ADLIB Lighting and Sound continue to service top International comedy acts with the latest supply of full technical production for US ventriloquist Jeff Dunham - arguably best known for his character Achmed The Dead Terrorist (the catchphrase “Siiilence,… I KEEL you” should ring a bell!)
Dunham has been dubbed as "America's favourite comedian" by Time Magazine, and according to concert industry bible Pollstar, was the top-grossing standup act in North America for the past two years as well as being the most successful touring comic in the world for 2009, so the ADLIB team were delighted to add him to their fast growing portfolio of comedy performers.
Sound The sound design and spec was an open brief and ADLIB's James Neale was asked to demonstrate his multiplexing abilities by designing and tech'ing the system as well as taking on FOH/monitor engineering duties.
Obviously vocal intelligibility was the absolute key here, as was getting a good clean sound at every seat in the house for Dunham and the 5 characters in his show.
Neale decided on a JBL VerTec PA, primarily because of its ease of use as a combined flown and ground stacked system. He knew that in the City Hall shows, he would have to split the arrays into these two positions to preserve the site lines and ensure that the seats around the sides of the stage had uninterrupted views - and this was the biggest challenge of the tour for him.
It was the first ventriloquist act for which he's mixed sound but he found dealing with Dunham's voices relatively straightforward, "His projection is excellent" he remarks, although this also meant keeping a sharp ear out to control the sibilance when he was talking through his teeth, and tweaking the EQ constantly as Dunham swapped between puppets, who talked both on and off mic.
The system consisted of 20 VerTec 4889 cabinets, 10 a side, powered by Camco amps. Four L-Acoustics ARCS a side were used for in and outfills, together with 4 x dV-DOSC frontfills and 2 x L-Acoustics SB28 subs a-side. All the L-Acoustics elements were powered by Labgruppen PLM 10000Q amps.
The system was fine tuned each day to give the most powerful, clear sound in each different acoustical environment.
He used a DigiDesign SC48 mixer - chosen because it's a quality product and ideal for a tour of this size and these venues, using an expedient left and right mix and two monitor sends.
Dunham's specified mic is a Shure KSM9 radio.
When they arrived at the O2 Arena London, the PA was swapped out for a V-DOSC system, with main hangs made up of 15 cabinets with 3 dV-DOSC underhangs a- side, together with a side hang of 16 L-Acoustics KUDO a side, all powered by LA8 amps. In addition to this, two delay hangs of VerTec 4889 were installed to give added intelligibility at the rear of the top balconies. ADLIB has used this format in the O2 many times, so they knew it would be the right solution for this show. Opening act Guitar Man played guitar and cracked jokes, with ADLIB supplying Sennheiser packs for the guitar and mic which was a DPA 4088 headset. Using high quality mics meant they could safely crank up the wedges.
Neale worked with PA tech Michael Flaherty on the tour and for the O2 Arena show, they were joined by Tony Szabo and Marc Peers.
ADLIB's Ian Tomlinson designed the rig around the basic spec that was sent over from the US, and Andy Rowe went out and operated on the road.
As you would expect, it was a simple but very precise rig - it was all about Dunham and the puppets - so it was essential to ensure that Dunham's IMAG image appeared clearly all the time on the onstage screen with no distractions. The philosophy was similar to that of lighting a TV show.
It was a 3 truss rig. On the front were 10 ETC Source Four profiles with 19 degree lenses and 10 Martin Professional MAC 700 Washes. The mid truss had 8 MAC 700 profiles and a front projection screen that was flanked by 2 black legs. On the back truss was a full black drape backdrop.
The backdrop was highlighted with 9 PixelPAR 90s, sitting on the floor and skimming up the cloth.
Rowe ran everything from a Road Hog console, and was joined by technician Mike Summerfield on the tour and Alan Harrison at the O2, where they flew an extra truss to accommodate a larger screen.
ADLIB also supplied 2 Lycian follow spots.
The video elements were supplied by XL Video.
Jeff Dunham is the latest in a series of leading comedians for which ADLIB has supplied technical production. Other recent tours include Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Lee Mack, Dave Gorman and Russell Howard's December arena tour.
ADLIB's client manager Phil Kielty comments “Working with an act as unique as Jeff Dunham was a real challenge. The professionalism of our crew and the US production team made it smooth & stress free. From Wolverhampton Civic to the O2 Arena, the worshipful audience cry of "Siiilence I keel you" each night, made it one of the most memorable productions ..... that I can remember...ha ha”!!!
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