Manchester-based band, the Stone Roses, took to the stage in Dubai for the first time. S&S sits down with Thomas Ovesen, Robert Hodson and Malcolm Giles to discuss the technicalities of the show and why a good sound system is imperative when a lead singer needs a helping hand.
For the Manchester-based group, the Stone Roses, their Dubai Media City Amphitheatre concert, which took place on the 21st of February, was their first performance here in the sands of the UAE.
And while S&S has covered some intricate and technology heavy events, the Stone Roses chose more of a traditional rock concert approach. Malcolm Giles, production management and sound engineer for MG Production Services comments on the bands choice of concert type, “As productions go, it wasn’t that technical.
As compared to the likes of your J-Los, your Biebers, it was a good old fashion rock show with a few modern twists to it. I think for what they had, I think they used it quite well. It made the show and made it look very good.”
When asked about the setup process of a rock event such as this, it seemed we had asked quite a loaded question with the initial response we received from Robert Hodson, site management and business development for DONE Events.
But much to our surprise, it was a fairly straight forward process, as Hodson reveals. “We began with the design stage, by taking into account the volume of people, location, expected demographic, time of arrival,” he begins.
“All of those processes are taken into account, which obviously effects the choice of venue. Then specific areas for each category, sizes were calculated and exit points were controlled--all of these in tandem with the security and specialists who are making sure we are not overcrowding areas and all of the necessary exits. While all of this was happening, we were also taking into consideration all the HSE and putting those into effect.”
Hodson continues, “Malcolm is in charge of the actual quality of the show--ensuring the guests can see what they need to see and making sure everything is covered with the audio and video. From there, we began to mobilise on site.
“We were also working in conjunction with the landlord at this point, at which they gave us the approvals in addition to all the government officials giving their approval for the build, the structures, the access control, everything.
All of the contractors began to come in and the stage was one of the first things to go up, followed by fencing. The final stages really are the catering and the sponsorship around the venue.”
Hodson adds, “We try to make it so that the venue is built 24 hours before the actual event. Sometimes we run over for obvious reasons, but we like to have that 24 hour breathing period to analyse and check everything, run through the entrances, it’s pretty straight forward really.
Everybody we work with is tried and tested and everybody knows their roles. It’s quite a nice, smooth operation. Sometimes there are time constraints, but if you don’t need to rush it, we don’t rush it. Generally, everything goes really smooth.”
During the performance, we had noticed that the queues for the refreshments were surprisingly long, given that this was a much smaller crowd to DONE’s previous concert, Jennifer Lopez.
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But we were curious to find out what the guys’ opinions were on the matter and the overall logistics of the show. Thomas Ovesen, COO of DONE Events explains, “It was only 10,000 capacity--I say only because a few months prior to this we set up the venue for 14,000 for Jennifer Lopez. So we only used one entrance, as opposed to using two for the 14,000 setup. All of that went really well.”
He continues, “We had around a one and a half hour period of extreme queues at our refreshment areas, which were the only cues we had that evening. That was a reflection on the level of thirstiness of the audience.
Interestingly enough, JW Marriot, our catering company, had setup refreshment areas to mirror what they had for the Jennifer Lopez show, assuming that the demographic of this audience would reflect the high number of beverages.
The beverage consumption was beyond that and we actually grossed at the bar 25% more than at Jennifer Lopez and only 10-15% less than the 20,000 capacity of the Eagles concert. So whilst we had long queues in the peak hours of the show, 7:45pm-9:15pm, they still sold almost as much as they did for the Eagles concert.”
Ovesen admits, “I think, in fairness to JW Marriot, the fact that they served 25% more than during a concert that had 4,000 more people, it was just a huge demand at a certain time where they couldn’t cope.
So, if we are to have an event with the same kind of audience, I don’t think we would be serving, or allow our caterer to serve, draft unless it was done in a separate serving area where people decide that they want to go and enjoy that kind of option.
“As a side note, Media City really is beautiful because we can set it up in many ways for 10,000 people and configure it for any kind of demand. But obviously, when it comes to our catering partner, we rely on them to decide what is needed.”
He adds, “But all in all, logistically speaking, this was still a smooth run: we had great wrist banding/ticketing and we had a beautiful venue to work with, which meant we could let people out at different exits, after the show.”
A touch of honest reflection is always appreciated and to further this, we wondered if the crew felt there were any other obstacles they were met with, and how they might have overcome them, both during the setup and the performance.
“There’s nothing we can do to overcome an obstacle, such as a bar queue, on the night, other than telling our catering company to put extra resources in, going forward,” Ovesen states bluntly.
“There were arguments in regards to the demand of our catering partners and how they view the balance between the quality and speed of service. The one thing we can say, across the board is, perhaps for a mature aged crowd, it’s pointless to try and pull a high quality draft, and it’s better to tell people, ‘you get this quality (a can), but you get served that much quicker,’” he continues.
“Just like we don’t have specialised logistical companies in the market to take care of artists’ airport arrivals, hotel rooms, etc., we don’t have catering companies which oversee rock ‘n roll concerts.”
Moving away for a moment from the logistics of the event and refocusing on the technology aspect of the concert, we wondered what the crew felt was the highlight of the evening? Ovesen admits, “I think it was amazing what Malcolm and the band’s production team was able to do to the sound considering the ability of the lead singer.
And obviously that plays into the fact that the highlight for people attending--more than anything else-- was the fact that the band was back together and that they were performing in Dubai.”
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Giles reveals, “One of the comments I received back from people was it wasn’t as loud as they had expected it to be. But from a production element, if you start going too loud, it becomes more prevalent that he doesn’t have the singing voice he used to have.”
He continues, “So I think it’s just finding a balance in terms of what works for the crowd and what doesn’t. You can go really loud in the show and the crowd will walk away saying that sounded terrible. So I really think that was the only challenge for them (the sound team), was finding that balance, but something that also worked out in the end.”
Ovesen adds, “It’s also more ‘moody’ type of music so it doesn’t require that kind of level of volume. As far back as the rear of the venue, the VIP area, people were certainly enjoying themselves, and even other Manchester artists that was were present were having a good time.”
And to wrap things up, we asked what the region could expect to see from DONE Events in the coming months. Ovesen says, “Last year we sold just short of 90,000 tickets, so just looking at the coming year in terms of scale of volume and frequency, in 2013 we will do just that if not a bit more.”
He continues, “We had a fantastic year in 2012. With regards to the quality concerts we put on, the Stone Roses, was an artist that, even within our own organisation, we had doubts regarding how well they could perform. Yet they sold to capacity, which was fantastic for us, so that was a great start to 2013. Bruno Mars tickets are almost sold out and we haven’t even started that campaign yet. Justin Bieber will be a sell out as well.”
He concludes, “We’re also doing the biggest comedy shows we’ve ever done in June 2013, and after the summer we should have a couple of blockbuster events as well. So we keep bringing what we believe will sell a ticket in Dubai and can secure on a feasible artist’s fee, considering the venues we have available.”
- 24 L’Acoustics K1 Loudspeaker
- 8 L’Acoustics K1 Sub
- 16 L’Acoustics SB28 Sub Speaker
- 1 L’Acoustics K1 Bumps x 2
- 24 L’Acoustics LA8 Amplifier
- 1 Delta 72 channel Analogue Split System
- 6 12 Pair Stage Box
- 1 Midas Pro 9 Console
- 1 Midas DL251 48/16 I/O
- 1 Midas DL371Audio System Engine
- 1 Digico SD7 Control Surface
- 1 Digico SD Rack 56 - Optics
- 1 Digico Fibre Cable - 150m - HMA
- 1 TC Electronic 2290
- 1 Lexicon PCM 96 Effects Unit
- 1 Yamaha SPX 990
- 2 Avalon VT737 Valve Pre amp/compressor
- 2 Christie Roadster 18K Projectors for Side Screens
- 4 Christie HD1.4 -1.8.1 /SXGA 1.5- 2:1 Lens
- 1 Barco Folsom Image Pro
- 1 6mm 15m x 7m LED Wall on Stage
- 2 GrandMA Series 2 Lite Console
- 2 GrandMA Networking Processing Unit
- 2 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 1500
- 8 Clay Paky Sharpy
- 18 Martin Mac 2000 Moving Head Wash
- 24 Martin Mac 700 Moving Head Spot
- 22 Martin Mac Aura Moving Head LED Wash
- 38 Martin Atomic Strobe 3000
- 6 Follow Spot Strong Gladiator 3000W
- 4 Thomas 4 Lite Molefay
- 8 Diffusion DF50 Haze Smoke Machine
- 4 Jem Z33 Smoke Machine
- 2 5L Smoke Fluid (Z33)
- 2 5L Smoke Fluid (DF50)