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All Aboard for the Co-operative
UK – It’s not often you bump into Jimi Hendrix in a former Victorian main railway terminus, but then the Co-op is no ordinary organisation. How it chooses to celebrate the reinforcement of Co-operative values by its employees through the Pioneer Awards is a reflection of its unique character. This year’s annual event, staged at Manchester Central, featured a reception area themed around an ice palace and a breath-taking 50m wide projection screen in the main function area to ensure everyone felt like they had a front row seat. The whole evening was topped off with a performance by the Kaiser Chiefs followed by a late night DJ-hosted after show party elsewhere in the building just for good measure.
Manchester Central has its own particular demands when it comes to staging a prestige corporate show of this dimension, one reason why event specialist Black Arts engaged the services of Mark James from Unicorn Productions to oversee every aspect of the technical presentation. “This venue is well known for its difficult acoustic and I chose the skills of Britannia Row Productions (Britrow) to overcome the challenge. I’ve used Britrow a few times in the last few years since setting up my own production company, and I’ve learned that they have the answers.”
“At this particular event we were fortunate in that we needed to improve the aesthetic, fully carpeting the floor and draping, not only around the huge presentation screen, but also across the huge glazed opposite end of the building to ensure a proper black out. Those soft goods certainly went some way to dampening the reverberation but certainly not all considering the railway station architecture.”
“During our initial discussions about specifications and budget, a question arose as to whether we really needed delay speakers hanging further down the room as Britrow’s project manager Tom Brown had specified. Yes, they could have tried to get away with just adding a couple more boxes to the main array to get the sound energy down the room that bit further but Tom insisted the delays were necessary. As he explained, whatever the excellent characteristics of an L-Acoustics K2 system, losing the delays would have undone the proper control of energy into reverberant spaces. All credit to them, they were right.”
James engaged the services of freelance sound man Damian Coldwell to manage duties front of house, “He’s my number one sound engineer; Damian does 90% of my shows and is very good, an excellent engineer and superb at handling the idiosyncrasies of corporate events.”
The whole event saw a mix of speeches and presentations, with a considerable element of loud music, both from the VT – which is where Jimi Hendrix made his appearance – and the performance of the Kaiser Chiefs.
Coldwell pronounced himself more than satisfied with the rig, “It can feel like a compromise when you try and do two things with the same PA system,” Coldwell pointed out. “There have been events where we have put in a distributed system for the speech part of the presentation and a big L/R mains PA for the concert part. Here, we were able to use the same staging and hence the same audio system for both and you know what? It didn’t feel like a compromise at all. I ran my own EQ from the Yamaha desk before it got to the Lakes and it sounded as good as it would for any system. And those delays? They really helped, it all sounded quite lovely.”
“It actually went really, really well,” agreed James. “My client, Black Arts, have worked this room many times and recognised how good it sounded in what is a difficult acoustic. Frankly, they were blown away with the results and with the quality of the result, not just the efficiency of delivery. The Britrow crew were great, Damian was really happy, and the Co-op experienced a truly first class show.”
photos: Tom Brown
15th November 2016
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