Rock Muse-ic . . .
Sunday, 20 January 2002
Devon-based rock trio Muse appeared at a wide variety of UK and European venues at the tail end of 2001; Mike Mann saw them in the cavernous London Docklands Arena.

Lighting designer Oli Metcalf has seen his system squeezed into small clubs and stretched to fill a full arena stage - and has managed to keep the CAV-supplied rig intact along the way. Metcalf is using CAV for the first time, a decision, prompted by their stock of up-to-date High End product. "I’m using 16 Studio Color washlights and the same number of Studio Spot CMYs," he revealed. There are also 14 AF1000 strobes in his design and a quartet of modified Cyberlight Turbos - their rear cable entries have been removed to allow them to stand vertically under four fabric cones which form an important part of the set. "CAV seemed to have all the new High End kit I needed, and they had no problem with me wanting to work with my usual crew," said Metcalf, who also brought in Total Fabrications to build top plates for his truss towers, allowing moving lights to be attached to a standard length of well-secured barrel.

To drive the Pars, ACLs and Source Four profiles, Metcalf specified 72 channels of Avolites ART 4000 dimmers. "They have an amazing DMX response time," he said, adding that his console of choice was the Avo Sapphire 2000. "It’s a very busy show - it’s all about timing - so a quick response is really important." Metcalf’s system shared projection screens with a fast-moving video design, necessitating accurate focusing and luminance control throughout the band’s varied set. Video itself was provided by Excel, directed by Gerard Corry - who was under strict instructions to keep cameras out of the band’s way. "The band didn’t want huge cameras around the stage - and to be honest, they move about so much that handhelds wouldn’t have been much use," he explained. Instead, Corry opted almost entirely for Toshiba and Panasonic mini-cams. "With these, we can get where other camera’s can’t reach!" he laughed, highlighting mini-cam mounts on lead singer Matt Bellamy’s mic stand, the neck of his guitar and the edge of the lead keyboard. "Everything is done in close-up," he added, "and it gives the show a great bootleg kind of feeling."

The rest of the video system contained a custom configuration of Excel gear to handle the higher camera count. A Panasonic MX50 console, Magic DaVE formed the heart of the PPU, with Barco 6400 projectors illuminating a pair of side-screens.

The Muse brand of heavy rock gave Yan Stile of audio supplier Canegreen a chance to put his shiny new EAW rig to the test. The breadth of musical styles during a typical set means that the heavy metal approach will never work with this outfit. A pair of KF-760 and KF-761 line arrays, underpinned with two blocks of 20 SB-1000 subs, were used to fill the floor of the London Arena, the largest venue of the tour. Production manager Chris Taplin had specified drapes over the unused bleacher seating in the arena to help reduce the venue’s tendency to reduce every number to unintelligible clanging.

A bigger improvement, however, was created by the accurate rigging of the EAW system. Having constructed the trademark ‘J’ hang (in fact a near-parabolic curve that allows the wider-dispersion KF-761s to integrate with the KF-760s used for the far field), Canegreen’s Paul McCauley and FOH babysitter Rej Jane managed to concentrate a chest-thumping amount of power onto the floor without undue spill above head level. With a packed arena floor, enough absorption was present to give an intimate feel to the band’s sound, despite the huge distances involved.In Europe, the show (and the PA system) had to be shoehorned into smaller venues, dictating a flexible approach to system engineering, involving, for the Paris show, the use of ratchet straps and the proprietary EAW frames, which permit ‘solid’ angles to be created between boxes. FOH engineer Marc Carolan: "You can take this anywhere - and it’s p

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