Muse Drones World Tour

In early 2015 Skan PA were contracted by MUSE to supply two audio control packages for their tour of festivals and headline shows in Europe, Asia and South America

Each of the identical control packages included two Midas Pro9 systems (FOH & monitors) with a 72-channel line system. The package also included 96KHz multi-track record / playback at each end, plenty of outboard and twenty-four IEM systems to cover as much spectrum as possible. In fact, everything required for a MUSE show except the reinforcement.

Skan has worked with MUSE for thirteen years through five album cycles (Absolution, Black Holes & Revelations, The Resistance, The 2nd Law and Drones). Throughout this time the engineers have been the incomparable Marc Carolan (MC) at FOH and Adam Taylor on monitors.

During the Drones tour, Skan PA’s FOH minder has been Eddie O’Brien. Monitor minding / RF planning was handled by Nigel Pepper until he had to return to his day job and was replaced by Liam Tucker who also took the role of crew chief.

Whilst the summer 2015 tour was underway, back at base there was a complex planning phase to prepare for the following period of arena touring in the USA, Canada & Europe.

The arena shows were designed in-the-round with no cable drops within the arena allowing clear access for drones to fly. Skan PA’s system was designed by Matt Vickers in collaboration with FOH engineer, Marc Carolan; show designer, Oli Metcalfe; and production manager, Chris Kansy.

By late September 2015, Skan were at LS-Live for a test-build of the flown elements which loaded into sea containers in early October. By late October we were in production rehearsals in Los Angeles with the control package arriving separately from Bogota (the other control package still being at sea on the way back from Seoul). On arrival in LA, the FOH Pro9 was substituted with an XL4 and Pro2C side-car with considerably more outboard to handle the higher channel-count for these shows.

With the show being in-the-round, considerable thought had to be given to network topography and resilience whilst balancing this with an achievable workflow.

Matt Vickers’ design called for four hangs of d&b J (long axis); four hangs of d&b V (short axis) and four hangs of J-SUB. To power this with d&b ArrayProcessing, over seventy d&b D80s were flown in the “space station” above the stage. These were fed from a 400A service (208V in North America / 415V in Europe) with dual OpticalCON fibre providing redundant Dante audio and d&b R1 remote control. Additional analogue back-up was provided with wired comms to Skan’s “flown tech.”, Rob Wilkins.

Network infrastructure was designed by Skan’s Tom Tunney and included redundant connectivity to the four pods of flown D80s plus a further set of D80s under the stage for pit sub (J-INFRA; J-SUB & V-SUB) & fills (Y10P).

In total, Skan supplied over two-hundred d&b speaker boxes and close to one-hundred D80s for the arena legs.

Additional crew for the arenas were Joachim Dewulf (Array Expert), Matt Besford-Foster (wingman / support), Scott Maxwell (wingman / support). With Liam Tucker, Eddie O’Brien and Rob Wilkins, the six Skan crew were able to load-in daily in roughly 2-3 hours with load-outs being around half that time. This safe and consistent speed of installation / removal is a benefit to any tour and is a credit to the touring team and advance design.

Towards the end of the arena tour in June 2016, a duplicate control package was built to handle tight logistics into various shows including the incredible headline show at Glastonbury festival.

MUSE are known to push boundaries and the “Drones” tour was no exception. Congratulations are due to all involved; Skan are proud to have been part of it. We wish MUSE continued success.