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Britannia Row Productions at the MOBOs

Britannia Row Productions at the MOBOs
Britannia Row Productions at the MOBOs

UK - Twenty years since it first appeared, these days the annual Music of Black Origin (Mobo) Awards stride confidently across the nation, regularly stepping into new venues with aplomb. Following London, Glasgow and Liverpool in in the three previous years, the 2015 event took place at the Leeds First Direct arena on 4th November. The first visit to Leeds, the spectacular show lacked nothing in the way of presentation, as production manager for the event, Rob Smalldon, explained.

“I’ve done the MOBOs for the last ten years. As a live event direct to broadcast, the creation of an exciting and vibrant atmosphere within the venue is essential and how it sounds is a big part of creating that atmosphere. Since my first one, I’ve worked with Britannia Row (Britrow); they did a great job then and they’ve never let me down since. The thing is they understand the show, they understand the multi-performance format so well, and they know that for the MOBOs, perhaps more than any comparable show, it needs to be nice and loud and Britrow surpass both the audience and performers’ expectations.

That said, certain broadcast sensitivities have to be considered. “We put in L’Acoustics K1 mains left and right,” explains Britrow’s crew chief John Gibbon. “With Kara beneath the mains and a large hang of K2 to the sides, it’s quite a beefy system. But we place just twelve SB28 subs. As a TV show and with tables on the floor you can’t put in an arrayed Sub system, just a small stack out of the camera sightlines beneath each main hang. We don’t want to rattle the cameras or the dinner plates, so to keep the low end energy in the room we rely a lot on the 15” speakers in the K1.”

Mark Kennedy who regularly mixes for Faithless, was the front of house engineer. An experienced pair of ears for this style of music, he has some very firm ideas about how the live audio should be managed. “I did the live artists, the audience sound for the MCs and VT is managed by system tech’ Craig Ross. Most of the live artist perform to playback or partial playback but FKA Twigs was totally live, so there’s great variety. I mix from a Digidesign D-Show, more than enough good functionally for the demands of this show. Although all the artists want a loud show you are limited by what is tolerable before you encounter camera shake. That said, we don’t roll off anything above 30Hz; that just wouldn’t be acceptable with the focus on grime these days. So in rehearsals I play it as loud as I can until they complain, then roll it back one or two dB.” Kennedy has experienced the MOBOs previously, “I did the MOBOs a couple of years ago as a client, mixing Tiny Tempah live at the Hydro in Glasgow. The Britrow guys were great of course and it went really well. I have to say this year was even better.”

A view endorsed by Smalldon. “Our first time at Leeds Arena and Britrow did a really great job of support for us. There are all kinds of questions coming at you all the time on a show like this – we got sight of some of the band requirements quite late on – yet the Britrow guys deal with that. They see what it is, make a judgement and react. On the show day, when you consider the outside broadcast element that had to be accommodated and the controlled chaos of multiple trucks coming and going, to manage the equipment for each distinct live performance as they did was outstanding. It all went very smoothly. The equipment and technology improves every year and I have to say this was certainly the best year ever.”

photos: Pat Bannon Photography

30th November 2015

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