The Haven + London is a charity offering support and counselling for the creative community. On 8th December it staged a fundraising Motown Christmas Concert at the church of St Giles-In-The-Fields, hosted by renowned musician and musical director Mo Pleasure. Yamaha was happy to help by providing equipment and staff.
A fixture in Earth, Wind & Fire for many years, before becoming Michael Jackson’s keyboard player and, currently, Bette Midler’s musical director, Mo Pleasure has a close relationship with Yamaha in the US and developed links with Yamaha Music Europe UK through various events in London. He is an active supporter of The Haven + London and asked if Yamaha would be willing to be involved in the Motown Christmas Concert, for which he was musical director.
“Mo is a great musician and musical director, plus he really likes developing new talent,” says Chris Irvine, Product Manager (Music Production & PA) at Yamaha Music Europe UK. “We volunteered to help by supplying and setting up the sound reinforcement. By going the extra mile of providing the crew as well, we could make sure that the sound was absolutely right in an acoustically difficult space.”
Chris worked with audio engineer Mike Crofts to spec a suitable system, which included Mike’s own Yamaha TF3 digital mixing console, plus an NY64 Dante card, two Tio1608-D i/o units; a PA comprising two DSR215 full-range loudspeakers and two DXS18 subs, plus four DXR12 and four DXR10 loudspeakers for stage monitoring, all loaned by Yamaha.
Yamaha also supplied Line 6 XDV75 lapel microphones for the three-piece string section, two Montage synthesisers, a THR100HD guitar amp head and THRC212 cabinet.
“There were a number of challenges to overcome,” says Chris. “As a historic church, St Giles is a very reverberant space, so we had to carefully balance the reverb from the PA with the natural reflections. It has a balcony around three sides and we were working with a lot of people on stage – including drums, percussion, guitar, bass, two keyboard players, four brass, three strings and a ten piece gospel choir. This was in addition to the various lead vocalists, two of whom could be singing at the same time.”
“Because of the church layout and everything that had to be fitted in, there was only one possible place for the PA speakers,” adds Mike. “They were located very close to the front row of the audience, which was seated in fixed pews. So we had to balance the sound very carefully – not deafening the front rows, but still ensuring it was audible at the back.”
He continues, “The TF3 was a very good console for the job. Using a digital snake was handy, because the cabling had to go across various walkways. I did some pre-programming but we had to change quite a lot on the day, which the TF3 made easy. I like the uncluttered control surface, which makes good use of the screen, and the option of using the touch screen, swiping and data controller in the way that best suits the operator.
“One of the main reasons I bought a TF was the configurable custom fader layer, which adds to the versatility. At this gig I had the strings, horns and choir each on a separate DCA, which made mixing the busy live show much easier than it might have been.”
Yamaha’s StageMix iPad app also came in useful, with Chris using it to monitor signal levels. “We were recording the show, via Dante Virtual Soundcard and Cubase, and I noticed a couple of signal issues in rehearsals on StageMix which would have been hard to spot and correct otherwise,” he says.
Despite the challenges of the venue, Mike and Chris delivered a great sound for the performance. “The gig sounded amazing, we had so many compliments about the sound quality. Our involvement meant that Mo and his manager Tony Larking could focus solely on the performance and they were delighted with the result,” says Chris.
“It was a very enjoyable project. An interesting venue with a number of challenges, but we overcame them, while the musicians were top class and great to work with,” says Mike. “It was an iconic event and a good time was had by all.”
Yamaha Commercial Audio is a world leader in the manufacture and supply of professional audio products for a wide range of applications including live sound reinforcement, post production, recording, worship and broadcast. With a world-wide presence, Yamaha’s Commercial Audio subsidiaries and dealer networks provide comprehensive local services backed by a global Yamaha CA support policy.