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Germany’s Eurovision spectacular

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest took place in Dusseldorf where 35,000 screaming fans witnessed its extraordinary final, writes Paul Watson.

The Eurovision Song Contest is the music event of the year according to millions of people across Europe. This year, 35,000 screaming fans descended on Dusseldorf for the final, where they were witness to cone-headed Moldovans on unicycles, bizarre Italian jazz, some outrageously political voting, and bloody Jedward. The venue was the Esprit Arena (pictured), a temporarily-converted football stadium; and the only place in the city that was free for the full five weeks before the show and large enough to deal with its complex infrastructure. First things first, the Eurovision set was absolutely sensational. A giant 60m x 18m LED screen stretched across the back of the venue and provided an array of outstanding backdrops for all 25 finalists, and the lighting show was also fantastic. The d&b sound system was provided by Crystal Sound and consisted of J series flown line arrays, T 10 delay lines, flown J-SUBs, groundstacked J-INFRA subs, Q1 flown sidefills for the stage, and M series wedges. Talking of back-up, redundancy is the key word for this show. There is pretty much two of everything, from console to cable, the philosophy being ‘this show simply cannot go down’. On that note, all twenty consoles were provided by Yamaha (you can’t be too careful, apparently). The full Yamaha inventory included five PM1Ds, six PM5D-RHs, three M7CLs, a DM2000 and several 01V96 digital mixing consoles, plus two DME64N digital mixing engines and a range of MSP5 powered monitors Sennheiser’s contribution to the show was also very significant: 163 audio carriers were provided in total, including wireless microphones and IEMs. Neumann KK 104s (S capsule) were used on all the artists, andSennheiser SK 5212-II bodypack transmitters with EM 3732-II receivers were also deployed, along with HSP 4 headset mics where appropriate; and the IEM set-up comprised SR 2050s (2000 series) and IE8 headphones. “The in-ear monitoring is a really big part of our duties. Almost all of the artists are using them; and for many, it is a new experience – especially some of the representatives from the smaller countries,” explains Sennheiser Vertrieb’s managing director Ties-Christian Gerdes. “We used the IE8s because they’re easily adaptable to the individuals’ ears; and we made sure we spent time with each performer get their monitor mix just right.”

Riedel was also at the heart of proceedings, supplying Eurovision’s complete backbone infrastructure using Mediornet, its fibre-based network system, to transport audio, HD video, data and intercom on one network. 

“This is the largest and most complex Mediornet installation we have ever done; and without a doubt the most outstanding single broadcast event I have ever witnessed,” insists Riedel’s director of marketing Andreas Hilmer. “And for the broadcast production in particular, using Mediornet saves a huge amount of cabling.”

When Europe finally finished making its mind up, the results were announced. Despite taking a very early lead, UK entry Blue finished a predictably mediocre 11th place, and perhaps more predictably still, Jedward’s hideous rendition of Lipstick made the top eight. Victory on the night went to… Azerbaijan! “Is that in Europe?” I hear you cry. Well, geographically, no, but politically, yes – and that’s what matters here. And Brits can take some consolation in the fact that Nigar Jamal, who sang Running Scared with winning act Ell/Nikki, lives in Enfield… A full report on the show will appear in the next issue of PSNE.