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Jay Fever: Britannia Row talks working on Jay Chou’s three-hour AV show The Invincible 2

Earlier this year, Britannia Row Productions deployed the biggest PA rig ever seen at Britain’s largest indoor venue, London’s 02 Arena, as part of Taiwanese singer and actor Jay Chou’s recent tour, as PSNLive finds out

On April 26-27 this year, London’s O2 Arena welcomed the largest PA rig in its history,
as Taiwanese singer and film star, Jay Chou, brought his The Invincible 2 world tour to the UK – a three-hour audiovisual extravaganza spanning a diverse spectrum of musical genres.

Supplied by Britannia Row, the vast and complex production weighed in at 107 tonnes and used 208 overhead motors, 44 automation points, 274 rigging points, 14 under-stage lifts and featured a four-minute 180kg confetti hit. As such, the show’s audio component had plenty to contend with.

“We’re essentially working with a stadium-sized PA in an arena-sized production,” explained Britannia Row crew chief, Scott Maxwell. “Everything else in the design had to shrink down to fit inside the venue, but the PA remained the same. One of our biggest challenges in the audio team was working between multiple departments who were all using aerial equipment – there are so many design elements going on, it’s unlike any other show I’ve worked on. It’s been such a lovely environment to be a part of; everyone has worked so well together, despite any language differences.”

Britannia Row’s Josh Lloyd designed an L-Acoustics system for the tour’s European dates, which comprised main hangs of the company’s K1, flown K1 SBs, K2 delays and K2 under hangs below the main K1 hangs. The system was powered by 72 LA8 amplifiers and used Lake processing.

Chou’s FOH engineer of the past 19 years, Drexel Rrez Moliere, commented on the challenges of working a production of this magnitude: “The artist always comes first. Once I know where my artist’s vocal is, that tells me how loud I can mix everything else. Jay’s vocal pitch is impeccable, so tuning his mic is very important. To perform a show with lots of genres is very common for Asian artists – it’s the style of the market – so no matter where he plays, the fans expect a huge production and a lengthy, ever-changing performance.

“I really like this configuration with the main hang of K1 and the K1 sub right next to it. Everything Britannia Row did on these shows was right, I’m so impressed with their skills and their service. I have worked with a lot of different companies around the world, and I have to say that Britannia Row really are world class. The attention to detail the crew gives really makes them stand out.”

Britannia Row also supplied the production with Sennheiser in-ear monitors, Shure transmitter packs, radio comms, L-Acoustics stage wedges, and a playback system for FOH and monitor world using Yamaha QL1s. “You can ask this crew for things all day and they deliver within minutes,” Moliere added. “They’re a pleasure to work with, and I couldn’t ask for better attitudes from a rental company. As an engineer, when you have Britannia Row on your side, you don’t have to worry about a thing. That’s invaluable to me because I can concentrate on mixing the music, and that’s the most important part of my job.”

He continued: “After the load-in in London, everyone was tired and winding down when we heard a buzz coming from FOH. We were touring with power from China, and if anything is not quite right with an analogue desk, you hear it straight away. The Brit Row team fixed it immediately using a TX transformer buffer. With the correct 220 voltage, it was so clean and isolated.”

Britannia Row account manager, Dave Compton concluded: “It’s always a pleasure to work with the production manager, JC Chen, and promotor Felix Wang of Magic-Sound UK, who have the tough job of coordinating the production schedule of such a large show and a star in such high demand. We at Britannia Row are ready to support them with whatever they need, and look forward to welcoming them back to Europe with their next project.”