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Bryan Ferry

Brian Ferry 2

Bryan Ferry has a reputation as a very artistic performer who cares deeply about his music, constantly changing arrangements and songs.

With an outstanding ear for the songs’ musical arrangements, both Bryan’s FOH and monitor mix require constant, active mixing throughout each song at a very detailed level.

Davide

FOH engineer Davide Lombardi has worked with other iconic British singers such as Kate Bush, Ed Sheeran, Gary Barlow, Tom Jones and when the tour finishes, he hits the road with Dido who after 15 years has finally released another album.

This tour has been going for a while but then again, Bryan never really stops,” remarked Davide. “He goes out every year but never for a long time, a maximum of four weeks at one time

The tours utilized an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA system with SB28s subs and a front face of ARCs and 108s, all controlled by Lake and LA network. At the ICC in Sydney the set up was 12 K1s and four K2s on the main hangs with side hangs of 12 K2s, four subs flown, four ARCs per side as outfills, two ARCs per side as infill and 218s as front fills.

The venue here is very steep so we’ve had to fly quite high in order to cover the very top seats,” said Davide. “We spend a lot of time tuning, making sure that there is a good balance between delays and gain structure in order to get the image back to where Bryan is. Also, Bryan is not a powerful singer so the more coverage there is, the better it is to control his vocal.

Out front Davide was mixing on a DiGiCo SD10 saying the way he mixes is pretty simple with little in the way of routing. He doesn’t use plugins and the only external effect he had was a Bricasti M7 reverb, which he loves, and a tc electronic D2 delay unit especially used for the saxophone to recreate an 80s sound. An SPX 2000 is used for effect in just one moment of one song.

It’s really very simple,” added Davide. “Everything is routed into groups going to the matrix and then out of the matrix into the Lake and then out into the LA Network. I get a lot of precision from stage which is why it is simple. Before making changes on the console, we work a lot with the band adjusting levels with them when we can so we don’t change the sound too much. I try to leave it as natural and organic as possible.

Davide’s biggest challenge is getting Bryan’s vocal above everything else as he is a gentle singer and talker, and can sometimes mumble!

As well as Bryan, there are eight people onstage and with his music being very busy, there is not much space left for his vocal to cut through. However Davide says that is something Bryan seeks as he wants to express himself with his music rather than his voice. The result is a lot going on for Davide with a ‘proper’ live mix.

There are constant changes and we can’t rest for one second,” he said. “There are layers and layers happening all the time.” Bryan uses an Audio Technica 6100 microphone, a dynamic mic that has condenser characteristics according to monitor engineer Tom Howat.

It’s an interesting mic although you could potentially get a lot of spill in it so a lot of what we do is containment,” Tom commented. “It’s a good choice though because it’s not a condenser mic but you still get a quality output from it and Bryan really like it.

Modeling amps are used for the guitars so there are no guitar amps onstage to help keep spill under control with Davide saying it sounds better.

Sax mics are from SD Systems, again they are dynamic but have tripod prongs that clip onto the bell of the horn.

TomThey give you a very nice rich sax tone,” said Tom. “We have DPA’s for the violin and the rest is pretty standard although the Shure SM57 on the washboard is a highlight of the show.

Tom mixed monitors on an Allen and Heath dLive, his console of choice but fessed up to having a history with it as he was part of the development team!

It’s a great sounding console, is very powerful and is good for IEMs,” he added. “We did some orchestra shows last year and I completely maxed it out, used the modularity of the system to expand with it which is all very cool.
Everyone was on IEMS Sennheiser 2050s, with Tom having has 16 transmitters and only the drums were hard wired.

Mixing monitors for Bryan is a very parallel equation to Davide – precision, accuracy, coping with what he’s hearing and wanting to hear,” said Tom. “And also like the FOH mix, you’re riding every solo and readjusting all the time. The band basically get my attention during the soundcheck and I’m pretty much pinned on Bryan through the show. It’s mix, mix, mix and without snapshots I’d be lost on this one. The musicians play different instruments so there’s a fair bit of rotation there. Arrangements are everything with Bryan and I have to mix monitors as if I’m mixing out front, you can’t leave it alone for a minute. With the vocal you’re riding that fader up and down, pulling it back every time he’s not singing – so the finger grips that fader all the time.

Tom reveals that he has to watch Bryan closely taking cues from whatever he is looking at, maybe something has to go up or down depending upon the look on his face. Reading his body language is a key part of Tom’s job.

Davide discovered that the ICC room had specific places that sounded quite different and he was interested to see how it changed once the audience were in the house.

The corridor by the FOH has a cancellation about the low end at 40 – 50 Hz so we’ve been measuring that with Smaart,” he said. “You can see when you move the microphone you see a big scoop coming on 50Hz. We’ve tried to fix it but you can’t, it’s a natural thing but hopefully it will be better when the audience are in.

I always make sure that the mix is not exactly perfect at the FOH, walk around the venue a lot during soundcheck to make sure I find a good balance between everywhere. That takes a long time but it’s worth it.

 

The music comes at them at such a complicated level it pays off to keep the technical elements as simple as possible whilst using the power of technology to simplify the process.

Smaart, snapshots ….. all great examples of using technology to enable us to do what we need to do mix wise because that’s where it is all at for Bryan,” added Tom. “It may sound like it’s straightforward but it’s not, you bury the technology so the actual hands-on bit really counts. Its old school but using high tech.

JPJ Audio supplied the gear and crew with Davide and Tom commenting on how well they work together as a team.

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine April 2019. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search their archive www.cxnetwork.com.au

 

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