Jump to content

Led Zeppelin returns (live sound showcase)

Recommended Posts

Forgive me if this is a repost

Title:Led Zeppelin returns.(live sound showcase).

Author(s):Clive Young.

Source: Pro Sound News

(Jan 2008) New Bay Media

Phew, it's all over," said "Big Mick" Hughes, co-FOH engineer for the landmark Led Zeppelin reunion concert held at the O2 Arena in London. Working in tandem with singer Robert Plant's longtime FOH engineer, Roy Williams, the pair mixed the most anticipated concert of 2007. As Big Mick told Pro Sound News afterwards, "The pressure for this gig was definitely on!"

With that in mind, audio for the December 10 show was supplied by U.K.- based sound rental companies, Britannia Row and Major Tom Ltd., the latter of which brought an enormous Meyer Sound PA based around Milo and Mica loudspeakers. Meanwhile, Brit Row fielded a Midas XL8 digital mixing system for the FOH position, and set up monitor engineer Dee Miller with a Midas Heritage 3000 console feeding mixes to a variety of Turbosound monitors. While Klark Teknik's new DN9696 high-resolution hard-disk recorder was onsite, it was used for virtual soundchecks during rehearsals; whether the concert was preserved for posterity remains to be seen.

"It is different mixing everything except one channel," conceded Big Mick, "but I have known Roy for many years--which made it possible, I think." Indeed, co-mixing a gig, much less one with such a high profile, was unusual for the two engineers. Williams kept tabs on Plant's vocals, while his cohort brought years of experience mixing Metallica to bear, ensuring that Led Zeppelin sounded just as heavy as fans remembered.

Other gear at the FOH position included a TC Helicon Voice Doubler and VoiceWorks; an Eventide H3000SE; and a Leslie emulator. "All the other effects were the desk's onboard ones," said Big Mick.

Bringing brawn to the masses were 72 Milo loudspeakers, book-ending a stage that had a center hang of a half-dozen Mica loudspeakers. Adjacent to the 72 Milos were 10 flown 700-HP subwoofers per side. Ground stacks included nine 700-HPs per side, while four Micas per side provided outfill. Ensuring that the crowd directly in front of the band got rocked, too, frontfill was handled with one Mica per side, along with eight UPA-1Ps strung across the stage lip. Rounding it all up were no less than three Galileo loudspeaker management systems, which handled 36 outputs, while Meyer Sound's director of European technical support, Luke Jenks, was present, having used a SIM 3 audio analyzer to tune the system.

As the monitor engineer for the event, Miller used a Turbosound monitor system with a dozen Flashlight cabinets for sidefills, working with 11 Turbosound TFM-350 wedges around the stage. Additionally, a pair of TFM-450s covered guitarist Jimmy Page, and another pair of TFM-350s plus subs did the trick for Jason Bonham, filling the drum throne for his late father, John.

Miller has used a Heritage 3000 desk to mix Plant's solo tours over the last few years, and remarked, "Robert really likes the analog sound of the Heritage 3000, and I didn't feel the need to change anything for this concert. There were a total of 19 mixes, including effects, to try to get as close to the original sound of the band as possible. The band were very happy on the night, so I guess I made the right call!"

Miking for the gig was critical. Capturing the guitar amplifiers were Audio-Technica AT2500s and an AT4050, while over on the drums, ATM350s were used for rack and floor toms. Earthworks mics were used to capture most of the drum kit, however, with SR30s placed around the hi-hat, timpani and ride cymbal, and SR25s used for overheads, cymbals, the snare bottom and the kick (the latter fitted with an Earthworks KickPad). A Shure SM52--also fitted with KickPad--was additionally placed on the kick drum, while an SM57 handled the snare top. Over on bass, two SM52s were used, and all vocals were heard via the old standard, the Shure SM58.

Speaking after the show, Bryan Grant, managing director of Britannia Row, noted, "I'd just like to thank all of our crew who have been working on this project since we got the call to provide a monitor system back in June for the first get-together. They gave Mick, Roy and Dee the backup they needed, and helped deliver a brilliant show for both Zeppelin and all of the artists performing the first half of the show."

The show was definitely "an iconic event," said Brogaard, head of Major Tom, Ltd., in a statement, adding that working on it was "an honor and a privilege. There was lot of pressure, but it's always reassuring for us to know we're working with the best sound equipment in the business. The entire crew, from the engineers to the guys running the PA, did a tremendous job."

Not only that, but they got to see a gig that the rest of the world was dying to get into. For everyone else, fingers are crossed in hopes that the one-off show will blossom into a full-blown tour. Those hopes were raised a bit the day after the show when the reviews rolled in; most critics were nothing less than ecstatic. To be fair, more than a few remarked on rough spots in the mix early on, but The Independent, Billboard and Uncut all conceded that the sound was on track by the time "Black Dog," the evening's third number, began--and fans quoted in The Telegraph went so far as to call the evening's audio "fabulous."

"People were paying so much for tickets," observed Big Mick, explaining some of the added pressure on the gig. "It was astounding who was there." Reports named Drew Barrymore, Paul McCartney, Oasis' Noel and Liam Gallagher, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Kate Moss and Foo Fighters frontman, Dave Grohl, among the revelers. "It was like a rollercoaster ride," Big Mick laughed. "You had better hold on tight!"

Britannia Row


Meyer Sound




vital stats

Led Zeppelin


FOH Engineers:

Roy Williams, "Big Mick" Hughes

Monitor Engineer:

Dee Miller

FOH Console:

Midas XL8

Monitor Console:

Midas Heritage 3000

House Speakers: (72) Meyer Sound Milo, (16) Mica, (38) 700-HP subs, (8) UPA-1P

Monitor Speakers:

(12) Turbosound Flashlight, (13) TFM-350, (2) TFM-450 FOH Equipment:

TC Helicon Voice Doubler, VoiceWorks;

Eventide H3000SE; Klark Teknik DN9696; Midas XL8 onboard effects


Audio-Technica AT2500, AT4050, ATM350; Earthworks SR30s, SR25; Shure SM52, SM57, SM58

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...