Roland Greil ignites great emotions in the audience – sometimes with flame throwers, sometimes with a brightly colored sea of lights. He is on the road for up to seven months a year.
A murmur goes through the crowd at the Olympiastadion as the audience recognizes the first bars of Phil Collin's “In The Air Tonight”. Diffuse blue color storm flickers on the stage. Individual white spotlights sparkle in the rhythm of the melody, the colors muted by the artificial fog of the machines. As the first buzzing sound of the piece sets in, the stage glows for a moment in glaring red, before tipping back into a cool, blue sea of ice. Elegant drama. A goosebump moment. Produced by lighting designer Roland Greil. Who, unlike Collins on stage for the 50 000 pairs of eyes in the stadium remains hidden.
A few hours earlier, on a blazing afternoon in late June. The 38-year-old strolls through the empty rows in the stadium. The last quiet hours before Phil Collins approaches the city with his emotional “Against All Odds”. There is still a lazy silence over the grounds. No one who does not have to stay on the surface in the heat. But Greil, dressed in black, stops. “You get used to a lot in this job, working in the heat, traveling a lot,” he says. That's hard, yes. But he did not want to complain. He glances at the stage, then at the so-called “Front of House”, from where sound, lighting and camera technology are controlled during the concert. Greil is smiling now. Suddenly there is this memory of the afternoon 21 years ago.
It started with Tina Turner. In 1998, for the first time, Roland Greil was almost alone in front of a big stage, back then on Königsplatz, just a few hours before Turner's guest appearance at “Eros Ramazotti & Friends”. The last folding chairs were set up. Greil, at that time a student, had helped with the construction. He was just 17 years old, had a head full of dreams. “I looked to the technicians and thought: That's it – make such a huge concert once.” Greil knew that in a few hours, the lights on the stage would be on, Tina Turner beguile thousands in the audience with her voice. The spotlights dance to the beat of their music through the night. And Greil wanted to be the one who made her dance.
Greil tells, then pulls back the security barrier to the engineering area and sits down on his chair in front of the monitors, the dozens of knobs and switches. He arrived where he wanted to be at the age of 17. Through learning-by-doing. “After graduating from high school, I turned my hobby into a job and started working and learning in the industry,” he says. No classical education, no study. “Yes, no question, you are a bit proud.” A daring set for Greil. Even after almost 20 years as a Lighting Designer, he is above all modest, discreet, and professional.
The shows for the Rolling Stones, Adele, James Last, Spandau Ballet and the doctors Nothing. Not even for Rammstein, The mega-show, the light-and-fire spectacle, which only gives the audience a glimpse of the adrenaline when you look at the sky, when suddenly high-pitched flames shoot into the night sky. Greil co-designed them. Visual decadence of the finest. And now, in a matter of hours, he will see to it that Phil Collins and his band stand in the best light in the Olympic Stadium. Will create color worlds and send light explosions through the stadium. It will be different, as with Rammstein, of course. “Every artist has his own ideas and preferences.” The stage appearance of the artists, their history, their genre, the time from which the songs originate, the mood and lyrics of each individual title also determine how the show looks in the end.
At Collins, there is no perverted opulence, no flame inferno. “Rammstein is almost like theater, with a focus on staging,” says Greil. Collins does not focus on the show but on the music. Greil will emphasize that with his light show. She will decide if the audience has a good evening. “We are not saving lives,” says Greil. “But we can bring fun to the people.”
(tagToTranslate) Culture in Munich (t) Phil Collins (t) Rammstein (t) Rolling Stones (t) Munich (t) Süddeutsche Zeitung (t) SZ