Last Saturday I played at the old Coventry Evening Telegraph building in Coventry, in the enormous cavern of the Print Hall.
This abandoned, cathedral-sized industrial space boasts a reverb with a decay of around 7 to 8 seconds – yet in the lower space, there are enough structural elements and early reflection to ensure that the audio doesn’t get too washed-out. Basically, you can wander around the room and find the acoustic that you want to hear (which the audience largely did).
I used quite a low-powered PA system (previous experience with large spaces has confirmed that less is indeed more) with quite small cone sizes: a single 12-inch active sub plus a pair of 10-inch mid-ranges with 1.5-inch tweeters. A pair of 8-inch + tweeter monitors completed the setup.
The lighting rig consisted of just 6 LED floods, 2 on stands set to 100% blue, 4 on the floor set to cycle through a 7-colour range at varying (but all slow) speeds. These provided just enough up-light to overcome the nearby fluorescent lights and to pick out the concrete-and-steel structure around the mezzanine floor.
Two great things about this venue – first of all, the hall is on the self-guided tour route around the building. Audience came and went throughout the day, which was perfectly suited to the long, rambling, improvised nature of my material (some total bad-asses stuck out over two hours of listening, which was an astonishing feat of endurance as it was close to freezing in the entirely unheated hall). Secondly, the mezzanine and stairwells gave lots of opportunities for people to get above me and see what I’m doing – which I’ve been told many times is far more visually interesting than the traditional audience-sits-out-front arrangement.
Many thanks to the CET Popup Artspace, Alan Denyer and Urban for hosting me, and thanks to Aaron Law, Richard Harrison, The Upsiders, Alice Field and Katherine McNeil (amongst many others) for sharing their photos and video clips of the event.
I didn’t film the show as there was enough complicated stuff going on to keep track of, but I did get an hour of material recorded – which will be released soon as a live album.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks to the hardy souls who braved the cold (it snowed!) to come along and watch me thoroughly indulge myself – you’re all awesome.
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