Leading UK rental and production company Entec Sound & Light supplied audio and lighting for various elements of ‘Britpop’ superstars Blur’s recent shows, culminating in the band’s epic gig in London’s Hyde Park coinciding with the Olympic Closing Ceremony.
Entec has worked for Blur since 1990 – a remarkable achievement in the often fickle work of technical production. Back then, they supplied a small lighting package to LD Dave Byars who wanted to create a distinct identity for the emerging young band doing a support tour!
Byars has also now worked for Blur for the last 22 years!
These most recent shows were production managed by Ian Chip Calder and tour managed by Craig Duffy.
Entec Lighting project manager Noreen O’Riordan states, “Blur have been one of our most creative and interesting clients over the years, and it’s been an amazing journey – and one we are proud to have been involved in - to see them grow into the international phenomenon they are today”.
Entec supplied lighting and sound systems for UK warm up gigs at Margate, Plymouth and Wolverhampton, a lighting floor specials package for two Scandinavian festivals, and on the audio side, a FOH control and full monitor rig set up for the two Scandinavian dates and Hyde Park.
The lighting rig for the three UK dates comprised Vari*Lite 3000 Spots, V*L 2000 Washes, Martin Atomic Strobes, 2-lite Moles, i-Pix BB7 LED floods used for low level side washes, together with 16 of the brand new i-Pix i-Line battens, all controlled via an Avolites Sapphire Touch.
Entec also supplied Andy Emmerson and Tom Crosbie as crew.
The 2-lite Moles, Atomic strobes, BB7s and the Sapphire Touch went to Scandinavia, and the Sapphire Touch – supplied directly from Avo – was hooked into the full rig at Hyde Park, enabling Byars to weave his inevitable magic..
Says Byars, “It was really lovely working with Entec again and getting back into their very unique vibe. Everything was spot on as usual, and they couldn’t have been more helpful despite the spec changing almost daily – and hourly - at some points!”
There have been numerous memorable Blur moments for Entec Lighting over the years recalls O’Riordan, especially in the early days when serious cutting edge creativity …. and a lot less budget … characterised the designs which were never short of inventive!
All aspects of their productions matured during the 2000s as Blur became established as leading innovators both musically and visually, all the time keeping their sights firmly focussed on the benefits of high production values.
Characteristically, The Hyde Park show featured a striking stage set modelled on the famous Westway road – a London landmark hugely significant in Blur’s history. This was designed by Kirsty Durman, built by Frenchy at Steel Monkey and independently lit by Vince Foster.
Entec Sound has also serviced Blur for the same period of time – plus Damon Albarn’s many side projects including Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and the ‘Monkey : Journey To The West’ opera.
The band’s FOH engineer Matt Butcher has worked with Entec on this and numerous other occasions, as has monitor engineer Dave Guerin.
Entec Sound provided a full d&b J-Series PA system for the three UK shows.
For the FOH and monitor set ups they built two identical rigs, as the overlap between the Danish and Swedish shows meant that they could not get the system back into the UK in time for Hyde Park.
The FOH package comprised a Midas PRO9 console and some carefully selected toys including a TC D2 delay, chosen for its unique noises, and a pair of Empirical Labs EL8 distressors with BSS DPR901 compressors.
Butcher also utilised his now legendary bespoke Ladyboy effects unit!
Based on and electro-hamonics bass synthesiser pedal with funked up modifications and classic analogue moog style filter blocks and circuits, Butcher has had the device rack-mounted for touring. It comes complete with a crazy "strap on" extras box with LFO trigger-able random frequency generators and envelope followers, which he describes as “Super nuts stuff!! All the bass sounds from Bootsy Collins' Dr Funkenstein and general sub bass audio devastation ……to soft bowed chimes. Its very cool”.
Butcher made use of the PRO9‘s automation for sending mutes and aux mixes to effects and fader settings with MIDI commands to recall programmes on the D2.
A DN9650 format convertor was supplied to allow multi-tracking of the gig via MADI to Entec’s Nuendo recorder and an RME Madiface to Butcher’s laptop for virtual soundchecks and archival purposes.
The monitor system consisted of a DiGiCo SD7 console, 16 x d&b M2 wedges, d&b Q1 and QSUB sidefills and eight Shure P6 hardwired IEMs which were also used for backing vocals, keys and drummer Dave Rowntree.
Joining Butcher and Guerin were an Entec crew of three – Liam Halpin who looked after Butcher at FOH, Adam Draper who oversaw the stage and James Kerridge, who was PA tech for the UK warm up shows.
At Hyde Park, they hooked in to the L-Acoustics K1 system which was installed for the full run of shows taking place there throughout the Olympics period.
Photo Credit: Liam Halpin