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2000 l'International Benson & Hedges Montréal Pyromusical Competition Report

Australia The Pleasure Dome Revisited Sunday July 16th, 2000

Syd Howard Fireworks International, designed by Rob McDermott, PyroDigital and FireOne firing

"As Daring as ever, Syd Howard's Australians are back with a soundscape focusing on the rock group Frankie Goes to Hollywood. These rising stars of the industry had the honour of orchestrating the extraordinary millenial fireworks displays both in Sydney and in London. Their visit to Montréal in 2000 could be truly explosive!"

Once again, heavy rains subsided by late afternoon as the clouds rolled back for a perfect summer's evening for this fifth visit of the renowned Australian company. Using a fast-paced soundtrack from the English 80's band Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Syd Howard promised there wouldn't be a moment of dark sky. More than 50% of the material used was manufactured by Syd Howard and a combination of Pyrodigital (ramps 1 and 3) and FireOne (ramp 2) computerised firing used. This was the first time in Montréal that both firing systems were used simultaneously. The continous flow of the music made it more difficult for me to provide the usual delineation into sections, especially as I didn't know the names of all the tracks. Sufficeth to say that the music pretty much followed the order of FGTH's Welcome to the Pleasure Dome album. This was a very energetic and complex display with, according to Rob McDermott, more than 2500 lines in the firing program and was very difficult for me to keep pace writing notes!

Part 1. The display opened in dramatic fashion with huge mine fronts in blue and gold. Then shells of fireflies with a front of orange mines below followed by dahlia shells of white comets and then more shells of fireflies. Then a front of huge white comets, rising to a fantastic altitude followed by more firefly shells and then pale kamuros with more fireflies beneath. Next, shells of red turning to silver comets followed by shells of white go-getters followed by blue and tourbillon candles with glitter comet shells above and also gold fireflies. Then shells of gold glitter comets, some with crackling pistils followed by huge silver shells and then more kamuros. Next, crackling comet candles with shells of crossette silver balls above and then the same in candles below followed by blue mine blasts and more silver crossette ball shells and then shells of crossing-stars. Then dramatic huge white comets chasing across the lake from left to right and then from right to left followed by pale kamuros above and then another dramatic sweep of comet shots chasing left to right and then right to left followed by more crossette silver ball shells. These were followed by thick gold comet shells, mnore silver crossette balls and silver to red go-getters and also green go-getters. Next, shells of green turning to red and then shells of red turning to green with shells of crossing-stars. A front of orange mines returned to the opening theme of firefly shells at medium level with white comet dahlias above and then a huge front of mines and crackle as the music moved seamlessly into

Part 2 including the track Born to Run. Shells of glitter and crackle were followed by charcoal comet shells and then clusters of kamuros with mines and crossette comet shots below and shells of electric comets and then volleys of crackling shells followed by rising tail shells bursting to gold fireflies and then some fantastic blue shells which turned to crackle. Then more blue shells and shells of blue stars with white starfish comets followed by a return to the blue to crackle shells, with blue mines below and then more of the blue and starfish white comets and shells of blue turning to gold comets. More mine fronts below and then blue to crackle shells above and multi-break shell-of-shells of multi-colour clusters which were really nice. These were repeated and augmented with blue and gold glitter mines and then shells of blue ball crossettes and then more of the blue and starfish comet shells. Then shells of fireflies with crackling pistils and blue rings with crackling pistils and then huge blue mines with volleys of blue to gold shells above. Then huge white comet shots angled right, then left, then right, left, right, rapidly in time with the music, more mine fronts and a large silver and crackle shell as the music moved seamlessly into

Part 3. Silver comet and bombette candles with silver dahlia shells above were followed by shells of small clusters of bees which swarmed together and then wizzed off. These were repeated and followed by more dahlia shells and ring shells with pistils and shaped burst shells with a ring surrounding a five-pointed star. Then bombette candles of firefiles with more shaped-burst ring-and-star shells followed by gold dahlias and the multi-break shell-of-shells of colour clusters and then shells of whistling tourbillons. Next large shells with glitter and crackling pistils, mine fronts in blue and then brilliant green with a large weeping willow charcoal comet shell above as the music moved seamlessly into

Part 4 including the track Relax. Crackling charcoal comet candles were followed by blue candles and silver bombettes with shells of the crackling charcoal comets and shells of crossing-stars above and then kamuros with crossing-stars. Then shells of crackling comets with firefly pistils followed by shells of red turning to silver and then lots of shells of red ball crossettes. Next, big pistil shells in red and silver, shells with crackling pistils, shells with crossing-stars and shells with red stars turning to crackling comets. These were followed by multi-break shell-of-shells of colour clusters and orange go-getters with candles of "crazy silver fish" as my notes put it. This theme was repeated and followed by a huge mine front as the music moved seamlessly to

Part 5 including the track War. This segment began with volley after volley of blue cluster shells with big blue mines beneath and then silver candles and crossettecomet shots. A line of white strobes opened up as more blue cluster shells burst with more crossette comet shots and then a a front of gold glitter mines. The blue cluster shell theme repeated with more crossettes and mines and was followed by shells of blue and gold comets and then huge bright kamuros and followed by huge white comets sweeping from left to right in perfect note sync as the music moved seamlessly to

Part 6 including the track The Power of Love. A line of red flares opened up with shells of gold fireflies above in this more serene section. A line of seven gold fountains lit up and were replaced by a line of seven silver fountains as the flares turned to yellow as brocade shells fired above with candles of large tourbillons below. Then more pale gold brocade shells turning to silver with shaped-burst shells of hearts. Silver fountains flew threw the air and became nautic as more brocade and heart shells fired above. Then a line of seven cross-shaped fountains, each arm firing three jets of sparks, opened up with pale gold brocade shells above. More of these were fired with pale gold rising tails, bursting to pale gold, turning to silver and trailing to the ground. Then more red hearts with gold glitter mines and candles below and then remarkable heart-shaped bursts in pale gold kamuro comets, the segment concluding with more pale kamuros, trailing to the ground as the music moved seamlessly (and an increase in pace) to

Part 7. Fronts of large green mines, huge white comet shots and crossette comets began this segment as huge pistil shells burst above and the mine, comets, crossette them repeated again and again. Then shells of silver turning to fireflies and silver turning to blue and more shells with pistils and rings with pistils. These were followed by shells of gold turning to blue and blue and silver starfish comet shells and then beautiful shells of bright white gold in the form of sunflowers! Several volleys of these were fired and then mines of blue, green and silver and then candles of remarkable squawking tourbillons as the music moved seamlessly into

Part 8. Fronts of white mines with shells of orange ball crossettes above were followed by shaped-burst shells producing spirals and snails (a spiral with a ring beneath). Then crossette comet candles and bombettes and shells of electric comets and shaped burst shells of butterflies of gold electric comets, followed by more spiral shells. Then blue shells with gold kamuro pistils followed by crackling candles and silver bombettes. Next shells of blue-headed comet rings turning to green and then shells of electric crossette comets. This was followed by a repeating sequence of bright white mines with multi-break shell-of-shells of colour clusters above. The segment come to an end with shells of butterflies surrounded by rings as the music moved seamlessly to

Part 9, including the track Two Tribes. This began with what I described as "mad tourbillon" candles with shells of silver turning to bright gold. Then shells of large comets turning to blue and silver turning to red followed by a huge kamuro. Then candles of small, fast tourbillons with huge shells in green above with crackling pistils and comets with pistils. More large kamuros and then a huge charcoal comet weeping willow shell followed by green candles and screaming (different sound to the earlier squawking) tourbillons. Then bright white huge comet shots crossing from left and right in sequence and then bright silver mines. More note-synchronized comets with colour cluster shells above followed by pale gold kamuros with gold firefly pistils. I stopped taking notes at this point as the sky was filled with large blue with silver starfish shells. Massive barrages of bright gold kamuros with firefles filled the sky and then mines fronts below. At the very end of the display, there was a very dramatic mine chase sequence across the width of the display, giving the effect of a massive rainbow, bringing the display to a fantastic end.

This was a fantastic display and my notes really don't do it justice. There was so much action taking place that it was very difficult to keep track, especially as the music was fast paced for most of the display. Also, because of the seamless move from one track to another, there wasn't even a moment of dark sky. Because of the frenetic pace throughout, the finale perhaps seemed slightly short, but the dramatic rainbow mine chase sequence was brilliant. The synchronization was flawless throughout the display, the huge comet shots really emphasizing this. The judges are going to have a very difficult time this year. This display must be in the top three, I think the final determinant will be what the jury thought of the music. Personally, being an 80's person, I loved it, but I know that others won't have liked it so much. After each of the last three displays, I've said to friends, "that was number 1." And so it was this time, but I can say the same about both the American and the Italian display. Three very different displays, all deserving of the Gold Jupiter. We really are spoiled up here in Montréal!


Thanks to the public relations people of La Ronde for the official press release material, shown in white.