Since the Danish band Volbeat formed in 2001, its addictive blend of rockabilly, metal, and punk has developed a devoted fan base because of their catchy hooks and pounding rhythms. Volbeat finished the year 2022 with the three-month European/UK leg of their Servant of the Road World Tour after co-headlining a North American tour earlier in the year. This leg of the Servant of the Road World Tour was powered by brand-new PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeakers provided by POOLgroup of Emsdetten, Germany, as opposed to the preceding tour’s Meyer Sound LEO Family system.
The tour’s venues had a variety of seating arrangements, from halls and stadiums to more than 30,000 at a covered football stadium in the Netherlands. The audio team for the tour, lead by systems engineer-turned-FOH mixer Dennie Miller, faced a challenge in making sure that all Volbeat fans had the identical experience from every seat in every location while using a single production package.
No matter where a fan is seated, Miller says, “we have a direct order from the band that they receive the full intensity of the sound.” That’s difficult, especially in light of Europe’s tight maximum-level regulations, which base their measurements on the loudest location in the event. Due to the level of loss caused by distance, delays are used in all venues besides the smallest ones.
Miller worked with Samantha Boone, the tour’s systems technician, to scale the system as necessary for each venue after laying out the tour’s network infrastructure in Meyer Sound’s Nebra system management and monitoring software and creating a default snapshot encompassing the largest system configuration.
Miller explains, “Having a smaller and lighter PA is without a doubt a game-changer. Yes, it’s one thing to assert that we could accommodate the additional truck and bring in spreader trusses to support the weight. With PANTHER, however, we can now go to management and demonstrate that we are taking steps to become more effective and efficient.
The GelreDome football stadium in the Netherlands hosted the tour’s most advanced system arrangement. Here, there were 18 Panther loudspeakers in each of the four delay arrays and two out fill arrays, in addition to the 22 Panther loudspeakers that were flown in each of the main left and right hangs. Four hangs, each with 12 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements that were set up as left and right end-fire arrays, provided the primary low-frequency coverage. A single downward-aimed array of six PANTHER loudspeakers was used to provide coverage for the tour’s “Parasite Pit,” an enclosed viewing area for 200 people. The low end was boosted by 15 900-LFC tiny low-frequency control elements on the stage’s floor.
With audio being transmitted between the 16 Galileo GALAXY 816 Network Platforms by means of the Milan AVB protocol, all loudspeakers were networked for thorough monitoring on the Nebra software platform.
Miller claims that PANTHER’s increased flexibility not only saves time and money but also improves the sound for the audience. We’re discovering that we can now fly the subwoofers when before we couldn’t due to weight limits because there has been such a remarkable decrease in weight for the same power. This is a significant advance. The management is pleased since we are saving money by not purchasing spreader trusses, the rigging guys are less stressed, and the venue is receiving more evenly distributed coverage.
PANTHER benefits the band, the audience, and the company’s profit line. When you need it, the sound is intense, visceral, and in your face. What is there not to like?
Miller also acknowledges the software tools from Meyer Sound, highlighting the MAPP 3D prediction program in particular. He claims that it has been very helpful when dealing with acoustically challenging venues. Frankfurt’s Festhalle, with its curved balconies and domed ceiling, is a wonderful example. In the past, we believed we had done a good job, but after a second look at MAPP 3D, we saw we had fallen short. This time, we rigged it differently, and it was a huge improvement. We essentially halved the RT time.
Along with Boone, other members of the tour’s successful crew included POOLgroup Account Manager Johannes Rosel, Tour Manager Guy Sykes, and Monitor Engineer Pat Rowe, who rode in the back of 20 Meyer Sound MJF210 stage monitors that were integrated into the staging deck. While Rowe worked behind a Midas Pro X console, Miller mixed FOH on an Avid S6L. While UltraSound of Petaluma, California provided the front-end FOH and monitor control packages, POOLgroup provided the Meyer Sound house system and monitor loudspeakers.
The European and UK portions of Volbeat’s Servant of the Road World Tour, which was launched in support of their 2021 album Servant of the Mind, began in Hamburg on October 17 and ended in London on December 20.
With 45 years of experience in live entertainment tours as well as corporate and governmental events, POOLgroup is one of Europe’s top event production firms. More than 150 people work at POOLgroup in its Emsdetten headquarters as well as three further locations.