One of the most highly anticipated displays of the 2012 season, Grupo Luso had managed to keep some surprises up their sleeves that were not revealed in the interview I had conducted with Vitor Machado. Surprise was one of the key Luso elements at their debut display in 2002, with the now famous ring, then a pyrodome in 2005 and the “Mission Impossible” fuse effect in 2008.
On arrival at La Ronde, it was clear there were special structures floating in the lake that had been hinted at on their facebook page as “pendulums”. In fact, there were each of these floating on their sides in the lake, obviously replete with pyrotechnic effects. More on these later.
The music for the display began during the countdown, but this was done quite deliberately. When the countdown hit zero, the well-known “voice of Radio Canada”, Winston McQuade, introduced different pyrotechnic effects as a conductor might introduce the different instruments of an orchestra. Then the music-proper began with the familiar refrain of Carl Orff’s opening movement from Carmina Burana, a piece that has been (over)used on pyromusicals many times before. But this was a joke as McQuade interrupted the display to say just that – that this piece was overused and we needed something else! Surprising and effective!
The display proceeded with great interplay between the one-shots and candles on ramp 3 and the shells above, with many typically Portuguese effects such as a type of go-getter. Then a surprise, as fireballs erupted on ramp 4. More surprises followed later with volley after volley of rockets, something we haven’t seen in Montreal for a while and another traditional Portuguese specialty.
Intermixing soulful music with more-upbeat pieces was effective, particularly when another Portuguese effect, the relampago, came to life and gave the feeling of being in a disco. Relampagos are a form of multi-effect photoflash shells.
After the first Fado piece, fire was seen on the lake and the pendulums started to rise to a vertical position! Initially firing strobe pots, they were certainly surprising, but that wasn’t it. They had, as I found out afterwards, 50 cues on each of them. One dramatic effect was that of firing small shells. This gave the distinct impression that the shells had been fired directly at the audience and evoked the first of several WOWs from me during the display. Later, drivers on the top of the pendulums made them swing around as drivers fired at alternating sides. Later, gerbs were fired and at other points horizontal and vertical wheels. Definitely a very unique effect!
But the surprises weren’t over, though the last of them had been publicized. Violinist Eric Speed and Fadista Yolanda Soares appeared on a small stage for the final two segments of the display, to great cheers from the audience. Yolanda’s piece formed the finale which was done in traditional Luso style, with massive barrages of shells, all of the same colour, but cycling through the spectrum and ending up with white and volleys of salutes, bringing the display to a close to cheers from the audience.
I enjoyed this display and found it more balanced and integrated thematically compared to Luso’s 2008 entry and it caused me to utter the most WOWs so far this year! The music editing was cleaner with good transitions between pieces. The special effects, especially the pendulums, rockets and fireballs, were great. But there were a few mistakes which marred the performance, with one position on ramp 3 unfortunately appearing to do everything in reverse compared to its peers. I also found that some of the fireworks effects used were repetitive, with many segments with horse-tail or go-getter or crossette-type effects. I also found the range of colours used appeared to be biased towards the warm end of the spectrum, though there was one segment with a rainbow-type effect. However, on a creative level, Luso must be credited, once again, with presenting something unique for the Montreal audience with their unique pendulums.