Brit Floyd, billed as “the World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Show,” returned to the road this summer following a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic with a string of U.S. dates beginning at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado using a Solid State Logic L200 digital console at front of house.
“It’s the best console I’ve ever heard; there’s no two ways about it,” says Gareth Darlington, the band’s long-time sound designer and FOH engineer. “It has a big, fat, wide, pleasant sound with lots of separation.” Darlington has been with the band full time since 2011 but started his live sound career in 1998 when he joined his brother, Damian, Brit Floyd’s musical director, guitarist and vocalist, on the road with a previous Pink Floyd tribute band.
“I got the L200 because I wanted more faders. I’m a musician, and mixing is like playing an instrument,” adds Darlington, who also performs with Damian, their sister, Johanna, and others in a side project, Acoustic Unlimited. “I’m not afraid to use a lot of EQ and shape everything, so I want to get my hands on everything. It’s very organic.”
Darlington familiarized himself with the Live console’s operation prior to its delivery by first downloading the SOLSA (SSL On/Off Line Setup Application) software to his computer: “I learned how to use it intuitively via the software. Then I spent a week at Parr Street Studios [in Liverpool] prepping the show with studio monitors, so I could really hear what it was doing. I’ve never worked on a console with that much flexibility. That’s the beauty of the console; you can set it up exactly as you want it starting from a clean slate. I quickly built a show that I was happy with and I haven’t changed it much since.”
He reports that he uses a lot of scenes on Brit Floyd’s show. “The L200 is the first console I’ve worked on where you can automate everything, including EQ and compression, scene by scene, with fade times and make the transitions absolutely seamless. That was a huge gamechanger for me,” he says.
Darlington recalls that Chas Cole, of UK-based CMP Entertainment, who produces and promotes Brit Floyd’s shows worldwide, approached him about adding a front-of-house console to the organization’s production equipment inventory in 2019. Brit Floyd faithfully recreates Pink Floyd’s 1994 final tour, complete with a multi-million-dollar light show, circular screen, lasers and inflatables, using the company’s own equipment. “He asked me to do some homework and recommend something that I’d be comfortable using,” he says. “I gravitated towards the SSL Live through a lot of recommendations and the company’s reputation.”
Darlington has configured the L200 to run 80 channels with 64 inputs from a pair of SSL Dante AoIP SB 32.24 SuperAnalogue stage boxes — all live, no backing tracks. “A lot of the reverbs and effects come back on stems, but some come back on channels. I have one tile of the console that is mainly VCAs and outputs. If you’ve got the show dialed in, you should be able to more or less just push the groups. I love the stems. Our drummer’s very dynamic and during the show I subtly balance all the drums, constantly. So a lot of my subgrouping is done with stems: drumkit into a stem into a bus,” he says. “It’s very easy to manage.”