Freelance Sound Engineer
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  • Mama Mia Aarhus

    Posted on December 1st, 2011 No comments

    I got a call from one another good friend and ghost partner in crime Andy Hedges at Autograph, asking if I was free to assist him out in Denmark installing Mama Mia into Aarhus. The show in which cast and crew was moving from the Copenhagen show, but was essentially was a brand new install for us had 2.5 days to get it in and working! So an extra reinforcement was required… Me.

    After a couple of prep days at Autograph in which I essentially just looked round the brilliant work Hedges had accomplished done, learnt the gig and ate copious amounts of Cake, I headed to Aarhus (the second biggest city in Denmark). Due to me needing to go from Manchester I ended up going went via a complicated transfer route of flights, but eventually arrived in Aarhus, and after a taxi (where I thought the meter in the taxi was a timer!) I arrived at the hotel which was directly opposite the theatre (can’t complain with that!). After a bit of dinner (in which I ate enough bacon to stun an elephant), we headed in at 8pm to start work. The aim was to try and get as much stuff in as possible as to give us a good run the next day… Needless to stay our team, Hedges, Wibo, Ruben, Potty, myself and Stein, threw the gear in that night! And by the end of the call we had most of the looms in (including the multi), daddy rack in and powered, FOH more or less together and even had the centre cluster flying! Great work. Quick beer and bed.

    As a brief overview of the system we were using, it was a Digico SD8 out front, matrixed and controlled by 4 XTA 448’s. The main system was 2 MICA arrays (12 deep) left and right with a M’elody centre cluster, with some hp600 subs and some E3’s for Front Fills and Delays and some UPJ’s groundstacked for the front rows. On stage foldback was handeled UPJ’s and Juniors with MM4’s for down stage foldback. We had Sennhieser 1046’s for the radio’s, and Avioms in the pit.

    Day 2 went just as well and along with in house head of sound Gary and his team, we quickly got all the arrays rigged, cable in and even some of the pit cable, we really were flying. We came in early on day 3 due to at XTA issue in which it appeared to be not outputting any audio. We swapped the unit out with a spare and then continued with the bitty tasks of RF aerials, on stage speakers and comms. We were joined later in the day by Mama Mia MIDI expert Jimmy Drew, who I hadn’t seen since Ghost, and by the end of day 3 the pit was nearly complete and system tuning was going well and we left the LX department to focus in good spirits and hit the town of Aarhus!

    The night started with a cracking game of bowling, UK vs Europe in which (despite my shocking inconsistency) we won! We then hit a far bars, then after those who were left including me, Ruben, Potty and Hedges ended up in a busy bar in the centre of the town. I was loving chatting to some “Aarhusians” and it was a cracking night. In fact I was shown an interesting video of me trying to buff my trainers on the hotel show buffer later that morning, and that always symbolises a good night!

    The next day (day 4) however wasn’t as good. I for some reason didn’t feel so great (I can’t imagine why) and as the operating crew and cast arrived there was suddenly lots to do, very quickly. Still we battled through it and got the Qlite’s installed, extra comms added and even a last minute request for stalls delays was also sorted. A day of fire fighting later, and feeling pretty pleased we then got hit again by the return of XTA issues.

    We had since tested the previous suspect XTA, and couldn’t find an issue. What we worked out was happening was the XTA was recalling random snapshots on the device, in the case of this files from a previous Mama Mia show (Spain I think) that were being used as a base for this show. It was clear that something from the incoming data the devices were recalling snapshots, thus causing the errors such as no audio (due to changed routing), but what errors in the data or even device firmware we weren’t sure. The answer was to delete all other snapshots, factory reset and re flash the devices. There has since been no reported issues, although that could be down to the reduced data activity now the show is up and running! If anyone has had any similar issues answers on a postcard please!

    Anyway all of this is irrelevant because the most interesting thing about this trip was the building itself! The Musikhuest Aarhus is an amazing place to work, and it can’t really be compared to any one venue in the UK. It’s a massive arts complex, with about 10 venues (including our theatre, 2 rock and roll venues, corporate spaces and a classical concert room!), offices for various companies, an endless corridor of rehearsal rooms (with adjustable acoustic conditions!!), recording studio, a complete metal and wood work room, a massive technical stock and the flexibility to path seemingly anything to anywhere! It was fascinating! Basically if I was ever going to give up this freelancing lark and go and work in a venue… this would be the place.

    Anyway my time with Mama Mia was up, I headed home during which BA managed to break my Peli case! (I don’t know how they did it either). I had a brilliant time in Aarhus, and I hope to return soon to there or Denmark in general in one way or another. Thanks go to Andy for getting me on board and good luck to Potty, Stein and Gary for the run, hopefully I’ll see you all very soon.