Tube Hits the Sonic Spot for Manchester Day

Photo: Walk the Plank

Manchester audio specialists tube UK delivered 10 fantastic sounding audio systems to five high-profile carnival floats plus five music / compere stages around the city centre for 2017 Manchester Day celebrations.

The event, commissioned by Manchester City Council and produced by Walk the Plank, celebrated the diversity, strong communities and unstoppable spirit of the city and its people, taking on additional significance less than a month after a terror attack in Manchester Arena killed 22 people.

The floats included a show-stopper featuring local hero, dance music producer and icon Graham Massey and brass collective Mr Wilson’s Second Liners.

A tube A-Team crew of nine led by Melvyn Coote smashed this project in one day, with six vans of sound kit buzzing around town preceded by some serious prep and pre-planning beforehand to ensure that everything ran like clockwork.

On the day, they hit it 7am starting with building the float systems. The stages loaded in at 8am and all were running by midday. The parade ran between 1 and 3pm and the stages were all active between 1 and 6pm followed by an immediate de-rig. It was a long but extremely satisfying day.

Four of the five floats used battery powered sound systems – for convenience and eco-friendliness – a practice that has been fine-tuned by tube, based around car batteries running with inverters. The challenges included managing the heat, especially as UK temperatures soared to 30 degrees as the country basked in the hottest weather for over 40 years.

The inverter gives approximately 1KW / 4 amps of power so the sound systems have to be extremely carefully balanced between sufficient loudness and maximising the current to ensure elements like subs don’t zap all the power.

Three of the floats utilised four Tannoy V8 speakers and four compact d&b E12 subs each and the fourth, slightly bigger, featured four d&b Q7s and four E12 subs.

Graham Massey’s float was powered by a small on-board 4.5 KVA generator custom fitted to the gold buggy base of the vehicle. The PA was similar to last year’s with four d&b Y7Ps and four Q-SUBs all run off D80 amps, specially tweaked for some extra oomph. The control console was a Yamaha LS 9-16, and Sennheiser SK5212 radio mics were supplied for the walkabout brass players.

Saving the best for last, the float featuring Graham Massey mixing live with phenomenal street band Mr Wilson’s Second Liners was a piece de resistance. When it reached the end of the route in Exchange Square, Massey pumped out a banging 20-minute dance set enjoyed by revellers really ramping up the party atmosphere and bringing the parade to an infectiously high note conclusion.

The five stage PAs were dotted around the city centre and along the parade route. In Albert Square a Compere PA was installed with four d&b Y10Ps and four E8s as point source speakers relaying ongoing parade commentaries. Another larger Compere PA in Exchange Square dealt with the end of the parade route, built from two ground stacks of Y8 line array speakers to cover the voluminous expanse of the square, powered by four D12 amps.

St Anne’s Square featured a small d&b music PA to cover around 400 people, comprising four Y7P loudspeakers and four Y-SUBS with six M6 wedges, driven by D80 amps, controlled via a Yamaha QL5 mixing desk. The fourth music stage was in a corner of Exchange Square, with the sonics delivered by another four Y7Ps, four Y-SUBs and four M4 wedges with a couple of D80 amps and a QL1 console.

The biggest music stage was in Cathedral Gardens which is where the 2000-plus hardcore party people gathered after the parade to enjoy an enthusiastic finale to a fantastically positive day spreading incredible vibes all around the city.

The audio system here was four ground stacked d&b V8s, two V12s, four V-SUBS and six M4 wedges all run through D80 amps, complete with a Yamaha QL5 console. A selection of generic mics covered all band requirements for the lineup featuring a lively programme of world music and cross cultural performances to close a hugely successful day for Manchester and all who live and embrace it.

“We were all exceptionally proud to be involved with the event and in doing our bit in bringing so many exceptional vibes to the city,” commented Coote.

A couple of weeks earlier, tube provided a PA for the vigil of peace in Albert Square in the immediate aftermath of the suicide bombing which happened at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Tube received the call the morning after the incident and scrambled everything to be ready with a d&b Q7 system covering as much of Albert Square as was possible allowing the massive crowds spilling over into the surrounding streets to clearly hear all the vocals and pay their respects to the victims.They also had to accommodate a huge contingent of global media outlets who arrived throughout the day to broadcast the vigil live.

Although poignant, the mood and defiance of the moment was brilliantly captured by poet Tony Walsh as he read his ode to the city ‘This is the Place’.