The Explorer

Drawing some 1.3m people to city centre, the third Liverpool Giant Spectacular told a tale of epic proportions – and the fate of its much-loved marionettes.

Produced by street/outdoor theatre company Royal de Luxe, the visual spectacle was accompanied by Adlib sound systems for each giant, and a Music Truck carrying a live band and several reinforcement PA systems that visited gathering points along a 20-mile route. Having served previous events in 2012 and 2014 successfully, Adlib was commissioned by production manager Stu Stalker of Event Design Co (EDC) and Royal De Luxe’s production manager Jeff Havart to provide audio for the city’s final Giant Spectacular.

The Little BoyThe larger-than-life characters comprised The Explorer, the Little Boy Giant, his dog Xolo and a surprise appearance by the Little Girl, who re-entered the story on the last day for the finale. The performance’s theme was ’Liverpool’s Dream’ and part of Liverpool 2018, an initiative celebrating ten amazing years since the city’s ground-breaking 12 months as European Capital of Culture in 2008.

The meticulous planning needed to deliver a show of this scale and complexity began in April, with Adlib’s Phil Stoker and Stu Stalker building on their previous experiences and knowledge of what were the best and most efficient working practices to deliver this event. Adlib’s Leah Coyle was the lead project manager/account handler, collaborating closely with EDC and Royal de Luxe’s sound designer Stéphane Brosse to produce a specification suitable for such a dynamic event.

Brosse had particular requirements for the ‘onboard’ PA systems, each of which featured a standalone audio set-up delivering special effects, each with the capability of being linked together to interact with one another if needed. Each giant also had its own onboard monitor system, which was used to communicate ‘orders’ to the people (Lilliputians) required to operate and drive the pulleys and rigging systems that enabled the articulated joints and wheelbases to move the marionettes.

Brosse stipulates L-Acoustics systems exclusively for these shows, primarily for the wide range and flexibility of its products, the efficiency of the enclosures – the fact both companies are French makes L-Acoustics a first choice. On a more general level, he has a historic relationship with the brand’s touring support team and of its global availability via the L-Acoustics rental network, which aids continuity between shows around the world.

The Little GirlEach of the Giant’s PA systems were positioned and secured in place with several bespoke brackets and rigging designed to maximise the impact of the loudspeaker enclosures while having the least effect on the aesthetics and appearance of the giants themselves. The Explorer’s system included Kiva-II and Kara speakers with SB18 subs, the Little Giant’s system included Kara, ARCS Wides and SB18 subs all powered by L-Acoustics LA12X amplifiers, with a Midas M32R digital mixer on each of the giants.

Much of the event comprised the giants parading along the streets of Liverpool’s city centre, and throughout the journey, they were always accompanied by The Music Truck – a flatbed carrying a full live band, and a 24 element L-Acoustics Kara system with four L-Acoustics X12s for side fill and four ARCS-II for rear coverage, together with ten SB18 subs, all stacked to ensure the musicians also had plenty of room.

The mixing console on the truck was a DiGiCo SD10, chosen for its power and small footprint, running with a collection of outboard effects including a Lexicon PCM92 reverb/effects processor, a TC Electronic M4000 reverb, three Empirical Labs EL8-X distressors, an API stereo compressor and a dbx 160SL dual compressor all contained in an Adlib FX rack.

Liverpool Giants team

There were areas along the parade route where the giants would stop and perform large scenes, and typically these locations attracted the biggest audiences, so Adlib provided large hangs of PA to reinforce the mobile systems. Given the show’s fast pace, central location and audience size, Adlib decided to use large cranes to fly the audio systems so the appropriate amount of PA could be used for the larger scenes. This was a smart decision that also meant the same PA system could be used more than once in different locations over the course of the event.

During the planning process Leah worked diligently with the teams from STS who provided the backline for the Music Truck, locally based John Such Cranes, to source the requisite plant on site, and with Gary Hodson from Hodson Crane Hire, who provided a number of Hiab loader cranes for the event. ‘The intricate planning by EDC’s production management team helped everyone in making this project flow so smoothly and seamlessly,’ Colyle comments. ‘Many of the technical aspects changed at the last minute due to the fluid nature of the performance, but with a dedicated team of 12 very knowledgeable full-time Adlib techs on this project, we could be extremely flexible and react quickly to any changes throughout the rehearsal and show periods.’

‘Having worked on the two previous Royal de Luxe Giant Spectaculars in Liverpool, this was a very special moment,’ adds Adlib Director, Phil Stoker. ‘We are all honoured to have been part of the team delivering the action and to see another fantastic event touch and engage so many people in our home city.’


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