After storming the globe for nearly 40 years, Judas Priest, are going out strong as they rock the planet on the massive Epitaph outing. Hitting all the major cities across the globe on what will be their final world tour, the metal masterminds trek began this past June in Europe, with U.S. dates from October through December to follow.
Tending to the live sound needs for iconic rockers from Slash to Whitesnake for many years, engineer Martin Walker returns to the Judas Priest fold, with whom he has toured with for over a decade. The self-confessed analog maven has seemingly crossed over to the digital domain for good, favoring DiGiCo consoles for the past several years, beginning back in 2008 with a D5 on Priest's â€˜Nostradamus' tour—prompted by the difficulty in finding an analog solution that could accommodate the band's needs. In subsequent years, he's used an SD8 with Slash and very briefly with Taylor Swift, and traded up to an SD7 this spring, working with another longtime production provider, Major Tom, supplying monitors and control for the tour.
“I love the DiGiCo product, and asked for an SD8 on the Judas Priest tour,” Walker recalled. “Major Tom's Lars Brogaard admitted he didn't have one available to me, so promised me an â€˜upgrade', leaving me with an SD7, something I was more than happy with.”
With an overall input count of approximately 55—comprised of 24 for drums, the usual guitar and bass inputs, some keyboard and some playback—output-wise, it's kept as simple as possible for festival reasons: L + R, an infill send and a sub send (on a mono aux). For the band's headlining arena shows, Walker says he'll add a L+R side hang send and a flown centre infill. With a fair amount of playback intros, a show intro, as well as multiple song intros, there are also a couple of songs played to track, too. “But the track is mainly sound effects,” Walker clarified, “as the band are still very much a â€˜live band'… there's no guitars, bass drums or vocals on the tracks.”
Eschewing plug-ins, Walker still carries a fair amount of outboard gear, for many of the specific effects that Priest requires, not available onboard. “No plug-ins for me; they're waaaaaaaaay too complicated for an old-school guy like me! I still use a fair amount of outboard, which includes two TC Electronic D-Two's, two Yamaha SPX990's, a Yamaha SPX2000, a Behringer Bassfex unit, a dbx 120 and an Eventide Eclipse—all used fairly heavily throughout the show, particularly the D-Two's!”
With a long road ahead through the end of the year and certainly beyond, Walker's an ardent, dyed-in-the-wool DiGiCo supporter—raving about all things from the console to the company. “DiGiCo, to me right now, are the most natural sounding digital consoles out there. And as analog consoles take a long slow retirement out of our industry, you have to find a replacement for them. For me, personally, I feel DiGiCo make that replacement honorably. I get great support from DiGiCo—from the smallest problem to the biggest issue—they're able to solve over the phone, which I think is amazing in itself. Another reason why I love DiGiCo so much is they have a certain British family quality, with a little English eccentricness about them whilst still remaining totally professional and dedicated to their confidence in their product… a rare thing nowadays!”