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Flexible Flex Array gives The Feeling their fill

With a break to write and record their third album imminent, British power pop favourites The Feeling bid a temporary farewell to their fans by spending November touring the UK and Ireland. And with a Turbosound PA system offering no compromises on punch and clarity, every member of every audience really did feel The Feeling!
Turbosound’s Aspect® system is a confirmed favourite of Jon Sword, the band’s FOH engineer and production manager. And on this tour he took the opportunity to increase its flexibility by adding a number of Flex Array cabinets to the Aspect rig.
Mansfield-based Entertainment Sound Specialists (ESS) supplied 24 Aspect TA-890L and 24 TA-890H for the tour, with the rig adjusted to suit the size of each venue. At Aberdeen Music Hall, for example, the system comprised nine TA-890L per side, plus five groundstacked and six flown TA-890H per side, with a TA-500DP per side for sidefill. Complementing these at all venues has been an array of six TFA-600HDP, self-powered Flex Array cabinets providing infill.
“On previous tours we’ve used TQ-440s as infills,� says Jon. “But this time, I wanted to design a central cluster to point down at the audience.
“The lighting rig has three projectors on the front truss, so it wasn’t possible to hang a central cluster in all the venues on the tour. But we could in around 40% of them, while in the rest we have flown them three per side. I’ve got them a little bit higher in the air and I get a full spread. It’s given us a fantastic result, the Flex Array moulds in with the sound of the Aspect very well.�
Because the tour has taken in a variety of venues, the entire system has had to vary in size from show to show. But the headroom offered by the Turbosound cabinets has meant that he hasn’t had to push the system at any venue.
“Turbosound is my box of choice and has been for the past two years,� he says. “For me, a system has to be very powerful but very smooth. If you like to mix loud, like I do, you don’t want to hurt people. The clarity of the Aspect and Flex Array speakers means you don’t get that additional colouration and distortion, you just get the power.
“But if I want to push something, they have enough headroom that they can really scare the shit out of people,� he adds, with a mischievous grin.
More seriously, Jon treats the audio system like an additional band instrument. He has a very dynamic mixing style, but his responsibilities as production manager means that close teamwork on the audio crew is essential.
“I’m always pushing dynamics. I’ve been with this band since the year dot and there’s a great deal of interaction between what they play and what I do,� he says.
“Various effects, different points in the set where I push the whole dynamic forward and pull things back, moving things around the panning spectrum. It is a very busy mix from start to finish. We never rest. That’s all part of the show. I’m not content to sit there and just balance things because I don’t think that’s what music is all about.
“But being production manager as well, I have a lot of other responsibilities, so I have to be able to walk up to the desk and just use it.�
This is where Jon’s close working relationship with ESS system technicians Richard Baker and Gary Brookes is crucial. They know exactly what is needed at every show and they deliver.
“The guys are really good,â€? says Jon. “We work closely as a team and they won’t compromise, which is brilliant. That’s the ESS ethic – they want to get the very best from their systems and they don’t mind throwing the right bodies and equipment at it to make it happen.â€?
With sold-out audiences throughout the UK, and people of every possible age enthusiastically enjoying the shows, it seems that there’s a genuinely good feeling when The Feeling tour.
“It’s gone really well,� says Jon. “We get comments all the time from the public about how good the sound is and most people on the crew are back for the fourth time. There’s such a nice vibe, it’s fantastic.�