Return of British Summer Time to London’s Hyde Park

  • London
Live Productions
19 MLA15 MLA32 MLX

AEG Live has brought the British Summer Time Series of concerts back to Hyde Park for the first time since Summer 2019 with audio and video. The 2022 series of one-off concerts featured artistes ranging from the Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam to Elton John and the Eagles. New for 2022 was an enlarged stage, now with a single oak tree and an enhanced video wall.

We first set up a video operation in the UK at the beginning of 2020 headed up by Director of Video Ian Woody Woodall. Woody explained, “We wanted to develop the UK business organically rather than by acquisition, so we were starting from scratch albeit with a strong team of people and support from the Canadian operation.”

Despite the global pandemic, progress has been rapid with the our team involved in many projects including the full 360 package of video lights and sound for the Abba Voyage shows and now BST, their biggest video package to date. The screens to the rear and side of the stage measured over 1500 square metres in area, made up of 4500 Saco video tile. The curved sections either side of the stage were constructed from 540 Roe flexible CB5 panels.

For 2022 AEG had commissioned a new stage for BST which is a full 5 metres taller than the previous one. “It was the first time it had been constructed on site,” commented Ian Woodall. “As a result, it threw up a number of rigging challenges for us when we came to hang the video walls but the end result was certainly worth it.”

As an integral part of the stage, the video walls remain in-situ throughout the entire series of concerts. As such they are used for every artist who takes to the stage including all the headline acts. “We have to work with the artists to ensure our content integrates with their show,” explained Woody. “We are feeding in pre-recorded segments with live footage. They are one-off concerts that have the look and feel of well-rehearsed shows that are repeated night after night.”

Given the site’s proximity to some of the most expensive residential real estate in the world, off-site noise has always been a key issue. From the outset Capital opted to use Martin Audio’s MLA System and this year was no exception.

With the stage rising an additional 5 metres, Capital Sound opted to extend the two main PA and sidefill hangs and streamline the 11 delay towers, introducing their recently acquired Martin Audio WPL scalable line array. Senior Technical Advisor, Robin Conway commented “Had we used the original plot, the hangs would have been out of proportion. So I looked at issues such as trim height, and both visually and performance wise, by increasing the box count we managed to achieve better results, with more energy at the front.”

The quality of the PA this year was once again exemplary, no better so than for Adele … a fact to which the many social posts attested. Solotech senior project manager Martin Connolly, was delighted with both the onsite and offsite sound thresholds, which met the approval of acousticians / noise control consultants, Vanguardia. “Following propagation tests, we managed to achieve great level—an increase on what we have had in the past and with a bit more control,” he said.

This was particularly evident in performances by Elton John and Adele, as Connolly explained. “Elton John was 100-101dB(A) and Adele was 102dB(A) LEq (1 min) and 101dB(A) LEq 5 mins, with 75dB(A) offsite.”

Vanguardia Acoustic Consultant Harry Lang commented “Noise management at BST Hyde Park was once again a great success, with thanks to Capital Sound/Solotech. Their comprehensive technical knowledge of the sound systems across the event site is first class. In addition, their clear and concise communication in time-pressured environments is critical for us as noise consultants. It allows us to ensure on-site music levels are sufficient whilst off-site noise levels are within licence conditions. We look forward to working with Solotech again in the future.”

Bob Boyle, Courtney Barnett’s FOH engineer said this following her support slot on the same day. He commented,“The system was so clear and present that I did not feel I needed to get over my 95 dBA 5 min average to make the mix translate or feel powerful.”

When asked how he found the service provided, he had this to say,“Always a pleasure. Top notch gear, top notch techs and friendly knowledgeable people to work with. Couldn’t ask for anything more. Especially when you’re middle of the bill on a show like the Hyde Park gig, it feels great to have a group of technicians be as thorough and as easy to work with as the group that was out on that one. Having interacted with them as a PM a couple of times as well I’ve come to expect great service from Solotech and they’ve delivered every time.”

Summing up the event, and the technical excellence of the sound reinforcement, production director Mark Ward said, “There were a lot of conversations about how to make the PA sound great and feel in proportion on Star’s vast new Titan stage. Solotech and Martin Audio got fully engaged in figuring out solutions and we more than achieved the result we were after—both sonically and aesthetically. It looked ‘right’ and sounded brilliant.”