IMELDA BENEFITS FROM CAP'S REFINED MLA PACKAGE
Imelda May recently completed a short run of concert dates with a commanding performance at the Royal Albert Hall, where Bob Geldof and Ronnie Wood were among her special guests.
With this iconic London concert hall the only venue on the itinerary requiring an imported sound system, Capital Sound, the artiste's equipment vendor for the past seven years, fielded their flagship Martin Audio MLA PA in a new sleek format, tailor made for the RAH.
With a new front of house engineer in Waynne Smart, and a requirement to provide 270° coverage (only the choir stalks at the rear were left empty), they deployed a more compact and efficient system that had first been successfully trialled at the RAH back in late Spring, with shows by Roger Hodgson and the Beach Boys.
Stating that Smart had readily given his blessing to working with MLA, Capital Director, Paul Timmins, explained why the RAH had necessitated changes for their front-line PA's. 'We wanted to introduce an easier way of rigging that would no longer conflict with the Hall's big lift,' he explained. 'We were conscious that our system design hadn't changed in a while, and during that time, loudspeakers have become much lighter; we needed to look at designing a universal rigging package that would be more beneficial from a loading perspective.'
The PA now consisted of 12 flown MLA elements per side, supported by 11 MLA Compact on each flank for outfills (rather than the previous 12). The central hang comprised four MLX subs, with one reversed. Providing low frequency at ground level were three further MLX recessed under the stage, with one reversed.
The main and side hangs were flown from Capital-supplied single mother trusses, and picked up on two points via house motors. Capital then deployed two motors per hang, giving them full independent control. 'We can not only get much more accurate focusing using these two points, but it means that neither the main or side hangs are moving around,' he said.
Capital's Robin Conway also investigated means of reducing the amount of equipment by introducing a central sub hang. 'We didn't always fly subs before, but for a circular room, it is better in terms of time alignment,' stated Timmins, adding that the final icing on the cake is the ability to now fit the PA into a 25-tonne truck rather than an Artic.
Another piece of ingenuity was the deployment of a Martin Audio PSX 15in self-powered sub on each side, to 'warm up' the seats at the top of the stairs. 'We use the system's Powerplant to run two DD6 speakers on each side across the front of the stage,' Paul Timmins continued. 'There is a DD12 on each side half way up the stairs and another two DD12 flanking the DD6s … but the advantage is there is no need for any external amping - and everything is on the network.' Finally, Capital provided some LE1500s for stage monitoring purposes.
Where MLA really showed its worth was when May performed several songs on a B stage near the FOH desk accompanied by just a guitarist. The FOH engineer had been able to achieve plenty of level on the vocal without any sign of interference - despite being so far in front of the PA. 'He was hugely impressed,' states the Capital man.
Equally impressed were production manager, Paul Allen, and tour manager, Brett Spence. Finally, with Waynne Smart mixing on an Avid Profile and monitor man, Fran Bemrose, aboard a DiGiCo SD10, the sound throughout the evening was exemplary.