Academy Music Group: ‘Cracking System’ For O2 Academy Edinburgh, More Flexibility For O2 City Hall Newcastle

O2 Academy Edinburgh. (Picture by: Alan Rennie Photography)

Academy Music Group (AMG) announced significant investment into two of its buildings, the O2 Academy Edinburgh in Scotland, and O2 City Hall in England.

The 3,000-capacity O2 Academy Edinburgh received high-end audio and lighting systems to match state-of-the-art touring specifications, co-designed and installed by Liverpool-based Adlib.

O2 Academy Edinburgh: Academy Music Group Expands To Scotland

The project was led by AMG’s group operations manager Steve Hoyland, and Adlib MD Andy Dockerty. Together, they specified the world-renowned L-Acoustics K2 system, which has become an industry-standard.

“Our latest acquisition, O2 Academy Edinburgh, has huge potential, with the right capacity to bring more world-class shows to the city. By investing in brand-new, state-of-the-art sound and lighting production facilities, we can really enhance our offering for a wider variety of events, as one of the major venues in our portfolio,” said Hoyland.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Academy Music Group,” added Dockerty, “Working together with the team and O2 Academy Edinburgh’s Technical Manager Rob Watson, was key in designing, specifying, and installing an audio system to provide excellent venue coverage in what had traditionally been a complex room for audio.

“The lighting system also provides a high level of industry-standard fixtures and options meaning that any touring artiste can facilitate a high specification audio and lighting production with the in-house equipment. The house standard is of such a high specification that there should never be a need to bring in touring production which will be beneficial to all parties.”

See: New Sound System For O2 Academy Glasgow In Scotland

Declan McKenna performing on stage at the O2 Academy Edinburgh, Sept. 3, 2021. (Picture by Cameron Brisbane Photography)

Some details on the new system: eight K2 cabinets per side, supported by three Kara 2 cabinets per side suspended from the lower ceiling, filling in the lower left and right areas that the main K2 hangs can’t cover. They are complemented with a further two L-Acoustics A10 cabinets per side, acting as delays for the lower ceiling area. Another two A10 cabinets a side are positioned on the subs providing front in-fills. The sub cabinets are the L-Acoustics KS 28s of which there are four per side. To cover the small balcony at the rear of the room, there are four L-Acoustics X8 cabinets suspended from the ceiling just in front of the balcony.

The system is powered by LA12X amplifiers and additional signal processing is provided by two of L-Acoustics’ latest P1 processors. Consoles are both the popular DiGiCo SD12, and the system has a three-way split to allow for any broadcast splits that may be required.

The in-house offering for bands comprises twelve AAMP5 Bi-Amp wedge monitors, an AA215 Drum Sub and side-fills comprising of a pair of AA DF 122 Mid Highs and AA DF 215HL subs, all powered by Linea Research LR44s, as well as “an extensive microphone and stand selection,” according to AMG.

Yungblud performing at the O2 Academy Edinburgh, Oct. 11, 2021. (Picture by Cameron Brisbane Photography)

The centrepiece of the lighting system is formed by 12 Ayrton Diablo-S Profiles, which proved to be a success in other Academy Music Group venues. They are supported by 18 Martin MAC Aura XB fixtures, and 20 Robe LEDBeam150 fixtures. Key lighting comes from six Chauvet E-910FC Full Colour LED profiles, another six Elation CUEPIX WW2 LED blinders round out the system.

An entirely LED-source rig removes the need for lamp replacement and increases color options for incoming shows as well as being a sustainable choice.

“We wanted it to be rock’n’roll,” said technical manager Rob Watson, “It’s a cracking system and a cracking rig, it’s got coverage of the entire venue. What Adlib has provided gives a guarantee of consistency and professionalism. The level it should be, an A class system and A class support, we couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Upcoming shows at the O2 Academy Edinburgh that get to enjoy all of the new specs, include The War On Drugs (April 17-18), Porter Robinson (April 20), Gary Numan (May 9), MARINA (May 17), The Charlatans (May 19), Beck (June 14), Jessie Ware (June 22), Pixies (Aug. 3), The Dualers (Aug. 6), The Libertines (Aug. 8), The Wombats (Aug. 12), Ian Brown (Sept. 27), The Enemy (Sept. 22) and more.

See: Academy Music Group Venues Go All-Digital With Ticketmaster In The UK

Flexibility For O2 City Hall

The exterior of O2 City Hall in Newcastle, England.

AMG acquired the City Hall of Newcastle in 2019, and has significantly invested in the building to breathe new life into the cultural landmark, and improve its versatility and flexibility with a new retractable seating system – in addition to major restoration works and enhancements in house sound and lighting production.

See: Academy Music Group Assumes Operation Of Newcastle City Hall

The multi-functional auditorium is now also able to host varying shows and events with a maximum capacity of 2,600 as an all-standing stalls area (and seated balcony), bringing audiences closer to the stage. The fully-seated configuration is still an option, and now comes with “improved comfort and sight lines,” according to a press release.

The auditorium of O2 City Hall Newcastle, showing the famous organ and seated configuration. (Picture by Jim Ellam).

“When we acquired O2 City Hall Newcastle back in May 2019, we knew that it needed significant adjustments to reinstate it to its former glory and get it firmly back on the schedule for major touring acts” said Academy Music Group COO, Graham Walters, adding, “It’s a stunning room, one that has seen the biggest names in rock and pop over the last four decades.

What O2 City Hall’s auditorium will look like with an all-standing floor cofiguration.

“Investment in modern facilities – including the option to have an all-standing auditorium – had to be on the agenda to offer a flexible space, as well as keeping a seated configuration. This way, we can hugely extend the variety of live music and events to tour in Newcastle and make sure we preserve its future for people and the community to enjoy for generations to come.”

O2 City Hall Newcastle is part of Academy Music Group’s award-winning portfolio of venues across the UK, several of them unique cultural institutions, including London’s O2 Academy Brixton and O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Newcastle’s city hall first opened in 1927. The Grade-II-listed venue is one of Newcastle’s first dedicated concert venues, housing an original Harrison & Harrison organ.

In addition to the custom-designed seating system, AMG has also undertaken “other much-needed improvements,” including new additional toilets, refurbishment of the basement bar, and a new bar area at balcony level. Visitors and artists at O2 City Hall will also get to enjoy a new LED ceiling-lighting system in the main auditorium to enhance the building’s design and atmosphere.

Just like in Edinburgh, AMG also invested in a full production install of PA and stage lighting systems.

Upcoming shows at O2 City Hall Newcastle include James Morrison (April 2), Russell Brand (April 4), Florence + The Machine (April 15), Paul Weller (April 16-17), Foals (April 26), Keith Urban (May 1), Gary Numan (May 11), Michael Kiwanuka (May 18), Travis (May 21), Bloc Party (June 2), Elvis Costello & The Imposters (Jun3 8), Dionne Warwick (June 14), Ronan Keating (June 15), Roger Daltrey (July 13), The Prodigy (July 18), Kevin Bridges (July 21-24), Ian Brown (Sept. 29), Anthrax (Oct. 1) Will Young (Oct. 19), Squeeze (Nov. 1), Kaiser Chiefs (Nov. 7), Sigrid (Nov. 9), Placebo (Dec. 2), and many more.

Subscribe to Pollstar HERE