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Rod Stewart takes Meyer Sound MILO and M'elodie on "The Arena Tour"
In the elite circle of singers that evolved into true musical icons, few have withstood a four-decade career like Rod Stewart. In early 2007, the throaty vocalist embarked on "The Arena Tour," an ambitious theatre-in-the-round production boasting an expansive rig from Meyer Sound. The 56-city North American tour kicked off in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in January, and will be followed by a European stadium jaunt in June and July.
The production is impressive in both scope and scale. In-the-round productions are unusual in venues as large as stadiums and arenas, and they present significant opportunities and challenges. Stewart's tour makes the most of the set, starting with four huge, high-definition video screens that face each direction. Before the show, a video called "The Rodfather" touting Stewart's history as a pop innovator is screened, while during the show, images of Stewart, his band, and shots of the city in which the performance is taking place are displayed on the screens. Two catwalks coming off opposite sides of the stage allow Stewart to venture out of the main performing area and into the crowd. The intricate lighting rig includes multicolor LED lights built into the stage.
Superior sound quality, consistency, and ease of setup were essential to Stewart's longtime production manager and front-of-house engineer, Lars Brogaard, as he planned the extensive system needed to best deliver Stewart's vocals. Brogaard's sound company, Major Tom Ltd., supplied an all–Meyer Sound system featuring 100 MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers, 10 M'elodie ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers, 32 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers, four UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers, and a Galileo loudspeaker management system to drive it all.
Systems technician Ali Viles determines the best deployment for each venue using MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction software, doing one prediction for the venue's long direction and a separate one for the short direction in order to assure each seat of stereo coverage.
"We're using Meyer Sound for one reason: it's the best," says Brogaard. "Vocal projection is the most important thing on a tour like this — people come to hear Rod Stewart. Flying MILO makes it effortless to get his voice way out into the room. No matter where you're sitting, the sound is right there in front of you."
The M'elodie cabinets are used individually for frontfill. "The M'elodies sound great," he adds. "We have them right on the stage edge. They are small boxes and easy to handle. We just put them up and get terrific coverage."
The self-powered design of the MILO, M'elodie, 700-HP, and UPA-1P significantly reduces the stress that often accompanies a major tour. "Because the loudspeakers are self-powered, we knock considerable time off of load-in and load-out," Brogaard explains. "No dealing with amp racks — just put in a signal and power cable and you're off. Sonically, it's an advantage not to have a long cable between an amplifier and a speaker, and doing away with amplifier racks makes the system very neat and clean."
For this extensive, high-profile tour, a Meyer Sound system was Brogaard's first choice due to the consistent performance it provides to each listener seated within the 360-degree setup. "We can make the rig sound the same in every room," he says. "The system is very forgiving. Very little EQ is needed, and the box is just about perfect before you even start to tune the system."
At every stop, Brogaard takes full advantage of Meyer Sound's advanced measurement, analysis, and management tools. Always on hand are the SIM 3 audio analyzer and Windows-based RMS remote monitoring system, as well as the Galileo system. "The Galileo has been extremely useful for driving and aligning our system across multiple zones," Brogaard says. "It makes it very easy to cut out the frequencies we don't want and emphasize the ones we do, especially in the bass range. We like a lot of punch at 60 and 80 Hz." In order to accommodate the four loudspeaker stations that are the basis of the sound system and the distances involved, the RMS system is run over Ethernet.
Brogaard and his crew have experienced first-hand the total dependability, service, and support that come with a Meyer Sound system throughout the tour. "Everything has worked all the time, but that's one of Meyer's hallmarks, isn't it? Their tolerances are so much tighter than anyone else's," he reports. "As for service, you can't get any better. The backup Meyer provides is phenomenal — they really stand by their products and their clients."
The end result is Brogaard's 100 percent confidence that one of the world's most distinctive voices comes shining through to every seat in the house, every night. "Rod Stewart's audience wants to hear what he says and what he sings," Brogaard concludes. "I certainly don't have any worries about that with Meyer Sound."