As is now customary, Hyde Park played host to the final weekend of its long season recently, with Proms in the Park on Saturday making way for BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park the following day.
This also brought the curtain down on a successful summer at the Park for Capital Sound, and their award-winning MLA PA from Martin Audio, following its ten-day stint at British Summer Time two months earlier.
Designed to coincide with Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, headliner, Barry Manilow was, supported by Bonnie Tyler, the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, Jack Savoretti, Gabrielle and soprano Aida Garifullina. Bigger ensembles included two choirs, while the cast of Les Miserablesa also shared the bill, and the 60-piece BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe, performed the traditional Last Night of the Proms anthems— including Pomp and Circumstance and Land of Hope and Glory.
The following day BBC Radio 2 presenters Zoe Ball, Ken Bruce, Rylan Clark Neal, Sara Cox, Gary Davies, Trevor Nelson and Jo Whiley introduced a galaxy of stars, including headliners Pet Shop Boys to the 50,000-capacity crowd.
Working the event for the sixth year, Capital Sound were again contracted by promoters, Festival Republic, with production in the hands of Dick Tee.
Capital has already evolved a perfectly optimised sound, with a main PA hang comprising 16 x MLAand an MLD Downfill per side, and 12 x MLA on each flank as sidefills. Sub frequencies were reproduced by 26 MLX subwoofers in a broadside cardioid array — 17 forward facing, and nine on top reversed. On alternate sub stacks was a W8LM Mini Line Array element, with a further stack of three W8LM on each side acting as ‘wing fills’. This provided the perfect solution.
“IT REALLY WAS THE BEST SOUND SYSTEM I’VE EVER WORKED WITH.”
Up on stage, artists could draw their reference sound from Martin Audio LE1500 wedges, supported by WS218X side fills, while away from the stage 12 x Martin Audio DD6’s provided reinforcement at the VIP interview stage outside, with a further 12 x Martin Audio F8’son duty inside.
Further back down the field, there were four delay rings giving a total of 12 delay masts. Two points were set 350 metres from the mix position, comprising eight Martin Audio MLA Compacts, to extend coverage to the main entrance gate but avoiding spill. Four positions were equipped with three MLX in cardioid pattern, while the furthest ring ensured the desired SPL levels could be reached while containing the offsite sound.
This much followed the carefully designed coverage footprint that had made the 2018 edition such a success.
However, this year a further eight DD6’s had been provided for onstage orchestral monitoring, while in the hospitality garden, close to the VIP interview stage, a mast of eight MLA Compact was rigged, stage left.
Many of the acts performing were already Capital Sound accounts, such as the Pet Shop Boys (with Holger Schwark piloting the soundboard), Westlife, with veteran FOH engineer Gary Bradshaw, and Status Quo with Andy May—all having spent vast sections of their careers mixing sound through various generations of Martin Audio PA’s.
On top of that Barry Manilow’s sound engineer Ken Newman, is another Martin Audio devotee, expressing his delight that Capital had been able to replicate his usual FOH rig across the Atlantic (while in the States his MLA requirements are met by Martin Audio partner OSA).
Tweeting that the sound for Manilow’s set had been “amazing” he followed up by saying, “It really was the best sound system I’ve ever worked with, and I was assisted by some of the best sound people I’ve ever worked with … they accepted nothing less than perfection with a great deal of attention paid to the very important but often overlooked details.”
The people to whom he referred were the large crew of Capital Sound techs, but principally crew chief Tim Paterson, system tech Dan Fathers, FOH engineers Jerry Eade and Mark O’Neill, monitor engineers, Jonny Buck and Damian Dyer, and patch engineer Richard Wonnacott.
Meanwhile, Quo’s long-serving sound engineer, Andy May, also had some positive words to say about his experience at the sound desk. “Achieving a dynamic mix to a very large audience is never an easy task, but the system supplied by Capital had been perfectly designed and set up really well,” he enthused. “Coverage across the entire area was very impressive, so I knew the whole audience would get the intelligibility and dynamic punch that was required.”
And so Capital finished the summer on a high, the sound experience for the wide range of performance—from classical to rock—continuing to remain fresh and vibrant for techs and audiences alike.
📸 Picture credit: BBC/Jamie Simonds, Sarah Jeynes