BACKGROUND - LIZ HOBBS GROUP (LHG)
Liz Hobbs Group (or LHG) was founded in 1990, 32 years ago at the date of writing, by Liz Doogan-Hobbs MBE who grew into the world of events through her early career as a Ski Racer. After her retirement from sport, she transferred from the skis to the screens, presenting sports shows across major national and international networks.
Liz then went on to develop Liz Hobbs Group, initially starting out in artist and talent management and eventually expanding to incorporate full event production, from Sound and Lighting to Staging, Operations, Artist Liaison and Bar Services with the help of her husband, Rupert "Roop" Doogan-Hobbs. Liz's past places LHG uniquely in the sphere of providing events to major sporting arena's, such as racecourses.
LHG stock a variety of lighting, sound, video and stages, accompanied by an army of trucks and tour buses, allowing them to essentially build a fully in-house concert in a field.
The placement took place on the 16th - 20th September 2020, at the Hop Farm in Kent.
16 SEPTEMBER - TRAVEL DAY
I drove from Perth to North Berwick to meet Steven (who will henceforth be referred to as Selby). We then headed across to Glasgow to meet John McBride, the third and final member of our Audio Crew, who mainly looked after patch and assisted in rigging. From Glasgow, we then headed south to Liz Hobbs Group Headquarters in Newark near Nottingham. We headed out for an lovely Chinese meal then stayed the night in a hotel in Newark on the Thursday evening.
17th September - Travel/Rig Day
We headed to The Music Factory for 9am to board the Liz Hobbs Group tour bus for the long drive south to Kent.
Once we arrived in Kent, we went for a recce around the site, and confirmed the measurements we had been given with a laser measure. Measurements such as the height and width of the stage were taken, as well as the distance from FOH to the stage. Unfortunately we had no local crew at this point, and as such did not have anywhere near enough bodies to tip the audio truck fully.
Once the local crew arrived, we worked as a team to hang all 4 hangs, with Selby setting up FOH, Amps and all cabling. Once the hangs (2 x 8 V8 Outhangs, 2 x 10 J8/2 J12 Main hangs) were up Selby started to tune these as we got the Subs (20xJSub) into position. (See gallery below for picture)
Once the subs were into position (measured using luminous tape on a 30m measuring tape from the centre of the stage according to our ArrayCalc files), I then went on to setting up Monitor world.
Monitors set-up was as follows;
4xStereo IEM (Sennheiser G4)
2xShure ULXD Wireless Mics (ULXD2/RPW120)
2xSennheiser G4 Wireless (EW500/E935)
2xWedge Mixes (supplied by band) for one support
This setup used inputs into a split rack, one of which went to FOH through Veam into an SD RACK and the other split came into monitors. In total we hit a maximum of 16 inputs, with 10 outs.
There were 5 directional Shure antennas in use for this setup. These can be seen in the gallery below alongside the rest of monitor world.
Once all was said and done, and myself and Selby had done a walk round the entire system once it was tunes, we got to bed on the bus around 1AM.
18 SEPTEMBER - OLLY MURS
Today was the day - Olly Murs plus supports Rob Mills, Katie Kittermaster and HRVY.
Our crew call was 9am on-stage to check everything over and do RF Co-ordination to ensure everything was clean before the Touring Party arrived.
Olly Murs' team arrived at 10am, and while they were loading in we were relatively quiet, occasionally helping patch some cables/RF. Once touring were happy for us to do so, myself, John and Selby went for lunch.
Once we came back from lunch it was time for the first soundcheck that we were responsible for - HRVY. During this soundcheck we ran into a few issues with RF, largely due to interference with the touring RF. We re-scanned and coordinated again, and were able to continue with the soundcheck with no hassle. HRVY's setup can be found in his rider which is in the section below this.
Once HRVY was sound checked, I saved that as a show file and moved onto the next soundcheck which was Katie Kittermaster. Some humour was found from the fact that I didn't say her name right even once throughout the time she was on-site. Katie's soundcheck was relatively pain-free, with the only hitch coming from her doing playback on her phone, and not having the right adapter. Katie also played acoustic guitar on her sets which made life very easy. We utilised the same Wireless Mic and IEM Pack for Katie, with the mixes being saved once complete as a separate show file.
Lastly, we had a DJ from a local radio station warming the crowd up. The DJ turned up about 30 minutes before he was due on, and due to the self contained nature of his setup, all we had to do was patch him in, as he required no booth mix, and used the radio mic to be used for HRVY.
Once the DJ was off-stage, it was a simple changeover for Katie, as the DI Box for her guitar and her phone were already in place, all we had to do was bring on a mic stand. Katie required little to no monitor changes for her set.
HRVY was next, and his patch was fairly straightforward, with the team stagebox being placed at playback, and the patch already being marked up. We line checked, and I checked the in-ears. There was an issue with HRVY's pack, in that during a frequency re-coordination, his pack had not been re-synced to the appropriate transmitter. This was very quickly resolved, and HRVY headed on.
HRVY and his Guitarist/MD required a couple of changes when it came to their in-ear mixes during the show, however it was nothing major.
Once HRVY's set was done, our RF was muted and all packs/mics returned, I headed to FOH to watch Olly Murs' show, which was excellent. Photos of this can be found below.
After Olly's show, we had some re-arranging of Subwoofers to do, to a Left-Right array, this can be seen below. We also luckily had a spare amp and used this to power 2 channels of delays (comprising 3xQ7/side) at FOH, as Tom's gig was seated, therefore more coverage was required. We had also had a request through for Tom Jones for a VIP speaker. We used another spare amp and a Q7 point source box, with a send from the Main L/R Mix being used for this. We got to bed on the bus around 1am.
20 SEPTEMBER - TOM JONES
Perhaps the most interesting of the days, topped off by Tom's lovely touring crew.
The day started at 9am again, with a standard RF co-ordination before touring turned up. Once this was completed, we helped touring find their bearings. Interestingly, as touring FOH were patching into our Lake system for Audio Distribution, we encountered a clocking issue which made it sound like gunshots were going off. Through radio communications with Selby at FOH, I managed to figure out the issue was coming from the d&b side of the system, and the DS10, which was trying to be the master in the system. Once this was reset, the problem was resolved.
I instantly got on very well with the Tom Jones touring crew, as the Monitor Technician was also Scottish, so we got invited to lunch with them before we did our soundchecks for that afternoon. We were scheduled to have Megan McKenna up first at 2.30pm, however she was on the main stage at Isle of Wight Festival at that point in time, so needless to say she didn't make it.
Next up we had acoustic duo The Dunwells, who brought their own wedges which made life say for us. We sound checked them fairly quickly, with the only issue I ran into being the fact that I had to rely on my in-ears telling me what was happening in their physical wedges. I saved their showfile once everyone was happy.
We then had Chris Simmons who was a solo singer songwriter sound checking. We elected to just use the wedges that the Dunwells had used for ease, and as Chris only had one guitar, this was a very easy soundcheck also. From soundcheck, we ran Cat5 lines in for Megan McKenna's setup when she arrived on-site, I ran for a quick shower then to dinner and made it back to stage at 4.30pm.
Chris Simmons was first up, and his set really went off without a hitch, so much so that it was a very set and go gig, apart from some reverb adjustment. The Dunwells were up next and they were much the same, a very easy slot to look after, once again only minor adjustments were needed, predominantly with the stomp box they were using, interestingly.
At this point it was a waiting game. We knew Megan McKenna was going to show up just before her set, so I had all the frequencies we'd coordinated ready for her to jump into as they had a fly-rack with them, containing their wireless mic and IEMs, as well as having a Cat5 and power ready for them so they could plug and play as soon as they arrived.
Megan and her crew arrived 5 minutes before she was due on stage. The whole audio crew (and the video guy) were waiting for her to arrive, and as soon as we heard the handbrake engage we started tipping their van, taking the custom stage box to SL and plugging it it, with power and Cat5. I liaised with the monitor tech and he handed over the responsibility of tuning RF to me while he patched where necessary. Within 3 minutes, we had Megans tracks coming through FOH, which even Tom Jones' touring crew were incredibly impressed by. Megan then arrived on stage "Fashionably late" according to her manager, or "For fucksakingly late" according to Tom Jones' Tour Manager.
During Megans set, I had an interesting interaction with Liz Doogan-Hobbs, MD of LHG. She asked me if I really needed to be SL during Tom Jones' performance as there was some VVIPs arriving to watch the show/ I replied that I did indeed need to be at SL, at the request of Tom's touring crew, and once Megan was away, I started to take kit down. At this point, Liz reappeared to give me a briefing on who was arriving. Alas, about 30 seconds later, Johnny Depp and Mick Jagger appeared through the curtains. Tom's Monitor tech asked me to give them a hand to get them wired to in-ear packs with headphones so they could listen, and I managed to nab myself a pack in their frequency range also, which was a bonus.
About 30 minutes into Tom's set, I got a comms call from Selby, who said that one of the subs had flagged up with an overheating warning through R1. Straight away my head went to "FIRE", so I very quickly ran past Mr's Depp and Jagger, knocking a drink as I went, and performed a visual check on the subs initially, followed by the amps and then finally, once I'd ascertained there was no overheating issue, told Selby to reset the warning.
I made my way back to stage, and much to my surprise Johnny Depp was standing just around the corner, making himself a drink and offered me one, which I (incredibly begrudgingly) denied as I was working, he then asked me what my role was and how I'd come to work in that position. The single most surreal moment of my life thus far.
20/21 SEPTEMBER - DERIG
After Tom finished his set, we rapidly got the subs out of the way and waiting on the landing pad so that they were good to go as soon as the Audio Truck appeared. Due to the fact that the fills were dead hung, we couldn't drop these until video was happy for to do so, and as a result we dropped the mains first. LHG's J's drop onto touring carts in sets of 4, with very small lips on them, so it is incredibly important they are dropped in the right place, which was made incredibly difficult by the fact that the site, even the trackway, was uneven, and that the video goalposts were very tight up against the stage. Even having to deal with all of this, dropping J-Series is really quite easy, as it is just a case of waiting for the splay arms to disengage (as long as you remember to disengage the safety), and undoing the front connectors every 4 boxes. Once these were dropped, the top board was placed on and the speakers ratcheted down to prevent movement during transport.
The V-Series outings were next to come down, and once again these came down in 4's, however they travel in full enclosed flight cases (which I believe are ex-SSE cases and speakers). Once again, these were dropped into the wheel boards initially, then the case built up around them. Once these were all packed away, I moved to packing up amps, which again was very easy, and just a case of lidding flight cases and coiling cables. At this point, it was about midnight, and I had a slight disagreement with one of the local crew, who I had asked to coil a 3 Phase 125a cable running from the distro to the amps. I showed him the cable I wanted coiled, and headed off to pack up monitor world. About 5 minutes later, I got a radio call from LX saying that all of their motor power had gone mid de-rig and that apparently said member of local crew had killed all de-rig power for the site, which was really not optimal.
I questioned said crew member, who then admitted to me that they had drunk a copious amount of alcohol. I quickly called over his Crew Chief and expelled the crew member from site. Once that had been dealt with and monitor world packed up, I left John to help get monitor cases off the stage and helped Selby load the truck, as we had done the truck pack plan for the way down.
Slowly but surely, the locals and ourselves worked our way through the pack, and finished up in about 30 minutes. We went and did one last idiot check at FOH and Mons, and once we had the all clear from the Site Production Manager, who was going to take our points out for us, we headed back to the Tour Bus at about 1.30am. Just before we got back to the bus, we got intercepted by one of the artist liaison chaps, who said there was a load of booze left over from the after-party. Naturally, we jumped in his truck and headed across to grab as much booze as we could carry. We then headed back to the bus and partied the night away, eventually getting to bed around 4am. We then headed up the road at about 9am the next day, getting to Newark around 3pm due to traffic, and I then had to drive back to North Berwick, which was a long old slog but eventually we got home.
Olly Murs ArrayCalc file
Tom Jones ArrayCalc file