The seven-day event returned after a three-year hiatus at the 5,272-capacity London venue from 21-27 March, with performances from The Who, Ed Sheeran, Madness, Paul Weller, Liam Gallagher, Don Broco, Yung Blud and comedians such as Romesh Ranganathan and Tom Allen.
Entec Live, which has worked on the event since its inception, returned to provide fresh, sound reinforcement, based around d&b audiotechnik’s new KSL system. The company worked alongside show producer Des Murphy and production manager Julie Chennells (of Ginger Owl) — the latter having worked on every event since it began in 2000.
Freelance project manager Matt Grounds, who took on PM duties back in 2016, having earlier mixed monitors on the show, said, “We constantly review our spec to ensure it best fulfils the production’s needs, and this was the first year we’ve done the event with KSL.”
Entec Live said d&b’s new line array, aimed at superior directivity control, “fully justified” its investment this year and was a natural continuation of the J-series. The main PA hangs comprised 16 KSL a side with 14 d&b V series side arrays and Y-series enclosures providing front and balcony fills.
The big step forward this year, Grounds said, was with the 14 SL subs which replaced the previous J-subs: “SL is a cardioid box by nature and a punchier sub than the J. We opted for a centre column to maximise vertical coverage, with an additional horizontal array on the ground to give energy in the stalls. With the two working together we could achieve even coverage across the majority of the arena, with significant rear cancellation.”
Grounds, who also took on system tech duties, said, “The room itself is far from straightforward — high and reverberant — and you realise the many little things there are to learn each time you play here. While KSL was a like-for-like replacement, it was important to make tweaks to get the best from it.”
Grounds said the sound architecture was a typical, generic festival-type set-up: “System-wise, what tended to change on a daily basis was sub levels. We could tailor the pattern to fit everyone’s needs, for more energy at the front, or more even coverage, or to reduce levels on stage.
“We had a [DiGiCo] SD10 out front and Madness and Paul Weller’s engineers plugged their show files into that as well as the support acts. That was linked to an SD11 so we could patch in both guest and our console, and have two people working at the same time.”
JoeCo supplied two Blackbox MADI multitrack recorders, as they do for the event each year. “We would take a MADI stream from ours or incoming control racks, where available, or an analogue split into a Ferrofish digital interface to convert to MADI. With this setup we were able to record anything,” said Grounds.
Entec Live’s team included FOH engineer Colin Woodward and monitor engineer James Kerridge — the latter onboard a DiGiCo SD12, mixing to a stage system comprising d&b M2, d&b V-Sub and various side fills. It also featured patch tech Rob Humphries and Stage / RF tech Barny Peplow, in charge of the Shure AD4Q radio mics and Shure PSM1000 IEM’s.
Chennells said production had worked alongside all artists to ensure they could bring in their own elements of production such as pyro, kabuki or video screens: “I work closely with Des Murphy who is the producer of the show and organises all artist booking alongside patron Roger Daltrey CBE and promoter SJM Concerts.
“The only thing that was a concern for me this year was the possibility of having to cancel a show because of Covid. We implemented a sterile backstage for the entire week, everybody was extremely cooperative and thankfully this didn’t happen.
“From a production perspective we have got it to where it needs to be although we are always exploring new products, as technology changes.”