Iconic London studio launches monthly concert showcases in partnership with Clash magazine… and Entec lighting

From its base at The Power House, an imposing 1901 building off Chiswick High Road in west London, the legendary Metropolis Studios has hosted the recording sessions behind some of the most commercially successful music of the last quarter of a century, by artists as diverse as Ed Sheehan, Amy Winehouse, George Michael, Queen, Adele, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, The Verve and the Black Eyed Peas.

Since December, however, the building that had once been inaccessible to the general public has been welcoming audiences of up to 150 people into its flagship Studio A – the most expensively treated acoustic recording room in the world – to witness and be part of an ongoing monthly series of intimate live concerts, with lighting support and expertise from Entec.

The series, Metropolis Live, is largely the brainchild of Gavin Newman, who joined the studio team late last year as events & content director, and forged an alliance with event partner Clash magazine. It was in his previous role at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden that Newman originally developed the relationship with Entec that now flourishes at the Chiswick studio complex.

Newman explains: “I originally joined The Hospital Club to run its website but when producer Nigel Godrich’s studio space on the top floor was reclaimed by the club for the purposes of creating a live venue, I got involved with managing the events and the commercial brand partnerships. Over the course of three to four years, we concentrated on promoting exclusive VIP showcases for major labels and management companies, and whenever possible we would record and film performances for the brands to use to support their marketing.

“Although the live sound element was in good shape, towards the end of my time there, we realised that we were falling short by not putting effort into lighting these gigs. I then started talking to Entec’s MD Noreen O’Riordan about a range of possibilities for lighting. We got on like a house on fire and it was agreed that Entec would provide us with a volume of equipment to give us a sense of how we could develop this aspect of the events. They were extremely helpful in showing us the way forward and [senior lighting service technician] Will Wright came in to light the next few shows with some very cool acts including John Grant, Jagwar Ma and Lisa Hannigan.

“Will is a fantastic, intuitive lighting designer and I built up a really good relationship with him very quickly as well as developing a lot of trust in these new ties with Entec, thanks to Noreen and [assistant head of lighting] Adam Stevenson. However, just as all this was happening, I realised that I had outgrown my situation at The Hospital Club, mainly because it’s not specifically a music venue and I needed to transfer my knowledge, skills and ambitions to somewhere more appropriate.

“After meeting Ian Brenchley, the CEO at Metropolis Studios, and having a look around the building, I knew that this would be an ideal venue for live events, particularly as it carried so much goodwill as a place of music creation excellence and would, therefore, be an attractive destination for audiences who had not previously had access to it.”

EXPERIENCE COUNTS

Whilst familiarising himself with the building layout and engineer staff at Metropolis, Newman and his team launched Metropolis Live in partnership with Clash magazine last December, and staged two events in the celebrated Studio A, featuring Saint Leonard’s Horses, Bad Pop and Piano Wire.

“There were a few wrinkles but the one thing that wasn’t an issue was Entec’s lighting,” says Newman. “The look of the room is of the utmost importance to us because it’s all about providing a different kind of experience and I’ve been thrilled with the appearance of the shows. You always know when you’re in the hands of top professionals and I have to say that the lighting has been one of the best things about these evenings. Experience really does count and when you have people at that level doing such a good job, you can immediately cross it off your list of things to worry about.”

Since January, Metropolis Live has been run as a monthly event with acts such as The King’s Parade, Nimmo and Ten Fé. On March 6th, the bill paired brash U.S. band The Orwells with promising garage rock trio Our Girl, and the compact lighting rig typified the range of kit provided by Entec to date.

Being limited on local power, it makes practical sense to base the design around familiar LED stock such as Robe 600LED wash fixtures, i-Pix Satellites, Martin Stagebar 2s and Thomas PixelLine 1044 linear battens, resulting in some striking RGB washes. Along with a pair of scaffolding uprights, a small hazer and a stage formed of Litedeck risers, Entec’s spec also included an Avolites Tiger Touch 2 console manned off centre by Will Wright, who shares duties on the events with Sudip Shrestha.

Tickets for Metropolis Live are available free on a first-come, first-served application or invitation-only basis with all shows recorded in order to generate high quality content for Clash magazine’s distribution. Says Newman: “I’ve always tried to promote the idea of free tickets with brand sponsorship because we’re not attempting to compete with anyone’s tour schedule and that’s a big attraction for artists. Like all these things, you build them slowly and it may suit us to go fortnightly in the future… we will see.”

Adam Stevenson, who manages the account for Entec, comments: “It’s a real honour to partner with Gavin and Metropolis on this exciting project, particularly as the quality of the acts we have been working with has been so compelling. We look forward to developing our relationship with the venue over the coming months and seeing the events grow.”

Meanwhile, Newman is already looking ahead with the launch of another monthly live event series on March 30th. In association with the direct-to-fan platform brand Music Glue, Metropolis Rising is aimed squarely at showcasing promising new acts in front of industry professionals and fans, in the intimate setting of the studios’ bar area.

METROPOLIS GOES LIVE WITH ENTEC

Event photography by Mark Cunningham.
Additional images by Metropolis Studios.