This article originally appeared in issue #276 of TPi, which you can read here. Words by Jacob Waite.
Taking place a stone’s throw from the contest, Liverpool City Council staged Eurovision Village – a hub for Eurovision fans and locals to experience the joy of live music on Liverpool’s Pier Head. Production management was provided by Events Design Company, led by Josh Keogh. The wider production team included Adlib (audio, lighting and video), ES Global (staging), Marshall Day Acoustics (noise management), PS Events Crew, Roadphone NRB (communications), STS Production Services (backline), Titanium Fireworks, UK Events Group (SFX) and UK Rigging.
Programming from Liverpool City Council reflected the host city’s slogan ‘United By Music’ and included performances from Ukraine’s former Eurovision winner Jamala, alongside BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the English National Opera, popular Ukrainian artists, as well as local and international artists to keep the party going throughout the nine days of celebrations. “It’s fantastic to have provided an opportunity for artists to perform in front of a multinational crowd. We had a variety of Ukrainian artists and creatives who have collaborated with us to make this possible. It’s an honour to host for a country that has been through so much.” Keogh notes.
“It’s amazing to work with a company which encompasses so many disciplines within one line of communication, and being able to adapt as we go with Adlib-owned kit to fulfil requirements such as the live recording was brilliant.” continued Keogh, citing Adlib’s approach to their role in the project.
“ With over 80 acts performing across the 9 days, many things can change, so having this experience to overcome challenges to deliver a series of amazing shows was essential,” Adlib’s Project Manager, Nick Whitehead added. “With 40 years as a reputable company, Adlib can provide a complete service.”
According to Lighting Designer and TPi Award-winning Operator, Dave Smith, the aim was to “strike a balance” between “eye candy” and a “normal gigging show” after dark. “The workhorses on stage were the Martin Aura PXLs and MAC Ultras, as well as two long throw Robe BMFLs on RoboSystem for followspots. For effect lighting, I selected SGM Q-8s because they are a powerful IP-rated strobe, Martin VDO Atomic Dots are also a great strobe for added ‘sparkle’ on stage.”
A full-size grandMA3 with a grandMA3 light console providing back up, was chosen with a generic busk file setup by Lighting Programmer, Tom Webber and Smith, having designed the system on Capture software at Adlib’s previsualisation suite.
Smith and Webber were joined by Lighting Crew Chief, Kevin Byatt; Lighting Project Manager, Mike Blundell; and Lighting Technician, James Bailie. “The reception from visiting engineers was brilliant,” stated Smith. “As a young lighting designer and operator, it was great to be trusted with a high-profile event such as this, and I have a great sense of pride for my home city.”
Video Crew Chief, Rob Bickerstaff states, “We had a standard festival setup at the front end and delays, as well as a VIP section, which received an SDI feed with video and embedded audio.”
Adlib supplied outdoor-rated, Unilumin LED panels with climbable screens and a high wind rating, ideal for a site next to the Mersey. “We added several bracing trusses behind the screens to account for the weather, which is always very unpredictable on this site,” Bickerstaff explained.
LED was driven by NovaStar processors and a Barco E2 Gen 2, which allowed the video team to take in and distribute signals at 4K up to 60m away from the control cabin to FOH and side stage using Lightware Visual Engineering fibre and Theatrixx fibre transmitters receivers.
Adlib’s new Cobalt camera system captured the action on stage with two Panasonic UC400 cameras on 90x lenses and three Panasonic UE160 PTZ cameras.
Alongside Video Project Manager Nick Whitehead, the on site video team comprised of Video Director, Tom Wearing; Video Server Technician, John Haggart; Video Racks Engineer, Kieran Bruton; Record Engineer, James Williams; and Camera Operators, Ash Dawson, Stephen Webster, Scott Nolan and Will Sutcliffe.
Adlib’s content division was entrusted with creating motion graphics which were used on-site between acts and across Merseyside, with integration between video and audio a core element of the production.
‘EVERY ENGINEER LEAVES WITH A SMILE ON THEIR FACE’
Adlib’s system technician Billy Bryson used his experience of this site to deploy a word class system on Liverpool’s waterfront.
“Utilising 3D models from past shows we’ve delivered on the Pier Head, we could work closely with Event Design to tweak the site layout to ensure delay positions were acoustically optimal. Infrastructure running to these locations was shared between audio and video to serve delay hangs, LED screens and equipment at the VIP bar.”
The loudspeaker system featured L-Acoustics K1 and K2 in the main hangs with flown KS28 subs. This was further complemented by ground-stacked KS28 subs, K2 side hangs, and A10s plus A15s for fills. To ensure adequate coverage across the whole waterfront site, Adlib deployed two sets of K1/K2 flown delays.
According to Bryson, the combination of K1 and flown KS28 allowed the team to keep the low-end SPL attenuation over distance to a minimum. “Maintaining good low-frequency coverage meant we could keep the overall SPL at a good level throughout the whole village. The K1 delay hangs ensured that everyone got to experience the show in full.”
“Every engineer left with a smile on their face,” Bryson said. “Being able to extensively model the system design in Soundvision before the show, coupled with tools such as L-Acoustics' Autoclimate, lead to consistent results across the site throughout the nine-day duration.”
Adlib provided a DiGiCo SD5 at monitors, an SD7 Quantum at FOH and a utility SD11i handling presenter channels, changeover DJs, and shout systems “ Being able to move audio between DiGiCo MiniRacks at FOH, Monitors and the Video cabin independently of the main consoles was extremely useful.” Bryson explained.
On stage, Audio Crew Chief Robyn Hannah, handled the audio advance for the many acts coming through the stage including RF coordination, working closely with Ofcom. “When it comes to RF on stage, we know what works in the area,” Hannah said. “It’s been a process to collate and coordinate RF needs for the Eurovision Village, particularly with the Eurovision Song Contest and all other activations around the city happening at the same time.”
Due to the logistics of the stage and site, very few visiting engineers brought touring packages, meaning Adlib was more hands-on than in a typical festival setup. “It was great to get totally stuck in,” Hannah remarked. “This was unlike any other project and one I’ll always remember.”
As an inner-city festival, traffic and noise management was vital. “To build a site like this, you must close roads, facilitate parking, and situate the stage in a sensible location given that a canal runs through the middle of the site,” Keogh noted. “Marshall Grey monitored the sound across the city. We sat between 92 to 94dB, depending on the act. We also tried to limit the impact for those who live and work within the area,” Keogh concluded.
Alongside Robyn Hannah and Billy Bryson the Audio team featured: FoH Engineer, Chris Snow; Monitor Engineer, Chris Smethurst; Stage and Patch Technicians, Kenny Perrin and Sam Cooknell; as well as Stage and QLab Technician, Joe Baker. Extending her thanks to the crew who worked tirelessly across the event, Adlibs Project Lead, Leah Coyle enthused: “Liverpool is the perfect host for Eurovision, the amount of activations and events across the city has been staggering, including the Eurovision Village. As a local company, we are incredibly proud to play a part in such a historic moment for our city, and it’s been a great way to kick off festival season.”
‘AN AMAZING MOMENT FOR THE CITY OF LIVERPOOL’
PS Events Crew provided site, production and hospitality crew for Eurovision Village, opening ceremony and art installations across Liverpool as well as power and draping crew in M&S Bank Arena with 30 members of crew on the load in- and -out of the Pier Head site.
The team also doubled as hospitality staff for opening ceremony at Liverpool’s historic St. George’s Hall. “I was walking around with food on a tray because I like to be hands-on, even as a company director,” PS Events Crew’s Phil Stevens remarked.
Of the 108 PS Events crew members on site at Eurovision Village, 90 were regular PS Events staff. “I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of a project like this. The crew had an added spring in their step. It was an amazing moment for the city of Liverpool,” Stevens concluded.
ES Global provided the ground support truss structure, stage deck, ramps and treads, commentary booths, camera platforms, access stairs and the cable gantries inside the arena. It also provided the main stage, FOH structure, accessible viewing platform, delay towers and video screen support for Eurovision Village.
The company provided 16m LT stage for the main stage and ES Global Decking system for the accessible viewing platform. ES Global LT truss was used to combine the two delay towers with the two-video screen supports to maintain good sightlines across the site, as well as building FOH.
“It was an honour to be involved in such an iconic event – Liverpool welcomed us warmly and looked glorious,” ES Global Head of Staging, Mark Hornbuckle commented. “Eurovision showcased the UK events industry at its best, with the arena providing a stunning platform for the show. It was the perfect springboard for our busiest ever staging season.”
The wider Eurovision Village crew comprised: Stage Managers, Dean Pendleton-Brown and Matt Weeks; Backline Technician, Connor Hanmer; and the stage crew of Gareth Stevens, Dylan Howells, John Welsh, Gary Grant, Jason Stickland, Oliver Price, Steph Mitchell and Alice Winter; as well as Artist Liaisons, Evie Oliver and Emily Buckland and of course, the entire event would not have happened without the extensive effort of everyone in the Culture Liverpool team at Liverpool City Council, who's groundbreaking approach to welcoming the Eurovision Song Contest is an example to all cities, and will leave a legacy for many years to come.
It’s been well-documented in the past dozen pages that it takes an army to create a spectacle like the Eurovision Song Contest and the Eurovision Village. Having spent the past few weeks chatting to some of those involved, I can attest that this year’s event will go down as an illustration of the technical ingenuity, cross-border collaboration and hard work that the very best in the live entertainment sector has to offer. Over to you, Sweden.