The 2010 football World Cup has been characterised by the massed hooting of vuvuzelas wielded in their thousands at every game. But the competition kicked off with a far more tuneful event, a major concert to which Sennheiser wireless equipment made a massive contribution.
Taking place at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, the June 10th concert celebrated the competition's first staging by an African country and featured artists from across the globe, mirroring the eclectic collection of nationalities represented by the football teams themselves. Alongside the Soweto Gospel Choir were African acts including Hugh Masekela, John Legend and Angelique Kidjo, with Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Shakira and others imparting a truly international flavour.
Audio for the event was supplied by Britannia Row Productions and included a comprehensive array of Sennheiser equipment.
"It was a non-stop show, broadcast live to around a billion people - so no pressure!" says Brit Row's Bryan Grant. "It featured huge radio content, because not only did the international artists have their usual amount, but there were drummers and other performers parading on and off stage who required additional equipment."
Working closely with the show's production manager Jim Baggott and crew chief Derrick Zieba, the crew included Pete McGlynn (audio stage manager), Chris Coxhead (FOH show engineer), Ben Phillips (monitor engineer) and Tony Scaife (radio tech), with Sennheiser actively supporting the event by providing additional equipment to help Brit Row ensure that everything went without a hitch.
The array of Sennheiser equipment present was vast, with Black Eyed Peas alone using 22 EK 2000 IEM receiver packs, six SR 2000 dual IEM transmitters, 10 SKM 2000 chromed microphones with 935 capsules, five SKM 2050 dual mic receivers and three headsets, plus an array of antennas, networking gear and cabling.
"We were able to get clean frequencies the day before rehearsals with a scanner, working with what Tony Scaife had already planned out," says the band's monitor tech Thomas Huntington.
"Our wireless system - designed by Ryan Cecil - is very intuitively constructed and we only had to change one mic frequency due to something stepping on it, but that was expected once all the broadcast stuff was on. We tested the full system across the whole stage, but everyone stayed pretty much in the main part - they were not walking out to the wings - so we were rock solid.
"All-in-all, it was a surprisingly easy show for us because we did not have the video wall that we have on the arena shows to contend with. It was a good gig and we had no issues with the gear. Tony was great and working with the Brit Row and Sennheiser guys was a treat. They made the gig a breeze!"
Black Eyed Peas monitor engineer Kevin Glendinning was also working with Alicia Keys, the latter using 12 units of Sennheiser ew 300 G2 in-ear monitors.
"It was a busy day for me," he smiles, adding, "It all went really well, a big testament to the many channels of RF we had going, which all worked very well together because they were all Sennheiser."
Other performers using Sennheiser included Shakira and Angelique Kidjo (SKM 5200 with KK 105 head), Hugh Masekela, John Legend and Lira (SKM 935 G3) and Vusi (SKM 935).
Presenter and other performer microphones were SKM 5200s with KK 105/104/5235 heads plus 3532 receivers, while Sennheiser also provided ew 300 IEM systems with AC 3000 combiners, the Vulcan launch system and an A 5000 CP antenna, plus EM 550 dual receivers with SKM 935 G3 and SKM 945 G3 handheld mics.
Grant concludes, "As is the way of these big shows, however much preparation we do there are always last minute surprises. But the Sennheiser radio systems that we carried enabled us to deal with them flawlessly."