Screens target pre-teen screams
Big screens were first used at concerts in Ireland for vast, open-air events such as Slane and Feile. However, in recent years screens have come to be used at most large indoor concerts, giving audiences a chance to see the bands up close.
Promoters now commonly use the screens for entertainment and advertising before the band comes on stage. For young pop audiences, the emphasis is on heartthrobs, says Bill Lord, managing director of Blink TV, a British company which supplies the screens for many Irish shows. "The way to get a reaction from a younger audience is to put up images of their heroes on the screen - you're always going to get a scream for Leonardo DiCaprio."
For an older audience, the images will be different, Lord says. "We might focus on extreme sport, or fashion, or street-wear, or animation - more abstract imagery as opposed to focusing on famous people." The images will all be accompanied by a loud soundtrack, made up of familiar chart music. It all helps to build the audience up for the main event. "It's not designed to make you think too much," Lord says. "It's just basic entertainment."
The advertisements that are mixed in will be carefully targeted at the particular audience. The package can last for a stretch of more than half-an-hour, and may be used on-and-off between acts. Five, in the Point next week, will use entertainment and ads from Blink TV.
Peter Aitken of Aitken promoters says the use of advertisements, particularly when aimed at a young audience, has come in for criticism. "But I just look at the audience, and the audience loves it.
"I think it's fun - it's good entertainment."
It also helps to fill the "awful gap" before a band comes on stage, Aitken says. "I think that, by and large, it's a good thing for pop shows."
While Bill Lord says the entertainment packages can be put together for any big concert, Peter Aitken is not convinced. "What are you going to advertise at a rock gig? Men's after-shave? If I was going to a gig I wouldn't necessarily like to sit there with my wife watching loads of ads."