Perfect weather conditions were again present for this debut display by the British team, winner of several competitions in Canada and internationally already. During the interview, Graham Wilkinson told me that this would be their most complex display ever. Being invited to compete in Montreal is an honour, but it is, of course, a baptism of fire. The site is deceptively simple, but, in reality, is large and complex.
The display began with a short well-sequenced segment of one-shots and mines that augured well for the rest of the display. It is not unusual to start out gently after the countdown and it quickly became apparent that the lack of shells during this segment was deliberate. The choreography was good and soon we were into the second segment. This also was composed of low-level effects initially, well done, it must be said, but it did feel a bit surprising that it was around three minutes into the display before any shells were fired. At this point, I remember Graham’s words “the best place to view the display is from La Ronde”. This, of course, is always true, but it was particularly true for this display.
The audience became very enthusiastic as the large and impressive volleys of shells did fire, leading to some dramatic climaxes – almost to the level of faux-finales. What I found a bit lacking, however, was a lack of interplay between the different levels in the display – the low-level one-shots, candles and mines, the mid-level of smaller shells and the high level of large calibre material. It appeared that for most of the display we had either one thing or the other, rarely both, except in the finale when all levels were exploited simultaneously.
The diverse soundtrack was definitely enjoyed by the audience, though I found some of the edits between tracks to be a bit sudden, though the nature of the tracks used may have been partly responsible for this.
I did find the range of shells used rather limited as there were no horse-tail effects nor falling leaves (nor some other effects for that matter) – some pieces of music would have benefited from these (such as Andrea Bocelli’s Time to Say Goodbye. I also found that the preponderance of crossettes to give a feeling of repetition.
The lake was not exploited much, save for the water ballet shells that nicely complemented the “ballroom dancer” pieces on ramp three that worked very well.
The finale was well done, building to an exciting crescendo to the great enthusiasm of the audience, giving the team a standing ovation once the lights on the big wheel came back on at the end.
An enjoyable display and one with a few quirks that I’d not seen before, mainly the segments where there were no shells fired. Synchronization was good for the fronts of one shots / mines, but I found the comet chase sequences to be rather un-related to the rhythm of the music. For a debut display, a very good effort, but definitely more interplay between the different levels is required for a Jupiter-winning performance and a wider range of pyrotechnic material.