In step with the welcome return of the British summer, PLASA Show made a triumphant return to the Grand Hall of Olympia London from 3-5 September, proudly spanning a third more floor space with a striking 28% increase in visitors.
Lee House, Operations Director for Ambersphere Solutions, says, “I was struck by a sense of nostalgia and excitement— PLASA Show has made a triumphant return! The hall was bustling with a diverse array of exhibitors and, most importantly, visitors who were eager to engage in meaningful conversations about their technological needs for the present and future. It was a jam-packed, unforgettable three days that left us eagerly anticipating what next year will bring."
Tom Mowat, Hire Account Manager for Encore, concurs: “PLASA Show 2023 was absolutely incredible. It was fantastic to see the whole of the hall used by exhibitors. The attendance along with the quality of conversation is testament to just how important this event is in our calendar.”
Comparable with pre-pandemic years, the demographic was strong. Well over a third were final decision makers, and one in five were business owners or directors. Additional key job roles included technicians and programmers (one in ten), followed closely by sound engineers, lighting designers, technical directors and consultants. Half of attendees work across concert touring, theatre, and live events, with a further 20% hailing from AV, broadcast and corporate sectors. Notably, this year saw a 9% growth in international visitors, with 17 more countries in attendance compared to 2022.
Adam Ironside, Marketing Manager for Canford Audio, says, “PLASA Show was excellent this year. Our team all commented that this is one of the best exhibitions they have ever been to. Incredibly busy, high-quality leads, a great mix of customers, and a lot of fun!”
Visitors feasted on new products, destined for use across the international live sector
PLASA Show’s headline sponsors not only wowed visitors with live demonstrations, complete with circus performers, they utilised the show’s
powerful platform to launch three products: the FORTE Fresnel PC, iFORTE LTX, and FOOTSIE – with the latter two scooping a PLASA Award for Innovation.
Theresa Gibson, for Robe, comments: “The vibrant atmosphere of PLASA Show delivered three exhilarating days of high calibre visitors from a wide cross section of the industry. We were proud to return as headline sponsor and continue our long-standing relationship with PLASA, which saw an increase in visitors from the UK and Europe, whilst also attracting customers and distributors from as far afield as South America and Southeast Asia. PLASA Show always delivers lots of magic, excitement and energy with the best of our industry all under one roof and 2023 was no exception!”
More lighting goodness came from Ayrton who officially launched their new Argo 6 fixture at the show; and Claypaky revealed their Midi-B FX to the world and brought Skylos along for its first PLASA Show outing. The show saw several UK debuts too, including Elation’s Proteus Radius, Odeon, and Hybrid MAX; CAST’s BlackTrax One; and Avolites’ T3. Visitors also had the chance to try out the new NXL console and ONYX software courtesy of Obsidian Control Systems.
Andrew McKinlay, Marketing and Customer Service Director for Avolites Ltd, says, “PLASA Show 2023 will go down in Avolites history for many reasons. Not least for the fact it was our first PLASA Show as a Robe company. The vibe this year was the best it’s been since 2019, the stand was busy nearly all the time, and more meaningful discussions were had than expected. Roll on 2024.”
EM Acoustics unveiled their ultra-compact R5, L-Acoustics showcased their L Series, and OutBoard demonstrated new enhancements to their TiMax2 SoundHub. Other notable debuts came courtesy of Glensound with their Charles Interpreter Unit and Innovate Audio’s panLab Console.
Visitors were also keen to check out Harlequin’s Liberty Switch, Dirty Rigger’s Technician’s Backpack, as well as international premiers from Total Solutions’ TML range. New exhibitors presented new products too, including the Microphone Disinfector from Li.LAC and DARKMAT from Holotronica.
Stuart Warren-Hill, Managing Director, Holotronica, says, “This was the first time we had a stand at PLASA Show. I have to say it was a great experience and we got some great reactions and feedback from some very prestigious industry leaders in their field. I feel our company has had a well needed boost by the experience and expect to get future work from these great new leads.” In fact, this year’s show welcomed several new brands, who anticipate big business rewards.
Andrew Bishop, Founder of Reclaim Audio Ltd and GreenWaves, says, “We went to PLASA Show to gauge our sector's appetite for a sustainable approach to sound. Inquisitive visitors were intrigued with the solar- powered amplifier and speakers made from repurposed materials. PLASA Show 2023 was the busiest in living memory and set the scene for increased sustainability!”
Ollie Nye, Director of Ripple Asset Management, adds: “All three days were filled with good conversations with friendly people. We were in the ‘PLASA Introduces’ area, and by the end of the show, we had a little community going between our stands! I've always felt PLASA Show is good for getting in touch with the pulse of the industry, but exhibiting takes that to a whole new level.” The packed programme featured several standing-room-only sessions.
Lighting designer Tim Routledge delivered two presentations on Eurovision 2023
both of which were extraordinarily popular, with an endless supply of questions from the audience. Tim remarked: “It was a real thrill to see the huge interest in what we had created at Eurovision, and great to see PLASA attracting such a huge crowd”. Visitors also flocked to presentations on the Olympics with Durham Marenghi, and the Coronation Concert with NorthHouse Creative and SKYMAGIC.
Innovative artistry was firmly in the spotlight, with sessions on drones with Electric Airshows, crafting narratives with Women in Lighting; advanced video technologies with Frame:work; and the Frameless gallery with Innovate Audio, EM Acoustics and Autograph Sound. And AV was high on the agenda, with sessions from ClearCom, Avixa, Canford Audio and Rentman.
Joost Maris, AV Operations specialist for Rentman, says, “We had a great time unpacking a hot topic within the industry - RFID and what this means for the AV industry. As a result of the seminar, we were able to expand on these discussions with eager professionals.”
Many prominent industry issues were discussed at the show, including Unusual Rigging on circular economy in production; the ALPD on sustainability; Women in Live Music on parenthood; PLASA on Brexit; author and podcaster Mark Stevenson on the future; and Backup Tech on neurodiversity.
Jessica Allan, Charity Coordinator for Backup Tech, says: “This year’s show had a wonderful vibe of camaraderie and connection. Thank you PLASA for giving us a platform to talk about these important topics, whereby we can improve as an industry in support of our colleagues.”
The show was brimming with free-to-attend training sessions and demonstrations
Audinate ran fully booked certified training sessions in Dante AV Level 1, 2 and 3. Elsewhere ChamSys ran back-to-back hands-on sessions, allowing attendees to get to grips with their MagicQ and QuickQ software and consoles. And following their PLASA Innovation Award win last year, Minuit Une showcased their dazzling IVL Photon luminaire.
James Harrison, Product & Support Manager for ChamSys, says “Once again our training space at PLASA Show saw great attendance from both new and existing users coming to see the latest and greatest software features and to get hands on with ChamSys consoles! See you in 2024!”
On the audio front, visitors were spoiled for choice with all-day demonstrations: KV2 Audio showcased several of their products featured across the West End, including their VHD 2.0 and ESR 106; RCF debuted the NXW44A/SUB9004A and the latest version of their RdNet software; and JBL impressed with the UK debuts of their VTX A6 and SRX 900
Matthew Watt, Head of Application Engineering for Sound Technology, says, “This year’s show went really well for us in the JBL demo room. We all commented on how much busier it was this year and went away with lots of follow up and project leads.”
Vintage tech from legendary bands and theatre shows wowed visitors throughout the show
This year’s show saw the return of the impressive collection from CH Vintage Audio, who joined forces with Classic Gear Live, in association with LSi magazine. Not only were the steady stream of visitors able to see and hear the gear used by legendary artists such as Pink Floyd, the
Beatles, David Bowie, the Who, and the Grateful Dead, they saw pioneering lighting fixtures and consoles from classic West End shows. Moreover, visitors had the opportunity to meet the experts behind the products, with special guests recounting stories and detailing their preservation efforts.
Rob Halliday, host of Classic Gear Live, says, “I had the best time on the Classic Gear stand, where we showed lighting and sound history from the 1950s to the 1980s and were lucky enough to have the people who made or first used those products speak to anyone who was interested - which seemed to be a lot of people!” Chris Hewitt of CH Vintage Audio, adds, “PLASA Show 2023 saw our stand busy every day with visits from younger members of the industry to some major industry figures.”
The year’s most impressive tech was celebrated during the PLASA Awards for Innovation.
In association with LSi magazine, and sponsored by Yutree and Medialease, this year’s PLASA Awards for Innovation saw 40 entries, many of which could be seen up close on the Innovation Gallery. Eight lucky nominees scooped a coveted award, with Brompton Technology winning Gold for their highly anticipated Tessera G1, hailed as a game-changer for virtual productions, TV and film.
Richard Mead, CEO of Brompton Technology, says, “We launched Brompton Technology at PLASA Show in 2012. So, the PLASA show is very much our home event. We are all delighted to receive this honour for the G1, which is going to be a platform for exciting innovation for years to come.”
The highlight of the awards ceremony was presenting the respected Gottelier Award to Howard Eaton, who commented: “It is quite something to be nominated for this award and very special indeed to be added to the list of friends and colleagues who have won it. Thank you to PLASA and LSi and special thanks to my friends and colleagues whose continued hard work, dedication and support make it possible to develop and build the things that help deliver the shows we work on.”
Community was at the core of PLASA Show with several networking events.
The heart of the show was the #WeMakeEvents afterparty, which saw exhibitors and visitors alike come together to enjoy complimentary refreshments, with a party soundtrack courtesy of Martin Audio and The
Bug Club. Elsewhere, Women in Lighting hosted a networking event in partnership with Ambersphere and Ayrton to socialise and swap stories. And Women in Live Music teamed up with Solotech and Production Futures for a lively networking session focused on diversity.
James King, Marketing Director for Martin Audio, says, “It was our first time at the PLASA Show in a number of years and it was great to be back. To see the growth of the show is important and attendance was strong. Being able to showcase our new THS loudspeaker in collaboration with The Bug Club was an enjoyable opportunity and the visitors were enthusiastic in their response.”
With all the high praise, PLASA Show 2023 mirrored the upward trajectory of the live sector.
Stephen Button, UK and Nordic Trade Marketing Manager for Pro Audio for Sennheiser Professional Audio & Neumann, says, “I thought it would be hard to top, but 2023 was even better than the 2022 PLASA Show for us. We had a great response from the many visitors who came by the stand. Lots of potential customers and partners which we look forward to continuing to build relationships with.”
Chris Hale, Product Specialist for Chauvet Professional, adds: “PLASA Show felt a little different this time around in a good way. Every day was steady in the morning and busy from midday onwards. Maybe it was the sunshine, but it felt to me that PLASA Show is starting to get its buzz back again.”
Sophie Atkinson, PLASA Head of Events, concludes: “We are humbled by the huge amount of praise for this year’s show – it really does feel like our industry is gaining the strength we lost during the pandemic. Many of the stands were impressive, reflecting the ingenuity and ambition that our industry is known for. And our guest speakers really captured the sentiment of what industry professionals are thinking and feeling. And even though business was, of course, high on the agenda, it was paired with a sense of increased community – hopefully helping our industry become more accessible to all. Work is already underway for PLASA Focus Leeds from 14-15 May, and we’ll return to London next year from 1-3 September – we look forward to seeing you then!”