Last night’s MTV EMAs saw U2 take home the Global Icon award, one night after the band gave a concert on one of central London’s busiest spots, the Trafalgar Square, Nov. 11.

Last night’s MTV EMAs saw U2 take home the Global Icon award, one night after the band gave a concert on one of central London’s busiest spots, the Trafalgar Square, Nov. 11.


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Photo: Vianney Le Caer / Invision / AP

U2 Trafalgar Square - U2 performs in Trafalgar Square ahead of the MTV Europe Music Awards Nov. 11.

Pollstar spoke to Chris Vaughan, who produced some of the biggest tours in recent history, including Beyoncé’s 2016 Formation world tour and Take That’s 2011 Progress Live Europe tour. His company VHE was hired by MTV to deliver the event and technical production for U2’s Trafalgar Square concert.

Vaughan said the PA in particular had to overcome some of Trafalgar Square’s specific challenges.

“Your surroundings are very high profile and important neighbors,” said Vaughan, referring to Canada House to the left, the National Gallery immediately front of house, and St. Marti-in-the-Fields church on the northeast corner, which had a classical concert scheduled at exactly the same time as U2 was on stage.

“The challenges for audio were to make sure that we were able to deliver great sound on the square, while not upsetting the neighbors. That was delivered very well by Skan, who were the PA contractor for the job. They are a company that I use on most of my tours.”

Vaughan used the d&b J-Series PA system with its new array processing software, “which allows you to really point the sound to where you need it to go, rather than just blanket covering the area. This was absolutely critical in making sure that we adhered to the licensing conditions, which restricted us to 79dB on the perimeter of the site.

“We would really like to thank [U2 sound engineer] Joe O’Herlihy. He had to work with us in mixing probably lower than he would liked to have done. But collaboration between him, our noise consultants Vanguardia and Skan, they really achieved what was necessary.”

Lighting was done by independent lighting company Neg-Earth, whose clients include the Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses and Take That, and legendary lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe, who worked alongside U2’s Willie Williams – and David Guetta’s Jonathan “Leggy” Armstrong, as the French DJ sensation played Trafalgar Square that same night.

“Organizing and coordinating some 20 trucks to come onto one of the busiest squares in one of the busiest cities over the course of a few days is quite a challenge,” said Vaughan, who had to interrupt loadout for eight hours on Sunday because of the Remembrance Day, Nov. 11.

He specifically praised the two acts, “who worked with us in a very happy, collaborative way. [U2 production manager] Jake Berry, we know each other very well. It was great to see all of that team again.”

U2 agent John Giddings told Pollstar that “it was a magic moment to see the band perform at one of the world’s iconic locations. The sound and production were incredible. And we would like to thank the mayor of London [Sadiq Khan] for helping to make it happen.”

Last but not least, Vaughan lauded set designer Julio Himende, who also designed the main awards show a day later at The SSE Arena, Wembley, where Shawn Mendes was the night’s big winner.  

The Canadian singer took home four trophies – Biggest Fans, Best Song (“There’s Nothing Holding Me Back”), Best Artist and Best Canadian Act. Eminem was crowned best hip-hop artist, while fellow nominee Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Best Video prize for “Humble” (full winners’ list below).

Live performances came in the from of “Dirty Sexy Money” by David Guetta – crowned Best Electronic artists – Charli XCX & French Montana. The latter also performed “Unforgettable” with Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee.  

Camila Cabello, who accepted the Best Pop award, sang her hit “Havana,” Kesha was on stage with “Learn To Let Go,” and The Killers gave a rendition of “The Man.”


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Photo: Joel Ryan / Invision / AP

Rita Ora MTV EMAs - MTV EMAs host Rita Ora dons one of 13 different costumes on the night during the MTV European Music Awards Nov. 12 in London

Travis Scott flew through The SEE Arena on a Falcon while auto-tuning “Butterfly Effect,” former One Direction member Liam Payne sang “Strip That Down,” local hero Stormzy performed “Big For Your Boots” and Beyoncé was replaced by Skylar Grey for a live rendition of Eminem’s latest single “Walk On Water.”

Medleys came from Clean Bandit, who brought Zara Larsson, Julia Michaels and Anne-Marie on stage for “Symphony,” “I Miss You,” and “Rockabye,” respectively. Demi Lovato did “Sorry Not Sorry” and “Tell Me You Love Me,” and the evening’s host, Rita Ora, performed “Your Song/Anywhere.”

Of course, the night’s big winner, Shawn Mendes, took the stage as well, giving a heartfelt performance of “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” which earned him the Best Song trophy.

Complete list of winners:

Best UK & Ireland Act

Louis Tomlinson

Best Song

Shawn Mendes - There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back

Best Artist

Shawn Mendes

Best Look

ZAYN

Best new

Dua Lipa

Best Pop

Camila Cabello

Best Video

Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE.

Best Live

Ed Sheeran

Best Electronic

David Guetta

Best Rock

Coldplay

Best Hip Hop

Eminem

Best Alternative

Thirty Seconds To Mars

Biggest Fans

Shawn Mendes

Best Push

Hailee Steinfeld

Best World Stage

The Chainsmokers – Live from Isle of MTV Malta 2017

Best U.S. Act

Fifth Harmony

Best Canadian Act

Shawn Mendes

Worldwide Act Winners

Lil' Kleine - The Netherlands

C. Tangana – Spain

BABYMETAL – Japan

ALMA – Finland

DaVido – Nigeria

Stormzy - UK & Ireland

Lali - Argentina