The Chemical Brothers are without doubt one of the most successful electronic acts to come out of the UK. With a career spanning two decades, Manchester’s Tom Rowlands amd Ed Sinoms have seven albums under their belts and have performed across the globe, spawning a new generation of dance fans.
Saturday 5 November saw the Chemical Brothers take to the stage at the Malta Fairs and Convention Centre (MFCC), in front of more than 3,000 fans, for the last gig of their summer tour. If there’s one thing the Chems can guarantee, it’s to get a crowd dancing, and the atmosphere is electric as the pair work their way through a two-hour set, mixing hits with lesser known album tracks from their critically acclaimed repertoire.
The Maltese hunger for electronic music should not be underestimated. The island may only have a population of 400,000 and be 120sq miles, but it is building an enviable reputation on the dance scene, with the MFCC attracting big name dance acts including Fat Boy Slim, David Guetta and Faithless. The 10,000 capacity MFCC was previously used at Wembley Arena in 2006 as a temporary concert venue during the iconic arena’s refurbishment. Supplied by the Arena Group, the semi-permanent Tensioned Fabric Structure (TFS) was designed and built to Wembley’s specifications. The venue had to comply with stringent permanent building regulations in order to deliver a temporary facility with the feel of a permanent venue, which could act as a music arena suitable for large scale productions.
The acoustic challenges that often come with tented structures have also been combatted through a combination of high tech equipment investment and talented local technicians. Sound Tech, Stefan Farrugia, Fusion Sound Ltd, was in charge of ensuring the Chemical Brothers’ block rockin’ beats rang clear.
He said: “Typically, in a tented structure the sound bounces back. For most of the MFCC events we use a Funktion One PA, a point source system that uses different technology. It has excellent directional control allowing sound to be focused where it’s needed. This is particularly important for acts like the Chemical Brothers, with heavy baselines. The precise sound distribution also means it minimises environmental impact.”
The audio set-up comprised 16 Funktion One RES5T and 16 Funktion One F121 Subs, stacked eight of each per side. Two Funktion One RES2A for front fills, two XTA DP448 speaker management systems, four Funktion One E90 Amplifiers (to power the 21-inch subs and 12-inch in the RES5 Mid High) and four Funktion
One E45 Amplifiers (to power the eight and one inch in the RES5) completed the set up. Also utilised were two Pioneer CDJ1000, two Technics SL1210 Mk5G complete with two Funktion One RM18 wedge monitors.
The whole PA was ground stacked, although Farrugia enthused that the ability of the aforementioned arches means the venue can cater for even the heaviest requests for flown systems. No console was used at FOH; instead Farrugia controlled sound via an XTA Icore wireless system.
Promoter, Noel Magri of Mega Music Management said: “This was a DJ set and nothing compared to the production that goes into the Chemical Brothers live. However, the fact that they played 22 minutes over their contractual agreement speaks volumes.”
When asked about the possibilities of a return trip, Nightingale nods. He said: “The next tour is 2013 – and who knows.” Noel concluded: “We’ve been trying to get the Chemical Brothers over here for a few years now and were ecstatic to finally have them play. There’s a real passion for electronic music in Malta and we’re really pleased with how the night went. We’re honoured to have them here for the last show of their tour.
“There were concerns about the capabilities of such a small island but the feedback has been that the MFCC has actually stuck to the rider better than any number of larger venues elsewhere and the band was really pleased with the gig both on a creative and quality of equipment level.”
Thanks to TPI magazine for permission to reprint this article!