From Live Aid to Iron Maiden: Set company celebrates lockdown ‘lifeline’

Chrissie and Alan Chesters (inset) designed the first Live Aid Set. Pictures: PA/Hangman

Chrissie and Alan Chesters (inset) designed the first Live Aid Set. Pictures: PA/Hangman - Credit: PA/Hangman

On Saturday July, 13, 1985 broadcaster Richard Skinner announced: “It’s 12noon in London, 7am in Philadelphia, and around the world it’s time for Live Aid.”

A general view of Wembley stadium with the guards band playing the National Anthem on the arrival of

A general view of Wembley stadium with the guards band playing the National Anthem on the arrival of the Prince and Princess of Wales who opened the Live Aid concert in 1985. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA

But as a rapt audience back in Norfolk wondered at performances from Queen, U2 and Led Zeppelin little did they know if it wasn’t for a firm from their neck of the woods Live Aid would have looked a lot different.

Norfolk staging company Hangman has work with a pleathora of bands and artists since it was founded in 1983.

And now, with husband and wife team Chrissie and Alan Chesters having feared the worst when Covid-19 struck, the firm has hopefully secured its future.

A “lifeline” grant from the government will allow it to keep working with the likes of Coldplay and Iron Maiden for years to come.

A set designed by Hangman. Giggs at Wembley in 2019. Picture: Justin De Souza

A set designed by Hangman. Giggs at Wembley in 2019. Picture: Justin De Souza - Credit: Justin De Souza

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The businesses was founded over three decades ago by the husband-and-wife team.

Mrs Chester’s daughter Martha Turville-Petre has since joined the Blickling-based company as a project manager, and said: “We’ve worked on some really fantastic projects over the years but I think my Mum would say she was proudest of the work she did for the first Live Aid.

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“At any one time we are a team of about ten. We work with some freelancers depending on the project we’re working on – but everyone has been furloughed since lockdown.”

Bombay Bicycle Club in 2019 - set designed by Hangman. Picture: Justin De Souza

Bombay Bicycle Club in 2019 - set designed by Hangman. Picture: Justin De Souza - Credit: Justin De Souza

The business has been awarded £132,220 – the majority of which will be spent on bringing back the staff and funnelling their efforts into innovating the way live music looks.

“We have seen a lot of people in our industry looking at producing pods which would allow for socially distanced concerts. I think it’s getting saturated though so we want to really look at how we can innovate sets and live shows.

“Technology is going to be a massive part of live music in the future so we’ll be working on how we can incorporate that more with the likes of light boxes and interactive staging,” she said.

Recently the team has worked on projects including Foals’ Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost tour and Bombay Bicycle Club’s Everything Else Has Gone Wrong tour.

Chrissie and Alan Chesters at the first Live Aid concert. Picture: Hangman

Chrissie and Alan Chesters at the first Live Aid concert. Picture: Hangman - Credit: Hangman

Ms Turville-Petre added: “The work that we, and other creative companies like us, do is essential to keeping the UK’s rich and envied live music and arts industry alive. We are so grateful to the #wemakevents movement for their massive efforts in exposing how vulnerable we in the events sector are since the arrival of Covid 19, and to Arts Council England for delivering this much needed support.”

Some of the sets built by the Hangman team. Picture: Hangman

Some of the sets built by the Hangman team. Picture: Hangman - Credit: Hangman

Behind the scenes at Hangman which designs sets for global tours from its warehouse in Blickling. Pi

Behind the scenes at Hangman which designs sets for global tours from its warehouse in Blickling. Picture: Hangman - Credit: Hangman

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