Live > Equipment
Emerson, Lake and Palmer on tour requires 40 tons of equipment, 18 humper / loaders, seven personal roadies, six sound crews, five trucker / drivers, four spot manipulaters, and two outside co-ordinators. It takes five hours to set up and five more to pack up later.
"The real beauty of the portable stage for us is that every night we're playing in the same box. Only the people in front will change. Also from the point of view of a production it's far more flexible. We can use the lights in the same position every night; we don't have to draw the curtains until we're exactly ready; altogether we can feel at home wherever we're playing."
Jon Lord (Deep Purple):
"Both crews (Purple and ELP) seem to be playing the my-amp's-bigger-than-your-amp game. Don't believe what they tell you, no other band's got this amount of volume."
"We are programmed to write for the big audience, and that is why we have and need the big equipment. It isn't all for show. And nothing is taped, everything we do on stage is done right that moment, at that particular time!"
The now legendary Proscenium Arch was another feature that was first introduced on this tour. A 60ft metal framework, the first of its kind, was commissioned and later constructed by the crew night after night. When in place, it towered over the band on stage and enabled the engineers to have total control over the various anomalies in lighting and acoustics that the band experienced in the different arenas and concert venues around the world.
Quadrophonic P.A. system
Rated at approximately 28,000 Watts (designed by Bill Hough, I.E.S.), travelling through a Mavis P.A.S. 30/30 mixing desk (two 15-channel mixers, quad on each channel), plus a fold-back mixer for on-stage levels. The P.A. utilizes JBL speakers in thirty-two bins, high frequency units and midrange horns, a score of mikes, mainly AKG, plus an Electro-Voice condenser mike for Carl's snare drum. All that was powered by Crown Amplifiers.
This 30 Channel Desk is a development of the Mavis Four Group 15 Channel Mixer to meet the growing demands of modern P.A. and Studio work. It is designed such that every channel may be operated with total flexibility in a four channel quadrophonic setup, and for purposes of live recording it is unique in the fact that a multi-track tape machine of up to 30 tracks may be directly coupled to the channels and a four track Tape Machine to the main groups. The mixer can than at a later stage be used for mixing down to a stereo or quad master using the main group outputs.
The desk is build in three sections. Two wings are equipped with fifteen channels each and a complete output arrangement including four groups and a stereo crossover. The third section, the routing for the two wings and all the extra equipment needed for master quad control and mixdown into four or two track. Using an extra steering crossover each wing can drive a quadrophonic P.A. These desks were built with the finest craftsmanship with engraved lettering, anodized aluminum pullout channels and master tracks, Penny Giles faders, built in tri-amp crossovers and weighs 285 lbs in the flight case with power supply.
The 30/30 Mixer is devided in four parts: A Centre Desk containing Routing, Foldback, Monitor, Talkback, Echo&Cue Combiner, Oscillator and Master Quad and Pan facilities, with 4 Master faders. There also can be build in remote control facilities for Dolby's, Machine Control and Auto Tape Locators. The centre desk has 4 group outputs, 4 machine inputs, two foldback outputs and 4 monitor outputs also group break "in and out" facilities. There are also sockets to connect this desk to the two wings and a plug for the power supply.
Two input wings which are mirror images, and contain 15 input modules, which have input trim and equalisation, also facilities which enable the module to supply a line level drive for a tape machine with or without equalisation also 4 group outputs which may be combined by switches to be used as quadrophonic output or a part output.
There are facilities for 2 monitor or effects outputs and one echo output. The module has a switch that controls the output to group, off or cue. There is also a switch which enables a break socket or the rear panel for effects drive and inputs to be switched in and out.
The fourth unit is the power supply which powers the centre desk and two wings provides a 48 volts Phantom Microphone supply to the thirty microphone inputs.
MAVIS (Music Augmentation Voice & Instrument System Ltd.) was located at: 11a Sharpleshall St., London NW1, England
The lights were designed by Judy Rasmussen (Tom Field Associates), who operates them during the show. There are four huge ladders at each corner of the stage, and two arches suspended over the performing area, all festooned with over 100 spotlights. She was assisted by a staff of several lights operators and a part-time woman who deliver new slides for the round screen over the stage. Judy Rasmussen was one of the first women playing an important role in a major's band stage production.
"It's fine, I just get treated like everybody else. The difference is working in rock itself, rather than theatre. My old friends ask me what I'm doing and when I say I'm with ELP they say, 'Oh well, you're not really working'...If only they knew."
"In the beginning, it wasn't as though you had a professional lighting company, or a professional staging company or a professional anything! The roadies built the procedium and the roadies put the lights on it. No safety chains, no nothing! It was all 'Do It Yourself' on a very big scale. Stuff was falling down, I remember a light fell down and missed Carl by a foot. It would have killed him if it hit him!"
A collection of the pictures projected to the round screen
click the images to enlarge
..there were also Blake images, spaceships, lockheed lightnings, swallows, tin fish and swarms of hornets...
"We hung a huge disc that was 156 foot in diameter above the stage. That was an innovation at that time to have something that big and hung above the band. The cover of the Brain Salad Surgery album could now be part of the live show."
"We have a quadrophonic P.A. and it is true quadrophonic. Several bands have used quadrophonic, but they haven't used it as a four-way mix. Pink Floyd for example: the quad they use has stereo front speakers and their rear speakers are just for special effects. We split the four speakers so it's not just double stereo. We have our system set out in such a way that if I'm playing and Greg's playing, we'll try and have the bass and the drums at the front. We try to get an effect of the organ in the middle. And if Keith's playing a synthesizer so it sounds like a trumpet, we'll try to have that trumpet at the back. So you're getting a sound that is as quadrophonic as you can possible, get in an auditorium."
"The one problem with quadrophonic sound is that it's dependent on where you're sitting. If you're sitting in one corner of the quad, it's disorientating. So its use is limited, but I still feel it's worthwhile. I like it in a live concert setting. It isn't something which you can broadcast the whole music through all the time, but it's appropriate at moments. It's just a wonderful effect; changes the perspective for a while. If only for that reason, I think it's a nice effect."
"We don't really make that much use of quadrophonic. It's an experiment, this is the first time we have used it. It just generally seems to expand sound and make those people who have good seats hear a bit better. There's a slight delay between the two speakers. This sometimes helps to cope with very echoey halls. But there was a problem: In a lot of venues we played it was kind of impractical, because we were blocking fire exits. So on some occasions, we couldn’t use full quadraphonic."
Taping an ELP concert, was easier than live-recording a group who use conventional amplified instruments. Carl's drums had the mikes set directly into them. So instead of having to worry about the mikes crashing down and falling over during a number they became an integral part of the kit, nor would the cymbals cause them to move. There were 15 mikes on the drums alone. All of Keith’s electronic equipment was fed directly into the tape console. ELP took the electronic signal and split it between the P.A. system and the recording console. The tape picked up a perfectly clean sound on Keith. Greg’s mikes, though, picked up some audience sound, and during the acoustic numbers, 'Still...You Turn Me On' and 'Lucky Man', Greg used special highly directional mikes.
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