Liverpool UK based ADLIB's audio division supplied an L-ACOUSTICS K1 sound system and crew to help produce a great sound & a retro vibe on legendary ska band The Specials most recent tour.
The Specials acclaimed 30th anniversary revival tour in 2009 was a huge success. This fuelled further live shows & interest, with demand not just from those who were teenagers during some of the grimmest years of 'Thatcher's Britain', but a whole new generation of young Specials fans who get the musical & political legacy they left etched in time.
It was ADLIB's second Specials tour and the first for monitor systems engineer Marc Peers who jumped at the opportunity to be onboard. "It's an absolute privilege to get to work with one of the best and most original bands of that era,” he enthuses.
With up to 13 musicians and performers onstage at peak times, monitor world was quite frenetic! Peers was working alongside Specials monitor engineer Pete Abbott, who has been with them since 2009, like ADLIB, coming onboard via tour manager Mike Darling.
Their monitor set up - unsurprisingly is â€˜a bit retro'- lots of speakers on stage although wedges are a lot smaller and more efficient than in 1979! ADLIB supplied 16 d&b M2 wedges, powered by D12 amplifiers, which handled a total of 12 mixes. Lynval Golding, Neville Staple and the flute player used IEMs, together with the string section so a mix of Sennheiser G3 supplied by ADLIB and G2 owned by the band was utilised, complete with a technical IEM mix for the backline techs.
Abbott specified a Soundcraft Vi6 console not only as he likes the sound of it, but because it has two sets of fully independent PFL buses, one of which he uses for wedges and the other for IEMs. It also has a plethora of input & outputs busses - of which they used 46 inputs and 28 outputs. "It has plenty of scope and is one of the best sounding boards available right now," he sums up.
Sidefills – 2 x L-ACOUSTICS ARCS boxes per-side, were flown to give the best coverage in both vertical and horizontal planes, complimented with 2 x SB28 subs per-side.
It's a fun stage during the performance. The band are going full tilt and don't stop for anything- all adding to monitor world challenges,but what Peers, Abbott and so many others really appreciate is that The Specials always give it 150%.
Peers says heartfelty "They are here now purely on merit and people want to see them more than ever. The music is as relevant now as it was then and that speaks for itself." Their best known material is also a valuable historical testament to the social and political landscape of the time
It was Abbott's second touring experience with ADLIB, which he found a wholly positive one, "They are great, they really have some amazing people working for them and the whole company's attitude starts there. The gear is excellent, and we have been thoroughly spoilt with having such an A-Team crew on this with Marc, James (Neale) and Carlos (Herreros).
At the other end of the multicore, keeping it loud and clear were ADLIB's James Neale, systems engineer extraordinaire for the FOH system, and band engineer Marcos Ferrari - from sunny Brazil and with all the flourish his surname would imply, who's has been mixing The Specials since the reformation.
They used L-ACOUSTICS K1 for the main hangs, with 8 a-side, plus 3 x Kara downfills per-side for the theatre venues, and 10 / 3 for Brixton and the arenas. At the Ricoh Arena in Coventry & Alexandra Palace in London they added 6 x V-DOSC delays a-side two-thirds of the way down the hall, just behind the FOH position.
The subs were 4 x SB28s a-side on the floor, and a selection of ARCs & dV-DOSC cabinets were used for frontfills.
All the L-ACOUSTICS elements were driven by their LA8 amplifiers.
The FOH console was a Midas Heritage H3000, specified by Ferrari, who wanted to 'go analogue', complete with all the â€˜toys'.
The â€˜Toys' included vintage standards like dbx 160sl, Summit DCL compressors & Drawmer DS201 and 501 gates. There were distressors for the guitars and a Transient Designer, an old favourite for drum compression.
The effects line up included the ubiquitous Yamaha SPX 990, a TC D2 delay, and Lexicon PCM 70s, 81s and 91s.
Ferrari specified the Midas H3000 board - a throw-back to the days of 8 person lifts but still sounding as rich & full as ever. The Specials have a plethora of mid range layers to their sound - guitars, brass, keyboards, vocals, etc., - which Ferrari believes is all far better handled by the analogue preamps than anything available in digital world. "I love analogue!" he declares!
In terms of sonic experience, the idea is to replicate as clearly and cleanly as possible the sounds of the original recordings and multi-layered ska/reggae with its rocksteady beat, just as it comes, but louder, rawer and with a distinctive 2011 attitude.
He is really enjoying working with the band and with ADLIB of whom he says, "They are the best!"
He also likes the sound of the K1, especially the power in the low end, and the fact that it's so quick and easy to rig, with most of the flying components being integral to the speaker cabinets.
ADLIB's account handler Phil Kielty says, "It's great to see the Specials going stronger than ever and getting such a great reception wherever they go, bringing their magic and musical heritage now to a new generation. I was brought up on The Jam, The Specials etc and everyone here at ADLIB is thrilled to work with them again & of course, it's always a pleasure to be part of Mike Darling's team".
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