One of the biggest charitable live music events of the year was undoubtedly Children In Need Rocks, which took place on 12 November in front of 4,500 people and a television audience of millions at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Bringing together some of the biggest names – new and old – in the pop world, adding in a ‘will they, won’t they’ tabloid frenzy when it became apparent that both Robbie Williams and Take That would be there, and you had an event that, whatever happened, was guaranteed massive exposure.
With artists as diverse as Sir Paul McCartney, Take That, Snow Patrol, Lily Allen, Dame Shirley Bassey, Muse, Robbie Williams and a full orchestra, the pressure was on Capital Sound to get it right. The service company supplied a Digidesign mixing console at FOH, operated by Simon Honywill, plus a Martin Audio line array PA system with system engineer Al Woods.
Meanwhile, London-based Delta Sound was on monitor duties. “I was asked by production manager Chris Vaughan to look after all aspects of monitoring, which included a six-piece house band with three backing vocals, a 40-piece orchestra and all visiting artists,” says Delta monitor engineer and crew chief Steve Lutley.
“The main challenge was to fit it all within 96 audio channels, so the television broadcast could be done with just one OB truck. Of course we had to do it all within the confined space of the Albert Hall.”
The solution was three DiGiCo D5 consoles, with an array of stage, splitter, amp and in-ear racks, all squeezed into the backstage area.
The first D5, operated by Simon Hodge, took care of the house band and orchestra monitoring which, with the exception of two Audio Analyst wedges, was done on a mixture of Sennheiser G2 in-ear monitors and Aviom personal monitoring systems.
The orchestral monitoring used d&b E3 hot spots and d&b Max wedges, with Simon also handling six private talkback microphones for the band and orchestra’s musical director.
Operated by Richard Sharratt, the second D5 had the orchestra inputs and mixed stems for FOH, the OB truck and for the third D5, which acted as the ‘guest’ monitor console.
Manned by Lutley himself, this third D5 looked after the guest artists who sang with the house band – Snow Patrol and Sir Paul McCartney – both of whom augmented their own bands by using the house band’s drum kit. This D5 mixed 12 Sennheiser G2 IEM systems with 26 receivers and 16 Audio Analyst floor monitors.
“With only two exceptions, all vocal microphones were Sennheiser wireless systems, we used a mixture of 5200 with KK105 or 5235 capsules and G3 with 935 capsules across 16 receivers,” says Lutley.
Meanwhile, microphones for the orchestra’s string instruments were DPA 4060, with mainly AKG 414s on the brass, woodwind and percussion.
Although the music press and tabloids were to be disappointed that Take That and Robbie Williams didn’t perform together – except with all the other artists during the final rousing finale of Hey Jude – Children In Need Rocks was a massive success and raised a great deal of money for the BBC charity.