The annual Marines on the Green memorial concert in the Kentish coastal town of Deal took on a special significance this year as it commemorated the 30th anniversary of the IRA bombing in Walmer barracks that killed 11 bandsmen. An unprecedented 12,000 people attended the event which was also an opportunity to upgrade the sound system from EM Acoustics’ compact HALO-C line array to the recently released medium format HALO-B system.
System tech Dave Shepherd, who has been involved with the Marines on the Green event for many years, felt that with the increased audience expected for the 30th anniversary concert, HALO-B would be an ideal choice. “We’ve used the Marine’s own HALO-C system in previous years, but with so many more people expected this year, it was the ideal scenario for the Royal Marines to experience HALO-B in action.”
Shepherd specified two ground stacks of four HALO-Bs on top of a single ST-215 sub per side for the main L/R system supplemented by two hangs of seven HALO-Bs and an MSE-218 sub on either side of the bandstand to cover the audience to the sides that stretched to over 120m away. The system was driven from two DQRacks, EM Acoustics’ flagship touring rack comprising three high power DQ20D amplifiers plus a bespoke unit for signal/data/I/O and a mains power distribution/speaker output unit, which gave Shepherd detailed system control to ensure perfectly smooth coverage from the front row right to the very back of the audience.
“The location of the bandstand and the nature of the event means that our capabilities of flying the size of PA you’d normally expect to cover 12,000 people are very restricted, but HALO-B was more than capable of doing justice to the sonic prowess of the Royal Marines bands, as well as clearly delivering the words of the various speakers to the entire audience during the memorial service,” says Shepherd.
Andy Deacon, director of Zen Broadcast with over two decades of experience with the Royal Marines Band Service in recording and production, was one of the prinicipal coordinators of the event and also mixed the concert on the day. “The people of Deal are a fantastic crowd, with many still deeply affected by the IRA bombing 30 years ago, so it’s always an honour and a privilege to be part of this event which continues to draw a huge crowd,” he says. “It relies greatly on goodwill and donations to be able to continue in this format, and suffice it to say that having come from a Royal Marines concert at Leeds Castle the previous day with a completely different (and much bigger) system for a similar sized crowd, the challenge was on!”
“The combination of HALO-B and Dave’s system design was simply stunning. There was an even spread across the whole site and the new boxes sounded phenomenal – the mids were smooth and even, and complemented the orchestration perfectly. Having just mixed an album for the Marines, I can say it was the closest I have ever managed to get a FOH mix sounding like my studio mix… Congratulations to everyone involved in the design of HALO-B, they really are truly amazing boxes and Dave’s system design did us all proud.”