10th December will go down in music history as the date on which the gig of 2007 took place, for this is when Led Zeppelin’s long hoped-for reunion finally took place, playing a charity show at London’s O2 arena in memory of Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun.
Indeed, who knows, it may even prove to be the gig of the decade?
With the show’s huge global profile, there was intense pressure on the band to deliver a stellar performance. With this in mind, the on-stage sound was always going to be critical and so, in order to achieve maximum quality for the musicians, monitor engineer Dee Miller specified a full Turbosound system, supplied by Britannia Row.
Dee has worked with Robert Plant for several years, but it was the first time he had worked with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham—the latter son of deceased Zeppelin drummer John. Unsurprisingly, for musicians who spent much of the 1970s on stage, in-ears were not a possibility.
“I should be so lucky!” laughs Dee. “I had four major players who like a reasonably high stage volume and who, with all those years of experience, know what they do and don’t like. So my job was to make it right for all of them.”
For Plant, Jones and general stage coverage he specified a system comprising 11 Turbosound TFM-350 high power full-range wedges, which incorporate twin 15” LF drivers and a 2” HF compression driver in a 42° angle enclosure. A pair of TFM-450s, featuring a custom 15” neodymium LF driver and a 3” diaphragm neodymium HF compression driver on a 40°x 60° horn were deployed for Page, another pair of TFM-350s plus subs for Bonham and six Flashlight mid-highs per side for sidefills.
“And I’ve never had a bad result with Turbosound wedges,” says Dee. “The TFM-350s are amazing, I’ve done a lot of artists with them and the way Britannia Row integrates the amplifiers and speakers as a complete system is excellent.
“In addition, although other products have since superseded the Flashlight cabinets, we like the narrow dispersion pattern and they deliver exactly what’s wanted.”
Mixing on a Heritage 3000, Dee was very busy during the show as the monitoring requirements kept him well on his toes.
“With John Paul Jones playing bass guitar, bass pedals and keyboards, there was a lot going on,” he says. “And Robert likes it edgy. He has a lot of top end on his vocal mix, so it’s always a challenge. I have to keep an eye on him and my hand on his fader at all times. He likes to know that we're really pushing things.”
He continues: “There was a lot of pressure because, of course, it had to be absolutely right. It was tough at the beginning of the show, the first three or four songs were hard work but it settled down as we got into the set.
“As monitor engineer you just want the band to be happy and the Turbosound speakers delivered exactly what was needed. I was told afterwards by production manager Jim Baggot that they were happy. For me, that’s all that mattered.”
For the after show party at the adjacent IndigO2 venue, regular Turbosound user WE Audio supplied 24 TFM-320 and TFM-330 wedges. As with the first part of the main show, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings were performing with a number of guests, this time including Ben E King, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge and Paul Rodgers.
WE Audio are the Rhythm Kings regular audio supplier, but the addition of guests meant that no less than 20 wedge mixes were required, plus in-ears. Amplification was by MC2 with system processing by XTA.
“It was hard work with the sheer number of mixes, but it went extremely well,” says WE’s Wayne Barker.
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