Story: Kate Lyon
Photo: Megan Moss
It might have been a quiet opening to 2019 for many, but January and early February saw Britannia Row Productions Ltd (Brit Row) start the year in robust, if slightly inverted fashion. “Within two weeks of the Christmas break we had three arena tours out and one of the UK’s most exciting acts, Jorja Smith playing festivals,” said Sales Director Lez Dwight. “The clue is in the word ‘festivals’, no-one is playing festivals in the frosty Northern hemisphere right now, but along with Jorja at the festivals, Mumford & Sons and Phil Collins have all visited arenas in Australia and New Zealand.”
While the balmy reaches of the Antipodes are seeing most of the action Brit Row is not neglecting the UK market, “We are supplying system and support for Cirque du Soleil’s annual visit to the Royal Albert Hall,” he continued, “And we are already gearing up for the Brit Awards which has quite a fundamental new look this year.”
But it’s the southern hemisphere where most of the action is and, contrary to what you might think, it’s not all control and monitors. “Far from it,” continued Dwight. “Both of those arena tours have their own idiosyncrasies and not a little complexity. For any production manager maintaining continuity in the workflow of the show is paramount so we have shipped out more crew than you might expect to maintain that consistency.”
Josh Lloyd, who determines the principal system design for many Brit Row tours, offered this insight to Mumford & Sons as an example. “The system design for the Australia/New Zealand leg was more orthodox than what they will present in North America soon afterwards: mains and sides all L-Acoustic K1 and K2 with a Sub array of SB28s and, where necessary, Kara delays. Admittedly there are not the challenges of the in-the-round show, but it still makes a lot of sense to have four core members of our UK crew travel the universal team. There is an awful lot of signal source equipment on stage, the band present as both electric and acoustic. That impacts, in turn, on monitors and unsurprisingly it then all becomes RF heavy so we have a specialist on the tour for each of those three positions. System tech’ remains critical.
Although I settled the overall design requirements in collusion with Mats Frankl in Op’s at JPJ in Australia, we still sent Terrence Hulkes on the universal team. Every territory has its own way of doing things; they are distinctive more than fundamental - that leads to two conclusions. There’s no point in imposing different ways of working in a territory where their own MO works perfectly well. The natural counter to that is to have someone like Terrence there because he can more easily adapt to their way of working and, with his prior knowledge of how Chris Pollard (FoH) likes the system to sound and respond to his mix, can tweak the basic design to each room played and tune accordingly.”
“In the end where the work takes place is not important,” concluded Dwight, “It’s having the right infrastructure to operate professionally wherever that takes you. People are a core resource for us.”