Classic rock radio staples Deep Purple and Alice Cooper are co-hosting a 20-city tour this summer in amphitheaters across North America, with support from blues-rock veterans The Edgar Winter Band.
Thunder Audio owner Tony Villarreal traveled to three of the shows, and was thrilled to be a part of this tour. “It’s such a great pleasure to see classic acts selling out amphitheaters,” he says, “especially when they still sound all the way around fantastic.” Villarreal credits his team’s extensive touring experience and professionalism as being a key factor in making this major production run smoothly.
Ethan Thompson, audio tech for Thunder Audio, spearheads each show’s set up. “The L-Acoustics system is so efficient to fly that we’ve been able to save an hour each day on our in and reduce the time on the out. The Network to control our amplifiers is always solid, and the architecture and sonic quality of the system speaks for itself.” He adds that the L-Acoustics K1s are perfect for this kind of shed run, because of the long throw design – the sound is very even, front-to-back, and every seat in the house is a great seat.
Deep Purple front of house engineer Tobi Hoff has been with Deep Purple in Europe since 2002, and worldwide since 2012. “Deep Purple is unique because they’re very loud onstage – they use no in-ear monitors. It is all amps and speakers – just as they have for the past 49 years,” says Hoff. “We’ve had a few venues with very strict noise restrictions, and it’s hard to comply, because the musicians are so used to the volume.”
In addition, the show is all-live, and sometimes the musicians start jamming, so “it’s not a show that you can do a lot of scene programming for.” This is his first time working with Thunder Audio, and he praises the crew as “very professional through these long days of setting up and line checking the three bands.”
Hoff is also one of L-Acoustics’ European freelance consultants, and says that the system is “definitely my #1 choice for Deep Purple,” especially because the K1 and K1-SB sub combo goes down to 30Hz. “For a very loud band, the system projects exceptionally well,” he says.
Michael Charbonneau is Thunder’s system engineer for the tour, and says that he found the gear and crew to be a great fit. “Working with Tony and Thunder Audio always guarantees that I’ll have the tools that I need to make my job easier,” he says. As for the L-Acoustics system, “it flies easy and sounds great in the venues we’re playing in, and with Soundvision, you can make it perfect.”
Ron Hurd, monitor engineer for Alice Cooper, has been with Alice for four years. “I’ve worked with Thunder Audio since 2000, and we have a great relationship,” he says. Hurd assists in flying the L-Acoustics system every day, and loves it because it “pins up nicely with no hand-pinching… Stagehands who haven’t worked with the system before can pick it up very quickly.”
Rob Hodgkinson, monitor engineer for Deep Purple, has been touring with the band for 22 years. Hodgkinson calls L-Acoustics “head and shoulders above any manufacturer that I’ve worked with.” Since Deep Purple has no in-ears or wedges, the L-Acoustics Kara side fills with SB28s are like “big headphones. Keeps it dead simple,” he laughs.
“It’s been brilliant working with Thunder Audio,” says Hodgkinson. “They couldn’t be better people, and the tour has gone so smoothly, considering how much gear we have.” He adds that “everyone is communicating very, very well – we’re operating like one team vs three separate teams, which is so rare for a production this size.”