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Fangtastic Weekend for Ally Pally

Alexandra Palace is back to its best as popular US rockers Vampire Weekend perform two sell-out shows, writes Paul Watson

Undeterred by the snow, fans came in droves to see New York rock band Vampire Weekend help put Alexandra Palace firmly back on the touring map with two sell-out shows on 2nd and 3rd December. It’s fair to say that the re-launch of the iconic north London venue has been a major success. The remarkable Peoples’ Palace is now quite a place to watch live music: boasting a huge 10,400 standing capacity, significantly improved acoustics (thanks to some expert sound modelling treatment from Vanguardia); and an amazing glass roof, it feels like an outdoor gig indoors – and perhaps even more remarkably, there are no queues at any of the bars or the toilets. You don’t get that at a festival. SSE supplied the L-Acoustics PA system, which was configured L/R and consisted of a hang of 16 V-DOSC per side; and 12 SB28s ground stacked per side, all powered by LA8 amplifiers. At FOH position, engineer Neil Heal worked from a Soundcraft Vi6 console; and Chris Moon operated an Avid Venue desk at monitor position. A number of d&b M2 wedges were deployed for stage monitoring. Just before the band took to the stage on the Friday night, Ally Pally’s managing director Rebecca Kane explained that although it’s been a learning curve for all involved, she couldn’t have wished for a better start. “Last night’s gig was fantastic – and the sound was just amazing. I have their album in my car; and it sounded just like the CD live,” insists Kane. “Thanks to Vanguardia, we are now able to help engineers get the best out of our room; and as long as we carry on doing what we’re doing, we’ll win.” Vampire Weekend’s ninety-minute set went down a storm with the punters and featured hits from both their albums: their 2008 energetic debut release Vampire Weekend; and the slightly more mature and mellow Contra, which was released this year. Kane and her team hope to build upon their early successes next year; Portishead and The Specials are already booked in for 2011.