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2018 Begins (long post)

Having had some quieter time to rest over Winter, things are starting up again.

After the Summer festivals, the Autumn months had some interesting gigs:

At Chicagos Rock Cafe in Hanley, SC3 performed. SC3 is formed of three of the original members of S-Club 7 (Tina, Jo and Brad), and it was an amazing experience to have met the people whose music I grew up listening to. Of course, it was a very high-stress situation but the sound is reported to have been excellent - the owner, Ian, was very pleased.

I supplied a set of four 12" stage monitors and three Sennheiser wireless mics with the e935 capsules to ensure an excellent sound. During the setup, I fired up the measurement system to get the monitors sounding as close to reference as possible. After that, Craig (in-house tech) and I tweaked the main PA system a little to get it sounding its best. Particular attention was paid to the phase alignment between the subwoofers in the main PA and the dancefloor fill subs, and by the time we'd finished there was considerably more "punch" on the dancefloor.

In November, it was up to the Huddersfield Irish Centre to work with Andy Irvine, a well-established Irish musician - one of the greats of his genre. Apart from that, he was a lovely chap to work with who was happy to take the time to make sure all his different instruments were sounding spot-on, and that the monitor mix (supplied by a couple of the small monitors) was perfect. A couple of condenser mics (one ATM710 for vocals, and an original AKG C3000 as an instrument backup) were used, and the pair of main speakers with a sub were more than adequate for the venue, so the system had plenty of headroom to show all the dynamics and intricacies of Andy's playing.

Next up, an evening at the Eastern Pearl in Manchester, where I worked with Saleh Alyami to provide entertainment for a group of around 200 Saudi Arabian students. The evening featured talks from a few speakers, as well as song and dance with audience participation.

In December, first up was an event with the Afro-Carribean Society at the University of Sheffield. They had an evening of music, speeches and poetry at the Broomhall Centre, where we supplied a small but powerful PA system - a pair of subs and a pair of main speakers. When turned up, the doors were rattling and the organisers were very pleased.

The following weekend, there was a busy period of three gigs in two days. The first was Friday evening at the Edge in Endcliffe Village where the University Ceilidh Society (CeilidhSoc) needed a full setup for a visiting band. Having worked a lot with the society in the past, it was good to see some old friends there. The 2500w main speakers and a set of four small monitors were perfect for the gig, with every musician able to hear what they wanted. While the main speakers aren't huge with their 10" drivers, the quality of the speakers meant they still had plenty of grunt, and produced satisfying low-end with a mic'd drum kit.

On the Saturday, it was two gigs in a day. First was an RSPCA fundraiser at Chesterfield College, with a selection of artists including local band Saints Among Us. Again, the 2500w main speakers did an excellent job of covering the college cafeteria.

In the evening, the venue was St Bartholomew's Church near Chesterfield, with something rather different to the rock music at the college: this time, it was a much more subdued setting, with some world-class musicians:

- Marisa Johnson, a classical singer who's top of the classical charts in the Netherlands and on ReverbNation. She's worked with Enrique Iglesias among others.

- Adam Parrish, a pianist that has worked all over the world and organised the evening.

- Gordon Giltrap, a guitarist who needs little introduction, except to say that he was absolutely lovely to work with, and that he can do truly amazing things with a loop pedal.

While the previous gigs had been partly about making the music good and loud (whether to keep up with a drum kit, or be heard over 50+ ceilidh dancers), this gig was altogether quite different - the audience was silent, captivated by the performances on-stage, so the levels were much lower while still conveying every musical subtlety.

2018's gigs started with Holy Moly and the Crackers, at the village hall in Mottram. These guys were great to work with - bridging the gap between folk and rock with a violin, accordian, and traditional rock-band backline of bass, drums and guitar. Topped, of course, with some excellent vocal work. They're going on tour around Europe shortly.

The equipment provided was a pair of the main speakers, pair of subs, and a 3-way monitoring system. It's a great-sounding system with a lot of flexibility and power. Conrad, singer/guitarist/man-in-charge-of-the-band, was very impressed with how clearly the sound reached the back, and commented that it was probably the best-sounding system they've ever worked with.

Last weekend was working with Refresh Dance at Bolton St Catherine's Academy to put on a concert, comprising of all the dances the different groups had learned. There was some singing, too, so a couple of headset mics were brought in.

The PA system was a pair of the main speakers and a pair of subwoofers, all of which performed very well. Some of the dance tracks featured some very deep bass that came through perfectly. I also added a pair of the small monitor speakers, set up just behind the main speakers firing towards the stage. These provided sound for the dancers so they could hear the music clearly and ensure they were in-time. After a little tweaking to get the different parts working seemlessly together, the stage sound was excellent.

Since they'd also hired a video crew, taking photos during the performances was not permitted. So, here's a photo of the stage before things kicked off.

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