For Scottish alt rockers Primal Scream’s latest tour, space for the crew to carry equipment was at a premium. Front of house engineer Michael Brennan was faced with having to fit his kit into a small trailer that would be towed behind the tour bus as it worked its way across Europe and on to Japan for a flying visit before returning to the UK for the tour’s final dates.
Ordinarily the lack of space would have meant going on tour without a mixing console. However, Brennan, who has worked on Avid mixing systems for the past eight years, approached the company about using an alternative solution – specifically its new compact S3L mixing system.
“I wanted to use the S3L on this Primal Scream tour for several reasons,” says Brennan. “I knew that its sound quality is second to none and because of the compact size of the board and the stage-boxes, I would be able to fit it into the trailer. Additionally, the show file I had already created on my VENUE was compatible with it, so I was confident the transition would be simple.”
The new console also made its Japan debut on the tour, having been supplied locally by Clair Global Japan. “It’s perfect for a small club tour and because of the S3L’s modularity and networked Ethernet AVB architecture, the setup time is so quick, plus it’s really easy to scale up if you need to,” explains Brennan. “I can set up a 64-channel desk, 48 lines of stage-box and a 128-channel, 75-meter Cat-5e multi in around 10 minutes. If you add in its space saving size, it’s just awesome. I couldn’t have taken a board on tour if it wasn’t so small and modular. I’ve had to carry this one in a transit van, splitter, truck, car and plane, and it’s been really easy to move around.”
He adds, “It’s also proving really popular in the venues because it has such a small footprint that promoters can sell more seats, which they obviously love.”
Because Brennan regularly uses Avid’s Virtual Soundcheck feature, he always dials in the show before he goes on tour. “When the band comes in for rehearsals, I record the set onto Pro Tools directly from the board, and then I’m able to sit down with the artist at FOH, locate any point in the set and allow the artist to hear my mix. The scene function has been a major breakthrough and is very powerful, as it gives the artist a sense of involvement and confidence as they’re able to really know how they sound. It’s a very creative tool that allows me and the band to realize and achieve the sound we both want.”
Brennan’s a long-time Avid user, having first worked with a D-Show on a Super Furry Animals tour in 2005. When he then got his hands on an Avid Mix Rack System he was so impressed he bought one of his own, which has accompanied him on every tour he’s been involved with since. He has also mixed, produced and recorded many albums over the past 15 years, always using Pro Tools, for artists including Snow Patrol, Primal Scream, Mogwai and Super Furry Animals.
On Primal Scream’s 2010 Screamadelica tour, Brennan recorded every show on Pro Tools, and was then able to mix a live DVD in stereo and 5.1 formats. He says, “The compatibility of Pro Tools with the Avid Profile surface made this a simple process, and I was even able to mix it on the Profile surface as I already had the song mix dialed in.”