Audio specialist tube UK, working for outdoor arts experts Walk The Plank, provided nine different sound systems in six locations and on two parade floats around Manchester city centre for Manchester Day 2016.
The high profile event was enjoyed by huge crowds who were thrilled by the elaborate floats, incredible costumes and vibrant array of music on the parade section of the Day, as over 80 community groups snaked their way down Deansgate via Albert Square and on to the finish at Exchange Square.
tube supplied the first float in the parade – the Orrery – and also the final one which was a very special show-stopping collaboration by local hero, dance music producer and icon Graham Massey (808 State, etc.) and brass collective Mr Wilson's Second Liners.
The overall event theme of EUREKA! celebrated the city's achievements in science and discovery with Walk The Plank commissioned by Manchester City Council to produce the event. Now in its seventh year, Manchester Day encourages inclusivity and participation and includes contributions reflecting the city's rich and diverse cultural base.
tube UK's Melvyn Coote comments, "We are hugely proud to be involved in the event and this year, were even more excited to work with Graham Massey in addition to supplying kit to all the stages.”
The main stage was built in Albert Square, so a good sized PA was installed featuring 6 X d&b V8s, four V-SUBs, a Yamaha QL5 and 35 assorted mics to deal with the diverse line up of music.
Albert Square’s footprint could accommodate between 2,000 to 3,000 people maximum, a number that varied throughout the day, so the complete PA system was designed to address the entire space.
The main stage PA covered around 1500 people and the ‘Circus House’ stage ‘Come Pain or Shine’ - dedicated to aerial performances – reached approximately 500 at a time. A third stage PA also covering around 500 people, accommodated a compère commentating on the vibrant floats as the parade passed through en route to destination in Exchange Square.
The system in St Anne's Square comprised four d&b Y7Ps, four Y-SUBS and another Yamaha QL5 with new d&b M6 wedge monitors, playing to around 500 people, and deployed to the Great Northern Square stage were four Y7s, four Q-SUBs, a QL5 and d&b Max12 wedges.
Technically the most challenging aspect of the event for tube’s team was Graham Massey’s float, which was built as a spectacular giant glitter-ball … beneath which Massey - resplendent in matching mirror suit - mixed his magic live. He created live loops taking samples from the Second Liners, a nine piece brass and percussion ensemble mode, each individually mic’d by the tube team.
A large and awesome 360 degree sounding PA on the float – tube’s main objective was to give it plenty of oomph – was made up of four d&b Y7Ps and four Q-SUBS all powered by a D80 amp and mixed via a Yamaha LS9 console. The Second Liners’ radio mics were all Sennheiser 5000 series.
The high point for audiophiles in the house came as the Massey float entered Exchange Square and the float audio link was beamed via RF transmitter to a receiver onstage sending signal to the higher powered PA - also d&b - which kicked in seamlessly transferring the sound ensuring all those eagerly awaiting the float could benefit from the full PA.
Massey and the Second Liners then produced a totally unique 15 minute piece complete with dance groups from the main parade.
"An iconic Manchester dance vibe imbibed the whole of Exchange Square - it was totally amazing," enthused Melvyn, who explained that a key to making this happen smoothly was that the stage PA had to be set up in a very specific part of the Square. To make this happen tube undertook a site survey, risk assessment, etc. and presented a full proposal to the council for approval.
The Exchange Square stage featured eight d&b V8s and four V-SUBS, powered by four D12 amps and the reception kit for the RF link was also Sennheiser.
The event was galvanising but very rewarding for the tube crew of 11 who installed 9 x individual PA systems, all rigged and sound-checked across the city … then de- rigged after the entertainment ceased. It was an intense 12 hours of sonic activity which they have honed and improved each of the five years since the event started in 2012.
Despite their Manchester base and strong connections to the local music community, it was the first time tube had worked with Graham Massey, a real honour as audio technology was the essence of the whole concept working successfully.
"It was a fantastic experience to work with Graham and Mr Wilson’s Second Liners and to see their contribution have such a positive impact on the event," concluded smiling Melvyn.
Photos by Chris Payne courtesy of Walk The Plank