Madonna unleashed yet another touring extravaganza, the “Sticky & Sweet” tour, a two-hour multimedia blockbuster has no shortage of technology or glitz, with a nod to past chart topping singles while serving up the latest musical treats.
In keeping with the high-tech nature of the production, the tour is one of the first to integrate a pair of DiGiCo SD7 digital flagship consoles at the production’s audio core.
FOH engineer Tim Colvard previously presided over the 2006 “Confessions” mega-tour, and his 20-year resume boasts entries including chart-topping R&B and Rap icons from Eminem to the Beastie Boys to Whitney Houston, R. Kelly and Toni Braxton. He cut his teeth on a DiGiCo D5 in 2003 on tours with 50 Cent/Jay-Z and with Earth Wind & Fire.
For the current production, Colvard shares the FOH helm with Mark Brnich of 8th Day Sound; similarly Matt Napier is at monitor world on a DiGiCo D5T, along with 8th Day’s Demetrius Moore as the monitor tech, and Sean Spuehler, responsible for Madonna’s vocal and FX.
“I’m usually a pioneer when it comes to technology,” Colvard confesses. “I had done some research and heard about the DiGiCo SD7 from Bob Doyle, so it was something to look forward to. I was looking for something outside the Yamaha realm and, from that standpoint, my eyes and ears were open.
“Once it was on the market, I was ready to be a pioneer and adventure into it for this tour. The D5 acted as a pacifier to get me into the SD7 realm and, once I got into that realm, some of the sweeter things about the console were the overall sonic sound and the EQ initially. Now that we’re really into the desk, there are just so many features that make it tremendous and which really can aid an engineer and someone that’s really into the art of mixing.”
Colvard has harnessed the full potential of the SD7’s in every imaginable way on this tour, which encompasses over 100-plus stage inputs—from instruments, a DJ, to vocal mics, to an onstage Pro Tools effects rig and all of his outboard effects.
Each SD7 has two complete digital engines, which are networked and mirrored giving 100 percent digital redundancy. The second SD7 also enjoys that same redundant regime but the clever part is that all four digital engines are networked and mirrored to provide quadruple indemnity for the show.