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The Essentials: Live Sound Reinforcement For The Recent U.S. Tour By Bryan Ferry

“Going into the show virtually every night and getting a good result whatever the PA, you can’t ask for much better on your return visit, can you now?”- Nick Warr...

By Greg DeTogne November 14, 2011

Bryan Ferry at the Oakland stop on his recent U.S. tour singing with his Audio-Technica AT4054 condenser mic. (All photos by Steve Jennings)

Hopscotching from New York, D.C., and Miami Beach to Oakland, Brian Ferry returned to the U.S. for the first time since 2002 this fall, bringing with him the stylized panache he’s cultivated for some 40 years now plus a hard-rocking cast of 12, including guitarist Oliver Thompson, sax player Jorja Chalmers, and stalwart drummer Paul Thompson, who has underscored Ferry’s efforts since his early days as frontman with Roxy Music.

With its sinuous guitar solos tightened, Thompson’s rhythmic precision undiminished, and all of the glam, gleam, and polish you’d expect from a show featuring old Roxy Music favorites up to songs from Ferry’s 2010 album, Olympia, the U.S. tour called upon a lean and trim inventory from Cleveland, Ohio-based Eighth Day Sound.

At front of house, live sound veteran Nick Warren moved faders about, while Stephen May directed monitor activities onstage. Gary Sylvester served as a buffer between the pair as PA tech, helping to sort out up to 56-plus channels found onstage on some nights.

Venues for the tour, by Warren’s description, were an “odd mix,” with a lot of theatres, a shed, and even a casino among the stops. In keeping with the lean and trim nature of the production, PA du jour was the order of the day in all cases, with the crew carrying as little as possible.

“I’d never been in most of these rooms,” Warren confesses, “as the last time I was in the U.S. was 1997, when I was working with The Prodigy on Lollapalooza. Overall, I have to admit that I was impressed, as we had good results with whatever PA we were using. Regardless if I was standing in front of a (L-Acoustics) V-DOSC, ( JBL) VerTec, or Meyer Sound rig, there was a consistency to the line arrays that allowed us to get it pretty much right straight off the mark. I never found myself having to do hours of EQ-ing like we did years ago, and that was nice.”

A look at the stage set for a performance by Ferry and his band on the recent U.S. tour. (click to enlarge)

Just like a 21st century live sound counterpart to Alexis de Toqueville, Warren was continually fascinated with America throughout the Bryan Ferry tour.

“There were many things I noticed in the U.S. that we simply don’t do in the U.K.,” he relates. “It seems as if wherever we went, everyone was running their line arrays all the way down into the low-end. There was always this huge, low-end sub thing coming right off the column. Well, I like subs tight on the floor, not up in the air. The latter makes it all hard to control in my estimation. But everyone is different, and it’s always interesting to see how others approach the task. That’s part of what keeps this interesting.”

The Avid VENUE D-Show desk preferred by Nick Warren at front of house. (click to enlarge)

Throwing Faders
Onstage, 18 of Eighth Day Sound’s L-Acoustics wedges were deployed along with Sennheiser G2 in-ear monitoring systems coupled with ear buds including a collection of Westone dual-driver UM2s and some custom molds.

Working from a Yamaha PM5D, monitor engineer May relied upon scenes created for each song to bring night-after-night consistency to his sound.


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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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