Britannia Row Productions provided the entire audio infrastructure for the recent star-studded VE Day 70: A Party to Remember concert, staged at the Horse Guards Parade in London.
In partnership with The Royal British Legion, the event was a cooperative presentation between Live Nation and the BBC led by event organiser Graham Pullen. The show was also production managed by Chromatic Productions, with Steve Nolan bringing together all the requisite technologies and their crews.
“In the planning stage it quickly emerged that the focus of the show would be around a single band,” explained Nolan. “A swing band in the style of Glen Miller. As guest artists of the stature of Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins were added to the bill, it became obvious a major responsibility would rest with audio. Add in the musical diversity represented by Blue, Pixie Lott, Jamelia and Status Quo, plus the fact that the show was to be broadcast on BBC1 and Radio 2 and I knew I would need a supplier with a successful track record on this level of responsibility.”
As for the audio arrangement, project leader Tom Brown explained the set-up: “It was a typical outdoor stage though wider than most at 41 metres, with main L/R system of L-Acoustics K1 and out-fills of K2," he revealed. "In that sense the live sound was quite easy, the main demand being to keep sound energy off the surrounding buildings. A single big band with various guest artists appearing in front also simplified changeovers between the different segments.
"[Sound designer and engineer] Colin Pink has much experience of these types of shows and provided the live mix from a Digico SD5 to the audience in Horse Guards Parade; the BBC taking digital feed from our stage boxes. Chris Coxhead managed all the comperes, announcements, historical readings, and VT clips on a Midas Pro2, while Dee Miller was our crew chief, for once relinquishing monitor world to Rod Clarkson who used an SD7. We provided all IEM and wedge systems for the various performers.”
Pink, despite his lengthy experience of such star studded events, found this show quite different: “Musically it was not too loud at all, but to keep the dynamic, the mix was big and full," he said. "Brit Row’s system tech Sergey Zhytnikov did a wonderful job controlling the bounce off the surroundings, so it was lovely from a mix point of view. It’s so rare you get a 13-piece brass section with full orchestra and rhythm section, and you never get to put a big band through a K1 system so this was a unique treat.
"The K1 is so good at throwing the HF that it’s almost like the audience having near-field monitors. This allowed me to keep the levels low, but still sounding full – nothing gave me more pleasure than seeing Status Quo perform at 85dBA for example – but I was still able to retain the dynamic punch of the brass. Great fun.”