British space-rockers Hawkwind celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, releasing its 32nd album and embarking on a tour that culminated in a sold-out show at London’s Royal Albert Hall in November, supported by an Allen & Heath dLive mixing system.
With special guests including Eric Clapton and Motörhead’s Phil Campbell joining the band on stage along the way, the tour saw long-time Hawkwind front of house engineer Rik Elliss behind the dLive surface. “I’ve been an Allen & Heath fan for many years and the dLive is my go-to system these days, both for my own engineering duties and for my rental company Audioworx,” explains Elliss. “For this tour I’ve been using the S5000 surface with a DM64 MixRack at front of house. The MixRack is also fitted with a Dante card, which is used for recording several of the shows.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hawkwind’s dense, layered sound provides some challenges when translating to a live setting, but Elliss points to key dLive attributes that help the process. “I’ve got 11 channels of keys which all need to be heard, five channels of screaming guitars, a pretty distorted bass guitar, 11 channels of drums and four vocals to deal with,” he says. “And trying to get the vocals to sit on top of this very mid-range heavy music is a challenge. But the dLive is great at keeping sounds separate and distinct and that separation really helps with adding clarity to the mix, which is something that’s incredibly important, particularly in a venue as iconic as the Royal Albert Hall.”
“The other key aspect of the dLive that I rely on heavily with Hawkwind is the onboard effects. Tap delay is integral to my mix and I use the vocal and snare plate presets to recreate the sound of the records. The compressors – particularly the 16T on drums and Opto compressor on keys – are also invaluable both for getting a sound and controlling the mix,” Elliss continues. “When an audience is as engaged as Hawkwind’s and they really know the records inside out, it’s very important to create a live experience for them, rather than a generic mix. And dLive is the perfect choice for that – it’s a really creative tool.”