Liverpool, UK based ADLIB supplied Sound and Lighting to Russell Howard, star of Mock The Week and Russell Howard's Good News for his recent UK Arena Tour, braving the snow, ice and freezing fog typical of the inclement weather conditions gripping the country on a gruelling 10 date back-to-back schedule.
ADLIB's sound crew was chiefed by Marc Peers, who also mixed monitors. At front of house, James Neale also shared system tech duties with Richy Nicholson.
The JBL VerTec PA system was picked for its versatility and fast rigging capabilities. The main hangs consisted of 14 VerTec 4889 elements per side, with side hangs of 10 x 4889s. There were 4 x VerTec 4880A subs on the ground to add body and fullness to the sonic mix.
For front infills, Neale used 4 x L-Acoustics dv-DOSC cabinets, with 2 x L-Acoustics ARCs a side for outfills.
The VerTec was powered by Camco Vortex 6 amps, with Crown I Tech 8000s for the subs, LA8s for the dV-DOSCs, the outfills and the 3 ARCs per side which were utilised as side fills.
He was under some serious pressure to deliver a crystal clear sound to every seat in each Arena - always sonically challenging environments in which to work a show like this, which included up to 16000 capacity in Manchester's MEN Arena for the first night of the tour. So the task of tuning the system each day was crucial and undertaken by Neale and Nicholson with great precision and care.
Neale used a Yamaha M7CL as the FOH console. This desk was specified for its ease of operation and small size. Neale also used a Millenia STT-1 recording channel and a BSS DPR 901 MK 2 frequency conscious compressor. The Millenia was used as a very high quality pre-amp on Howards's main vocal. He has a very dynamic vocal, shouting one minute and speaking very softly the next minute. Neale used a BSS 901 to control the low end when he was speaking quietly and to take out the harsh frequencies when he shouted. Apart from the vocal channels there were also several sets of CD and video channels for the playback of intros and incidental music.
The size of the FOH area, which included audio and lighting control and camera positions was keep as tight as possible each day to allow for extra seats to be placed back on sale on the morning of each show. Such was the demand for Howard's live show.
Peers also used a 12 channel Yamaha LS9 - chosen for its expedient footprint and proved an ideal solution for the job in hand. In keeping with the clean look of the show- cable bridges provided extremely clear sightlines- monitoring consisted of 3 flown ARCS per side. Russell Howard's mic of choice is a Shure Beta 58 wired, set up each day with a fully redundant 'hot' spare.
The lighting design was conceived by ADLIB's Peter Abraham. They were working with a 60ft wide stage and no set, so Abraham's main objective was to create an ambience and a feel for the show, to ensure that Howard didn't look like he was standing alone in a massive black void and also to provide a visually interesting backdrop behind him, for the full stage view and also the IMAG camera shots that were projected onto two side screens.
He introduced a basic architecture to the space with 4 x 40ft upstage/downstage orientated trusses fanned out from the back, flown about a foot off the ground on the upstage edge and at normal trim height at the front. This effectively became a very simple set, with clean well defined lines that worked perfectly.
On each of the trusses were 5 Martin Professional MAC 250 Washes used to colour the stage floor and for beam-work, which Abraham describes as “outstanding” in terms of brightness for their compact size. Also on each truss were 2 PixelPARs, used for toning, and a 4-lite Mole for audience warming.
In the stage wings 4 Studio Due CityColor 2.5Ks were positioned, 2 per side, for strong low level cross light washing and strong colouration. Across the back on the floor were 6 MAC 2000 Profiles for additional beam effects.
For spotlighting, ADLIB supplied 2 Robert Juliat 2.5Ks, along with two DF50 hazers to discreetly enhance the MAC 250 beams.
It was not a busy show in terms of lights moving and colour changing, but required very accurate and subtle cueing, an operation undertaken by Tim Spilman using a WholeHog 3 console - his desk of choice for this style of show. A good coverage of lighting across the full stage was also essential to keep pace with Howard's highly animated style of performance and delivery, in which he's constantly on the move.
Spilman was joined on the lighting crew by Andy Rowe and Chris Neary.
Production manager Andy Grey commented, “Ten arena shows in ten days is a big ask, to which ADLIB responded with a top class audio and lighting package.
"The professional approach of ADLIB's team, from the initial design stage and equipment preparation to the attention to detail in all aspects of technical production, ensured that the tour ran completely smoothly.
"The quality of the hardware supplied by ADLIB is one thing, but their greatest asset has to be their crew, who's experience and knowledge combined with their hardworking and friendly approach helped to make the tour such a great success.”
Russell Howard was the latest in a long list of comedy tours serviced by ADLIB throughout 2009, a trend which looks set to continue for the coming year.