A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor


One of Britain’s favorite alternative rock bands, the Verve has just triumphed at London’s newest and biggest concert venue, the O2 Arena, using a substantial EV line array sound system to deliver their singular style, which encompasses everything from soaring psychedelic rock anthems to acoustic-driven songs.

One of the most influential alt-rock acts of the last decade, The Verve had its biggest hits in 1996/7, most notably ‘Bittersweet Symphony‘. Somewhat prone to breaking up and reforming, this tour marks the band‘s latest reunion, playing clubs across the UK before stepping up to six arena shows.

Front-of-house engineer Ian Laughton ordered up an Electro-Voice X-Line array system from Britannia Row for the arena shows, declaring it his favorite PA: “I‘ve got total faith in these boxes; they just get better and better.”

“I first heard this PA in Wembley Arena and I was just astounded,” he recalls. “To be honest, I was never really happy with line array systems until I got the X-Line. It just seems to fill the whole area. EV subs are the best I‘ve heard in a line array, they‘re just phenomenal.”

Laughton first worked with The Verve in 1993. “With this band, their concert program starts off with the racket of the post-punk era and moves to the orchestrations of the ‘Bittersweet Symphony‘, culminating in very acoustic-led pop. The X-Line system can track that seamlessly, and I can do it all by faders. However, to create the effect I want for the band, I‘m using some old-fashioned rough-sounding reverb and old compressors. With a brand-new Midas XL8 digital desk and Electro-Voice X-Line speakers, it would sound a bit too fresh and clean so I‘ve had to color it, dirty it up a bit, especially for the songs off the first album.”

This is Laughton‘s first gig at the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, and he praises Brit Row‘s system engineer Richard Trow for supporting him with a system design that provides excellent coverage. Says Trow, “the O2 is a great-sounding venue, but it is also very high, so we have to think carefully about coverage. We needed an extra hang of speakers to handle the top seats at the very side of the stage, but otherwise the arena was covered by main left/right hangs of X-Line (13 cabinets each side) and supplemented by side hangs (10 cabinets), with 12 Xsubs either side of the stage.”

The EV P3000RL amplifiers powering the system were controlled and supervised using EV NetMax and IRIS-Net management software: “The IRIS-Net program is constantly being improved,” explains Trow. “It has been enhanced by good new construction software which makes it much faster and simpler to use. But it is the addition of the NetMax digital matrix controller to the system which has improved things a heck of a lot! Day-to-day, we‘ve got all our control and delays in NetMax which makes life a lot easier. Using it as a matrix EQ delay unit, we don‘t have to change the settings in the amplifiers from show to show, although we could if we wanted to. Operationally it‘s comparable to the leading competitor‘s product, but sounds much better.”

Trow has had experience with EV X-Line in the O2 venue, having used it recently with the Foo Fighters. “It‘s quite a dead room, so you can‘t skimp on the PA, and you really need the subs, but EV definitely works in there.”




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January 2008
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