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Snow Patrol Reimagining Its Greatest Hits In The Live Realm With SSL L550 Console

"I don't do anything with the L550 other than what's on board. Being an analog person, I still refer to them as groups, but the SSL Stems work great." - Snow Patrol FOH engineer Mark West
Snow Patrol's FOH engineer Matt West delivering live mixes on the SSL Live. L5500 on the latest tour. (Credit: Bradley Quinn)

Northern Irish-Scottish rock band Snow Patrol recently embarked on its latest tour in support of a new album, Reworked, with front of house engineer Matt West providing his live mixes on a Live. L550 digital console from Solid State Logic (SSL).

The band formed in 1994 and rose to fame with the album “Final Straw,” certified five-times platinum and eventually selling more three million copies worldwide. The next album, “Eyes Open,” included the hit song Chasing Cars, said to be one of the most widely played song of the 21st century on UK radio.

“Reworked,” Snow Patrol’s eighth studio album, was released late last year to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary, and includes re-imagined versions of old songs, three new tracks, and a tour that West joined as FOH last year. “It’s a 14-piece band and a very open, live stage; the band has reworked songs to a certain extent, so it’s a new take, with new instruments on already fantastic songs,” he explains. “Everyone’s got a vocal mic, and the guys are all on in-ears, as we’re keeping things as quiet as possible on stage.”

“I knew if SSL was going to put out a live range of consoles, they would capture the old-school analog vibe; once upon a time, you’d do everything you could just to save up to buy one preamp and record everything through it,” he continues. “So I looked at what SSL were doing, saw that the L550 had a big screen and big buttons, and being a big-fingered person, little buttons are ineffective for me, so it looked very interesting straight away.

“I see lots of people using plugins and bringing all these external things to add to supplement digital desks, but I don’t do anything with the L550 other than what’s on board. Being an analog person, I still refer to them as groups, but the SSL Stems work great; I’ll always pair up my kick drums, then compress the group just to get some nice closeness; and I’m also using Stems for the strings, the brass, and the acoustic guitars, as there are a lot of them – I simply go in and slap the SSL Buss Compressor across the stereo – it does everything I need it to do and keeps everyone gelled together. There are so many backing vocals on this tour that I’ve separated all of those out too, letting [lead singer] Gary [Lightbody] exist on his own, so I’ve pulled the backing vocals into one Stem, which I’ve found has opened up the mix quite a lot.”

“I’ve really got to be able to get in there and nail down some frequencies to be able to try and get the level before they’re going to feedback,” he adds. “You can obviously only turn things up so loud to get strings dynamic enough to sit above a decent level band, so you need to be able to get into your EQs and look really closely – and I can hear what I’m doing without any issues whatsoever.”

West is using the L550 alongside the SSL ML 32.32 analog stage box. “That’s a great piece of kit; we’re using two for the existing setup of the band,” he concludes. “It’s a splitter as well, which is great; we use the MADI out of that to send people the full console breakdown when they need it.”

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