LIVE EARTH-BRITANNIA ROW AND ELECTRO-VOICE SCORE BIG AT WORLD’S LARGEST CONCERT
On July 7th, 2007, Live Earth brought together music and politics at venues on all 7 continents, including Wembley Stadium (London), Giants Stadium (New Jersey), Aussie Stadium (Sydney), Makuhari Messe (Tokyo), The Oriental Pearl (Shanghai), Copacabana Beach (Rio de Janeiro), The Cradle of Humankind (Johannesburg), and a research station in Antarctica. The concert was organized by former vice president Al Gore and Kevin Wall, the architect of Live Aid, as a call to action to climate change. Live Earth ran consecutively for 24 hours, beginning in Sydney and ending in the USA, during which over 2 billion viewers tuned in to watch.
While some critics have questioned if the concerts were not really more emblematic of a problem than a solution, featured artists did waive their typical performance fees. Artists and fans alike banded together to make a positive contribution to the environment. At many locations, portions of ticket prices were reserved for regional environmental efforts. Ultimately, benefits of the concert were allocated to Al Gore’s “Alliance for Climate Protection“ and similar associations.
Over 150 of the biggest names in the music world acts converged at venues throughout the world to offer their support. Acts in London included the Black Eyed Peas, Beastie Boys, Metallica, Madonna, Bloc Party, David Gray, Foo Fighters, Genesis, Pussycat Dolls, Spinal Tap, Snow Patrol, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Suffice to say that production standards-especially audio-were taken very seriously. Only the finest equipment and engineers in the world were considered. Enter Britannia Row and Electro-Voice.
Live sound and production veterans Britannia Row accepted the gig without compromise. In this capacity they coordinated and oversaw all aspects of audio production for the Wembley events. The massive EV X-Line rig used for the Concert for Diana, Live Earth and, just one night later, Metallica, consisted of main left and right hangs of 12x Xvls and 4x Xvlt per side and left and right hangs of 12x Xsubs per side, all flown. Side left and right hangs upstage comprised of 14x Xvls boxes per side and an additional 24x ground-stacked Xsubs. Britannia Row MD Bryan Grant commented: “We used a lot of distributed fire power to fill the space, and, thanks to the construction of the roof area, even with Metallica, we didn’t upset the neighbors while achieving levels of over 104db at the console-a challenging 77 meters from the downstage edge.“
In the stadium to mix front-of-house for the band Razorlight, engineer Ian Laughton gave his impressions of the Live Earth experience. “It was an amazing day, to walk into the new Wembley stadium after all these years, and to see my favorite PA system flown there. I won’t leave home without the X-Line system and have used it on the last two Razorlight arena tours. I wasn’t mixing on my normal desk, but I wasn’t worried because of the X-Line-the coverage and quality is fantastic.“
Fellow Live Earth FOH engineer “Snake“ Newton also sings the praises of the EV X-Line system: “I’ve always been a fan of X-Line and once again it has proved itself to be a world beating system at the London Live Earth Concert. Any stadium is an unfavorable acoustic environment but the Britannia Row system at Wembley pushed a powerful band mix all the way to the back of the venue while maintaining vocal clarity the whole time.“
Bryan Grant says he’s ecstatic about the success of the Wembley events. “X-Line is the ideal system for a multi-band bill, as these two events demonstrate. At the Concert for Diana, the musical mood was more middle-of-the-road, easy listening, a bit of orchestra, a bit of pop. Live Earth had a much more rocking bill, going from Genesis to the Pussycat Dolls to the Foo Fighters, so X-Line had to deal with that sort of weight. And then there’s Metallica, full-on heavy rock, and we had to fill a stadium where the top seat is 47 meters above the pitch. X-Line has the flexibility to deal with the changes in conditions and the changes in demands.“
Metallica’s big London date attracted 70,000 heavy metal fans to the stadium, but the band also contributed to the Live Earth festival the day before. “The PA output for Live Earth was attenuated for the TV show, and we had presenter platforms and B stages and all sorts of things in front of the PA. Consequently, Metallica’s front-of-house engineer ’Big’ Mick Hughes was concerned that the X-Line system would be loud enough for their own show.“
Not a problem: overnight, Brit Row’s systems technicians changed the front-of-house and monitor positions, and reattenuated the system to give a lot more energy between the downstage edge and the mix position. According to Grant, “it worked really well in the end-Mick was happy.“