The closing performance on Sunday night on Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival was described as a “throwback to where this kind of musical gathering probably began” a campfire singalong, one man and his guitar with a couple of hundred thousand joining in the singalong. Ed Sheeran was also supported by an immense sound system supplied by RG Jones Sound Engineering.
RG’s first stepped onto Pilton soil in 2007, providing control and monitors for the iconic Pyramid Stage. Giving the company an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of how to make the sound levels work for all parties involved. Hand in hand with their flagship system – Martin Audio, the company went on to provide the complete sound solution in 2008, and has been the sound company of choice ever since, a feat so far unprecedented with audio suppliers at the festival.
The W8L system served the Pyramid Stage proud until 2014, when the hyper-hi-tech MLA system made its Glastonbury debut. With its unique abilities to be programmed to cover an audience incredibly evenly, and equally importantly control what goes on beyond the audience, it has made a notable difference to the experience, raising levels to the low 100dB’s whilst still managing to not upset the neighbours.
Ben Milton - 'Zoning single components is very easy with the MLA. As audience size increases/decreases, temperature changes, it’s very easy to adjust the MLA subtlety and keep it within the Pyramid bowl.'
Festival production recognised what this arrangement brings to the show, and as a result, RG’s have now been supplying West Holts and Block 9 Genosys with MLA Compact systems over the last two years. In the case of West Holts, a stage renowned for staging the weird and wacky as well as a wide range of world music, it was a matter of containment within the festival itself. West Holts is surrounded by many traders and is close to both Greenpeace and the Glade Stage, who have suffered in previous years from overspill from the action on stage. The remit was to try and maintain the levels in the West Holts arena whilst keeping the levels down in the surrounding stages and markets. Jack Bowcher, assisted by Damion Dyer and some West Holts veterans from past years, once again deployed 40 MLA Compact and 16 MLX subs, set out to a far-flung field and nailed it!
“This stage is MLA compact” explained Damo. “It’s a multi-cellular system with resolution up to 4 amplifier channels, doubling up on low end drivers. The system basically ignores what’s coming out of the PA at close range and instead focuses on what actually arrives at the audience”.
A new addition for West Holts were 24 of Martin Audio's flagship XE range of monitor wedges. Low profile, very loud and featuring CDD technology in a uniquely designed cabinet for optimal pattern control, this was the first serious public outing for these radical monitors. All feedback (pun intended) was very positive, and they looked great on the telly!
In an even further flung field, beyond the fields of Avalon could be found Block 9, one of the most popular of the extraordinary choice of late night dance venues the festival now curates. After all the music stages have finished, the site splits in half – the south-east corner and the north-west corner - thousands flock to the South East corner to lose themselves in Shangri-La and Block 9. These stages run through the night until 6am, and the punters naturally want it pumping. The neighbours, however, do not. The license regulations state that no one sound system should be heard off site after 23:30. Genosys is out in the open air, and has suffered in the past from being reduced to a mere 88 dBA, which is not conducive to shaking it about.
“It’s the second year RG Jones have provided the solution here”. Explains Simon Honywill “Historically they’ve had huge problems with the leakage because the licensing regulations state that off-site no one single noise source can be heard above the overall festival hubbub, and they had real problems with this one. It was a ground stacked left and right system and they were running at 80 to 83, 85 if they were lucky. We came up with this solution - 10 a side Martin MLA Compact and 12 DSX subs, and two little arrays of MLA Mini as in-fills. It’s been a really great result and they’re very happy with it. You can do so much more with [MLA] it leaves everything else in the dark, it makes a conventional line array look and sound prehistoric because you can’t control the wavefront in anything like the same way and get the same degree of coverage – and get it to stop hitting where you don’t want it hit. But it does all that and sounds incredible, really incredible. It sounds amazing – that MLA system, I’d have that at home if I could! I absolutely love it. I knew exactly what MLA Compact could do and never doubted we would get a great result for the lovely people of the weird and wonderful world of Block 9"
At Glastonbury 2017, RG Jones’ crews and systems provided another world class service. Conditions were far better than in recent years but it is still massive amounts of high tech audio equipment, and a challenging schedule that consists of complex turn-rounds, long hours and every conceivable variation of stage set-up. The festival scene in the UK and Europe is now huge, and there are crews doing their jobs out in parks and fields every weekend throughout the summer, in all weathers. Glastonbury Festival manages to present its own specific set of challenges, and is often enough to break the most stoic of crew. Not so for the amazing people who every year go beyond the call of duty to make this happen. For RG Jones Sound Engineering, it means the world and our thanks go out to all of you involved this year.
2017 marks our tenth year at Glastonbury and the line up on Pyramid was as outstanding as ever, consisting of Radiohead, The Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran. The level of expertise and professionalism from the crew, led by Ben Milton, was exemplary. “We have 37 crew in total and we arrived in 5 artics” explains Ben “I look after the logistics of getting the kit to and from, the go between with the festival. Lots of upfront preparation is required on a job of this scale. With a little help from the sun this year the team walked the turf, made sure all the structures were in the correct position and orientation. Six hours into load in and this year everything was basically in place. 116 components of PA and some very serious infrastructure.”
RG Jones alumni Becky Pell returned for her third year as monitor engineer on Pyramid Stage. “we have monitor desks both Yamaha PM5D – A and B system then guest multicore as well. If someone arrives with their own desk but wants to use our line system, then we’ll patch them into that. We set a base-line EQ for the wedges and side fills store that as the house EQ so it’s fairly safe whoever walks up to it if they’re using our wedges but not our desks. It’s all quite settled before we welcome the first band on, but once we get into a rhythm it gets easier. We had D&B M2 floor wedges which I’m always delighted about and Sennheiser in-ears.. again, my first choice. I tend to do more wedge mixing on this than most of the touring work I do because the bands on earlier in the day are often more esoteric. Challenges often present if peoples advances aren’t correct. Everything is happening quickly and there is not much margin for error. We overcome that by being as organised as possible, spares etc. Plus very good communication is vital between the patch guys, me and Mark Isbister who does an great job.
You are aware of the PA being on but the MLA is very clever. I have heard it do the “hard avoid” thing and that is quite weird! I personally prefer a bit of feel. I always really enjoy working with RG Jones having cut my teeth there, they are a great bunch of people”.
RG Jones thanks the entire team, you are hero’s indeed. Proving the only source of knowledge is experience.
There was some particularly challenging extra bits this year, all of which were a great success and would not have been possible with out the team-work, camaraderie and dedication displayed by you guys and all of your teams on the ground. We’ve had so many compliments following this years festival, from both our festival management and our visiting acts and A-listers! So well done to everyone for working so hard to deliver such a great show this year.