Florence and the Machine’s current European dates to promote her Ceremonials album were recently upsized for a three-night run at London’s Alexandra Palace, with the band joined by a 12-piece choir and 12-piece string section. A new Midas PRO2 live audio system supplemented monitor world for these gigs, joining the stalwart XL8 at FOH. Both consoles were provided by Britannia Row Productions.
Engineer Mike Gibbard was using the PRO2 to provide monitor mixes for the choir and string section, and to send stem feeds to the band’s monitor and FOH desks.
“The PRO2’s a natural choice for this really,” says Gibbard. “I take a band mix from the monitor desk, a dry vocal mix of Florence and a click, which I then send to the choir and string section. I have nine hardwired mixes for the choir, and I’ve broken up the string section into cello mix, violin mix and viola mix and we’re using Britannia Row’s customised headphone system to distribute that to each of them.
“I send left and right stem feeds to the band monitor desk and FOH. It frees up those engineers from having to deal with the choir and string section, as it’s a lot of extra inputs to have to deal with.
“I love the PRO2 – MIDAS digital is the way forward!” sums up Gibbard. “You put a microphone into it, turn the gain up, high pass it and it sounds great straight out of the box; you don’t have to work hard at creating the sound.”
Adds Laughton, who mixed Florence’s previous gigs on a PRO6, “We’ve got the budget now to use good old MIDAS everywhere in the world. I’d got so used to the PRO6, so it was amazing to be back on the XL8 and have even more room. Josh Lloyd from Britannia Row, who is more than my right hand man, has Area B to himself, which means he can get into any channel he wants while I’m mixing at the other end. It’s especially good as we have two drum kits, so while the two drummers are playing together, which is a massive thing, I can be mixing that while Josh is taking care of Florence’s vocal.”
Laughton also appreciates the convenience of the PRO2 on stage. “Instead of having 96 channels of choir and strings, I’ve only got 58, ready mixed!” he enthuses. “I can compress it and EQ it without having to change the layout of my desk.”
Every show is being recorded from the XL8 onto the Klark Teknik DN9696 high definition audio recorder. “It’s just eight cables in and out, and it all comes back through the desk, so you can do a virtual sound check,” says Laughton. “This way of working is becoming a must when using a digital desk. The recorded sound is great; we played it back to the band at rehearsals and it gave them so much more confidence to hear what they sounded like, playing live.”