Late last year, The Black Crowes celebrated a successful tour of outdoor venues with a December concert reunion finale at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, and lke the tour, the concert featured the Tedeschi Trucks band and The London Souls, with Delicate Productions of San Francisco supporting with a Martin Audio MLA loudspeaker system.
According to Smoother Smyth of Delicate, the tour included sheds ranging from 3,000 to 18,000-capacity with Black Crowes FOH Engineer Bob Coke “over the moon about the MLA system.” Setup for the tour included 11 MLA and one MLD (down fill) per side, 8 MLA Compact per side, and 12 ground-stacked MLX subwoofers.
After the initial summer tour, the Black Crowes continued to tour using local promoter-supplied systems in the fall. But because Delicate and Martin Audio MLA had worked out so well for the band during the summer, the Crowes decided to bring both back for the finale.
The challenge for Delicate was to completely rebuild the disassembled system from scratch so that it was identical to the original touring rig and get it up to San Francisco for an 8 am load-in and 2 pm soundcheck with no rehearsal time. As Smyth notes, “it required a maximum effort on our part, but was well worth it because we were getting a lot of comments the next day about how amazing it sounded. The Graham auditorium is known as a very lively room and MLA allowed us to contain and control the audio really well. It turned out to be a slam-dunk.”
Bob Coke, contacted in France where he lives and works, adds: “I was initially skeptical about the MLA system. But during my first experience with the MLA Compact at a circular bull fighting arena in the south of France––an acoustically difficult venue––I was truly amazed by the sound quality, color and coverage. An hour before doors we were told that certain sections of the seated area would be vacant.
“The system tech, Andy Davies, reprogrammed the venue coverage to exclude that section in five minutes. I walked the section and was amazed to hear the difference. It’s what convinced me that the theory behind the MLA system was accurate and reliable. To be able to reprogram where the sound is being sent in a venue without having to physically change how the system is flown is quite remarkable.
“We were touring with the Tedeschi Trucks Band and The London Souls,” Coke continues. ”Each band had their own FOH engineer with different criteria for the system color, but the three of us agreed that the system sounded great. In the mornings when we were loading in the system, we would often hear from the local crews or local sound technicians that the MLA was the best sounding system they had yet heard in their venue. For the size and punch it can’t be beat. It’s also easy to set up and take down.”
Asked about mixing the final concert, he concludes, “The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is a really decent 7000-seater. I mixed the band for their final show loud––louder than the first two acts and the system as well as the venue behaved really well acoustically at that level. I was impressed by the sound of the Tedeschi Trucks band and London Souls, and how sweet the system sounded at their levels.
“There were a lot of people who stopped by after the show to pay tribute to the sound. The best compliment is when people talk about how great the show was––it’s a sign I’ve done my job well and that people have experienced the music in a direct way without having it ‘filtered’ through a bad sounding system or being distracted by room acoustics or a bad mix.”