L-Acoustics Gives Rock Paper Scissors Tour A Hand
Firehouse Productions carries full K1/K2/Kara rig on Peter Gabriel and Sting’s co-headlined North American trek
RED HOOK, New York - August 2016 -- Peter Gabriel and Sting recently took their Rock Paper Scissors double bill on the road, visiting 20 cities across the United States and Canada. The self-described “karaoke night” of greatest hits featured the pair performing their own songs and covering each other’s songs in addition to guesting with each other’s bands, with as many as 14 musicians on stage at once.
The tour carried a 270-degree PA system comprising L-Acoustics K1 and K2 modules with K1-SB and SB28 subwoofers, as well as Kara and various ARCS speakers, all powered by a total of 60 LA8 amplified controllers, provided by Firehouse Productions.
“Our main configuration has been 12 K1s and six to eight K2s on each main hang, then each side hang has been 16 K2s,” says Firehouse System Tech Jamie Pollock. “We’ve been selling up to 270 degrees of seating, so we also have a rear hang of 14 Kara per side. For ground fill we use two ARCS per side as out fills to cover the corners and eight Karas set up in pairs across the front of the stage as a lip fill system. Low frequency reinforcement consists of eight K1-SBs flown behind each main to give more control of directivity along with 18 SB28s on the ground set up as a left-center-right.”
The unusual FOH setup on the tour featured mixers for both bands driving the PA simultaneously from their respective consoles as the lineup of musicians on stage changed from song to song. Richard Sharratt, mixing front-of-house for Peter Gabriel on a Solid State Logic L500 Plus console and utilizing control gear from Firehouse, took the lead on songs performed by Gabriel’s band, which included Tony Levin on bass and featured vocalist Jennie Abrahamson. Howard Page, on a Studer Vista 5 console with control equipment from Clair Global mixed Sting, whose band included drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and featured vocalist Jo Lowry, taking the lead on his longtime client’s songs.
“The challenge for me has been gearing the system to accommodate both styles of mixing,” says Pollock. “Each console has eight sends that go into a pile of Lake DLP processors, which is where the summing happens. From there it goes into a Rocknet system that distributes to the LA8 amplified controllers.”
Although many system techs favor cardioid sub configurations these days, Pollock had no need to keep the low frequency energy off the stage. “The band and monitor engineers actually like the low end. And since we’re seating 270 degrees, I really want to have control of all my resources and put more LF energy onto the sides to have more even and musical LF coverage.”
Sharratt comments, “Peter has used and preferred L-Acoustics for a very long time. The K1 is a continuation of that tradition, and with minimal but skillful tweaking from Jamie it produced a warm, fat but precise sound in all the different types of venues that we played. I remember the first time using K1 in London’s Hyde Park and was struck then by the latent power, but also the sense that I was listening to near field monitors.”
Sharratt had a pair of powered 108Ps and an SB15 sub at front of house for a near field system, Pollock reports. “We also supplied 108Ps for Peter’s dressing room, and a pair of 108Ps that went into Peter’s band’s dressing room, as a practice system.”
Pollock maintained relatively granular control of the speakers. “I have control of every two boxes utilizing the multi-grouping features in Network Manager. On the smaller gigs I’ll even do single circuits on the bottom K2s to get a little bit more resolution, especially if I can’t achieve the perfect trim height. But we don’t matrix into the PA where we’re sending different feeds to the upper or lower parts; the mains and the flown subs get all the main left-right mix,” he explains.
“One of my favorite things about L-Acoustics is the FIR filters,” he continues. “I’ve always said that you can move them half a dB and hear the difference. Getting the geometry of the array right means you don’t need so much of that stuff. But having the ability to use FIRs, especially on the upper and lower parts of the array, can be invaluable.”
The style of music performed by the two artists does differ somewhat, Pollock observes, with Sting’s slightly simpler instrumentation requiring a very clean, up-front sound. “Peter has this very big, dynamic sound with lot of different little parts. Richard wants all those details and notes to really happen, so we need a lot of warmth in the PA. We came up with a really good, happy medium as far as what I give the guys on a day-to-day basis. I let them individually carve out the piece that they need. Both engineers are some of the best in the business with incredible amounts of experience and great ears, so it’s been really enjoyable.”
For more info on the tour, visit http://petergabriel.com/news/peter-and-sting-tour-2016/. Firehouse Productions can also be found online at www.firehouseproductions.com .