SSE Audio celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the company by staging a party on Saturday 21 January, with live performances from Stomp and UB40.
In a 17-hour window, SSE managed to turn Fly by Nite’s cavernous 18,000sq.ft rehearsal studio into the ultimate party venue, complete with two stages, two bars, seven food outlets and a raised guest area.
SSE director and party production manager Spencer Beard explained, “The studio was booked out for rehearsals for an arena tour on the Thursday and Friday; we only had access from 1am on the day of the party. Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved who pulled out all the stops, everything was ready to go by 6pm on Saturday.”
The Fly by Nite Rehearsal Studio is just up the road from SSE’s Redditch headquarters making it an obvious location for the party. “SSE has worked with trucking company Fly by Nite for many years,” commented Spencer Beard. “We used to be neighbours in Coventry Road, Birmingham, then they followed us out to Redditch. Their help and support throughout this project has been superb.”
The live performances opened with local duo Faye Smith and Gordon Begard – collectively known as Bear. Sales director, Alex Penn and Wigwam MD, Spencer Beard then presented SSE founders John and Heather Penn with a WEM Audiomaster – the classic five channel mixing console that was the fledgling company’s first mixer in 1976.
John Penn acknowledged in a speech the very many people who have journeyed with SSE over the past 40 years and also the many companies and organisations who have contributed resources to the party.
At the end of John’s speech, a plume of confetti cascaded down from the 60ft high ceiling and a lone sweeper was deployed to clear the debris from the fore-stage. He stomped across the stage with a rhythmic brush and percussive power heralding the arrival of his broom-wielding mates, who together form Stomp. SSE Hire has supplied the audio for Stomp’s West End show for many years, mic-ing up all manner of dustbins and the like.
Another long-term client of SSE is reggae band UB40 who have used SSE for much of the last 35 years. In his introduction, John Penn explained how the purchase of a mixing console in the early 1980s provided the salvation for a cash-strapped and struggling SSE. The rest as they say is history.
UB40 played a full set, including many of their classics to a very appreciative audience, before leaving to catch an early morning ferry to Belgium.
“We were really pleased that UB40 were able to perform this special show for us on the eve of their latest European Tour” says John Penn.
Many industry partners were at the party and many contributed their services to its staging for a full-on arena experience. Spencer Beard, who joined SSE straight from school and is now managing director of Wigwam Acoustics (that joined the Group in 2013), was well pleased with the way the party went:
“It went to plan, looked great, sounded great and was awesome. I’m proud of what we all managed to achieve. A special mention has to go to Rob Priddle who worked tirelessly alongside me in production – his help and support throughout was exceptional.”
John Penn reflected on the evening, “Thanks to everyone that came to our 40th Birthday Party. Your attendance was what made it so memorable. The six hours literally flew past and it was over way too soon. I spent all evening talking but never managed to have a conversation with anyone – and this morning I’m rather croaky!
“Thanks to everyone that worked so hard to turn the ideas into reality and who gave their support so generously to make it look & sound so wonderful. It was really special to share the event with so many friends and colleagues. We’re still on a high after such a fantastic night.”