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Enveloping The Audience: The Audio Approach For Adele In Concert

“Adele’s vocals are amazing. I want the audience to forget who they are for a moment and be able to project themselves solely onto what’s occurring onstage." - Da...

By Greg DeTogne June 22, 2011

Adele at her Sennheiser SKM wireless microphone. (Photos by Jeff Mackay)

For the loyal fans of Adele, the time has come for the pop chanteuse’s name to be added to a pantheon of British soul divas like Amy Winehouse, Sade, Annie Lennox, and Dusty Springfield.

Currently crisscrossing North America in support of her sophomore album 21, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins indeed deserves such a distinction, based upon the sheer power of her own voice and honors such as two 2009 Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her song “Chasing Pavements.” 

Adele’s front-of-house engineer Dave McDonald knows a thing or two about chasing along on pavements himself, currently catching his sleep to the sound of steel radials humming on the asphalt while journeying to venues like Philadelphia’s Electric Factory, NYC’s Beacon Theatre, the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, Chicago’s Riviera, and the venerable Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, where the North American leg concludes in late June and then moves to the U.K.

The veteran Brit mix engineer is joined by monitor engineer Joe Campbell, as well as tour manager David “Zop” Yard, production manager Pat Baker, and stage techs Adam Newman and Adam Carr.

Adele’s front of house engineer Dave McDonald showcasing his Allen & Heath iLive-112 prior to a recent show in Toronto. (click to enlarge)

Intentionally small by design to offer her hardcore fans a truly intimate experience, the tour isn’t traveling with “racks and stacks,” instead opting to utilize a different rented house system at each stop. “In situations like this you can come across some real crones of audio,” McDonald observes with an appropriate dose of dry English inflection, downplaying any hint of concern about his reliance upon PA du jour. “It keeps you sharp every night. You have to be on your toes always, there’s absolutely no room for complacency.”

Traveling Light
Complacency is one thing, and confidence is quite another, and it’s indeed the latter for McDonald as he approaches his mix position at each show carrying nothing more than his Allen & Heath iLive-112 work surface. It’s connected to the house rig via a Cat 5 connector, and the mix is on.

A self-declared “Midas man” for many years, and also richly steeped in the ways of the PM5D, McDonald first put his hands on an iLive-112 a couple years back while wrangling house sound for the French electronic music duo Air and the U.K.’s Florence and the Machine.

Adele enveloping the audience on the current 21 tour.

“I walked away thinking to myself that those were the best effects I’d ever heard on a board,” McDonald says, recalling his first experiences with the iLive-112. “The work surface itself is about half the size of a PM5D, and a quarter of the weight probably.

“In these days when everyone owns their own board, yours is going to be the smallest, and you can easily just flip it out of its own case, connect to the snake, and get to work. You can even put it on a keyboard stand. When you’re done, you just fold it up, carry it away under your arm, and everyone loves you.”

A 64-input by 32-output system, the digital iLive-112 is outfitted with 28 faders in three banks with four layers offering 112 control strips.


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About Greg

Greg DeTogne
Greg DeTogne

Gregory is a writer and editor who has served the pro audio industry for the past 32 years.

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