unforgiving deadline. This was the case at the start of Beyoncé’s Formation tour, two years ago, and so Stageco had the benefit of that experience when facing a similar situation this time. While the overall stage measures 60m wide and 27m tall at its highest point, the central performance stage (standing 16m wide and 12m high) is divided into four floors of five boxes, à la ‘Celebrity Squares’ and functions as both the main scenic element and the crucial structure that supports a scissor lift, three quick lifts and the tracking video system that is cantilevered into place. Also contained here are two stair houses, built by Stageco with scaffolding, that are used as holding areas for the artists. Scheduled to run until it reaches Seattle on October 4th, the tour has been carrying three Stageco steel systems, each requiring 17 trucks and a crew of 14. On average, the build takes three days at each venue and the Stageco crew com¬plete the load out by 7pm on the day following a show. The trucks also contain materials for building the front of house riser and delay towers.