tube UK Sounds The Manchester Spirit

Photo: Chris Payne, courtesy of Walk The Plank

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 during 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 – as well as the final one, a very special show-stopping collaboration by local hero and dance music producer Graham Massey of 808 State 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 commented: “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 PA was installed featuring six d&b audiotechnik V8 loudspeakers, four V-SUBs, a Yamaha QL5 digital console and 35 assorted microphones to deal with the diverse line-up of music.

Albert Square’s footprint could accommodate between 2,000 to 3,000 people, 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 1,500 people and the ‘Circushouse’ stage – 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 their destination in Exchange Square.

The system in St Anne’s Square comprised four d&b Y7P loudspeakers, four Y-SUBs and another Yamaha QL5 with new d&b M6 wedge monitors, playing to around 500 people. Meanwhile, deployed to the Great Northern Square stage were four Y7s, four Q-SUBs, a QL5 and d&b MAX12 wedge monitors.

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 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 PA on the float was made up of four d&b Y7Ps and four Q-SUBs, all powered by a D80 amplifier and mixed via a Yamaha LS9 console. The Second Liners’ radio microphones were all from the Sennheiser 5000 series.

The high point for audiophiles at the event 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 d&b PA which seamlessly transferred the sound ensuring all those eagerly awaiting the float could benefit from the full PA.

The Exchange Square stage featured eight d&b V8’s and four V-SUBs powered by four D12 amplifiers and the reception kit for the RF link was also Sennheiser.

The event was highly rewarding for the tube crew of 11 who installed nine individual PA systems, all rigged and sound-checked across the city and then de-rigged after the entertainment ceased. It was an intense 12 hours of sonic activity that has been honed and improved each of the five years since the event started in 2012.

“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 Coote.