Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds gets revived on MLA

Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds gets revived on MLA

Jeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds gets revived on MLA

The giant and ever-growing production of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds, which has been circling arenas for 16 years, has been revitalized with a new cast, additional music, and an immersive experience for audiences.

A regular feature over the past 12 years has been sound designer and consultant, Simon Honywill, at the FOH mixing station, and a Martin Audio PA delivering the extraordinary complexity of sound, while RG Jones Sound Engineering has again provided the inventory of sound equipment. Honywill is now in its sixth tour of service and, as per production, it has kept the sound suitably refreshed as technology has advanced. Its adoption of Martin Audio’s award-winning MLA in 2012, with its multi-cell control, took arena sound to another level, ensuring that audiences in the front stalls were subjected to the exact same sonic experience: the full blast music, spoken word and special effects, like their more distant neighbors at the rear of the upper circle.

This time around, for a production tour titled “Life Begins Again,” Honywill says that despite her vast experience in production and the places she visits, the challenges remain the same. “It’s never been easier,” he admits. “The schedule is quite grueling, but over time we are now very confident in using Martin Audio’s DISPLAY2 shells from previous shows to expedite the process of system optimization and array deployment.”

Ignited by the success of the 2018 tour, when he proclaimed he would never do this tour with any PA other than MLA, he stayed true to his word.

“A decade and more with this system, I’m still fully convinced that it’s a step ahead of the competition,” he says. “Yes, there are systems that might be easier to rig and have the edge in other areas, but we’re here to deliver the iconic sound of this huge production to every seat in the house, nothing more, nothing less. There is no other system I would even consider to achieve this.

“MLA’s unique, innate technology delivers jaw-dropping smoothness, incredible detail, a feeling of real power without ever sounding too loud, zero listener fatigue, and the incredible ability to create difficult avoid areas. For the musical version of Jeff Wayne’s war of the worlds, the only thing everyone is looking forward to is the opening nine bars of the epic orchestration of the strings, loud and proud MLA allows me unprecedented quantities of acoustic gain from the 36 strings and the surge of excitement that runs through the audience as they play those opening chords is palpable.

So he adopted the system design that had worked so well last time, with up to 20 MLAs per side as left/right main suspension, a maximum of 16 MLA Compact on each wing as side suspension, and again, left/right eight MLA Mini fills to aid vocal clarity near the stage. Explaining this latest deployment, he says: “The main suspensions are well upstream of the bottom edge, so to give us more control over the vocal mics of the headphones we use on vocalists, the MLA Minis are deployed as stereo fills. steering wheels with a high-pass filter set up at around 250Hz. Additional near-stage coverage is achieved with four pairs of MLA Mini front fills, spaced across the stage and hidden behind acoustically transparent panels in the stage cabinet.

The main difference with the platform this time around is the sub-bass arrangement. “System engineers Steve Carr and Rylan Machin and I looked at alternatives to previous tours, where a compromised flank array was placed under the stage approximately 4m from the edge of the stage. There are plenty of stage machines for elevators and hologram screens under the stage, as well as walking routes for performers and technicians, so space is limited.

“The original idea was to fly the MLX subs, but weight was an issue at many sites. We needed to find a way to get maximum even coverage while taking up as little space as possible and maintaining the network integrity Rylan came up with the idea of ​​using a combination of edge and fire arrangements, which worked better than we could have hoped.

There was only one new arena on the circuit and that was the relatively new Bonus Arena in Hull, where the system was implemented without a pre-existing venue profile in D2. “It’s basically a very large theater in a classic shoebox style, but the team excelled in getting the system ready in time for precise tuning and timing, despite the tight space to fly the system,” he says.

By team, he means Carr, Machin and Nathan Kennedy. “The level of professionalism of the crew was absolutely world class, they were exemplary. Nathan’s daily work of finding and installing suitable points for the surround effects speakers (up to eight WPS per side) was extremely difficult in some arenas, but we ended up getting the best possible result every time.

Other members of the audio team include the legendary Becky Pell on monitors. “She certainly has the hardest job of the concert,” says Simon Honywill. “I couldn’t imagine anyone better to deal with such a demanding gig. Becky’s innate composure and dedication to her work ensured that the eight members of Black Smoke, the five guest artists, the 36-piece orchestra and Mr. Wayne himself all heard everything they needed to hear, exactly when they needed to hear it.

He also credits RF specialist Ricky Spiers. “COVID has been busy attacking us all, and Rick has had to deal with radio mics and headphones on a daily basis for performers, some of whom are understandably paranoid of COVID.”

RG Jones has been providing War of the Worlds since 2009, and this outing also saw the return of production manager Steve Nolan, production manager Andy Proudfoot, and many other regular faces who have been involved since the start.

As for the man at the mixer, Simon Honywill says, humbly and simply: “My job is to create great sound”, adding poignantly: “Yes, I could use another sound system from another rental company, but I stake my reputation on it never sounds as good as this show with RG’s Martin Audio MLA This system lets you do things that no other system does, and the team at RG know exactly how to get the most out of it.

photos: Andrew Benge

Jeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds gets revived on MLAJeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds gets revived on MLA

April 20, 2022

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