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Clapham Grand re-opens its doors to live music

F1:Sound Co installed Martin Audio line arrays and loudspeakers into London’s Clapham Grand theatre, upgrading it to a top live music venue, writes Paul Watson

Iconic London venue The Clapham Grand received a technical overhaul in the shape of Martin Audio’s W8LC Compact Line Array and AQ architectural loudspeakers, installed by F1:Sound Company Limited, which will help put it firmly on the live circuit map. Originally a music hall in 1900, the 100-year-old listed Victorian theatre has previously been a cinema, nightclub and bingo hall, but perhaps its most notable successes came from its time hosting live bands: 50s and 60s stars The Kinks and Chuck Berry have graced its stage, as have modern day super-groups Oasis and Muse. Richard Beck, live music and promotions manager at The Clapham Grand, asked the experienced Matt Bate of F1:Sound Company Limited to bring the venue back to its former glory. Having toured a Martin Audio rig with Scottish band Texas and installed its architectural systems into many cafes, nightclubs and bars, Bates was the ideal choice in carrying out the installation. “We focused primarily on getting the audio elements bang on,” reveals Beck. “We now have London’s best sounding theatre, with the help of F1 and Martin Audio.” Capacity at The Clapham Grand is 1250, which is spread over three floors. Bate used Martin Audio’s DISPLAY predictive software to help configure the sound system. There are four W8LCs per side and a stack of three WS218X subs per side, set just off the stage. Due to the necessity for the venue to be multipurpose – being able to accommodate club and DJ nights as well as live bands – 14 AQ5s were installed: six to cover the upper two tiers and eight on the ground floor; a pair of AQ10s were also deployed close to the bar area to generate extra low end. Jamie Cullum appeared at the venue’s Friends and Family event in May 2010, which was the first time an artist had performed through the new house system; and headline performances from Freemasons and Fatboy Slim are scheduled for late August. Reinforcing Clapham Grand’s pitch into the professional live circuit, Beck concludes: “We’re steering away from the unsigned scene and looking to get ourselves out there competing with the likes of Koko and Shepherds Bush Empire.”