The "Top of the Mountain" concert series, staged in the Austrian Tyrolean ski resort of Ischgl, has become a notable destination for some of the biggest artists in the world. Two concerts mark the opening and closing of the ski season. This year, Robbie Williams followed in the footsteps of Sir Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Alicia Keys, travelling to the Idalp stage, 2,300 metres above sea level, to – if you will – ‘Swing Both Ways’ with his big band.
Nearly 30,000 fans gathered for the show, marking the event’s 20th birthday. Apart from the altitude, heavy snowfalls presented an additional challenge for the production team, led by Hannes Knapp of Fantasy Event Engineering, and, in particular, for the audio crew. A Nexo STM modular line array was in place on stage, with Nexo GEO T cabinets for delay, and Nexo tech support engineer Val Gilbert – in his warmest parka – was there to lend a hand.
“We experienced some of the most pronounced climatic effects I have ever heard. Cold air on the ground, warm air above the crowd’s head, and cold air from falling snow and fog above created a layer of warm air exactly at the height of the FOH engineer position, driving mid and high frequencies straight into the tent,” said Gilbert. “This made it difficult for the FOH engineer, Simon Hodge, to mix in a predictable way. However the sound was solid and coverage and throw were excellent. Without a doubt, STM was up to the task, and performed extremely well.”
The STM’s modularity was a helpful practical factor here, as the system could be broken down into small elements that were easy to transport up the mountain in snowploughs (shown) and snow gondolas. With support from sound rental company Acoustic Network from Germany, the main PA comprised 30 sets of STM Main, Bass and Sub cabinets, supplemented by 8x CD18 cardioid subs.
Simon Hodge and Britannia Row’s system engineer Josh Lloyd, who tours with Robbie Williams, were pleased with their first hands-on STM experience, expressing a desire to spend time with it in more ‘hospitable’ conditions. “The system sounded great, especially considering the tough environment we were dealing with,” says Lloyd. The event’s technical director, Hannes Knapp from Fantasy Veranstaltunstechnik, has already confirmed that STM will be used for next year’s Top of the Mountain.