Fronted by Tom Smith, a lead singer famously blessed with the largest vocal range of any contemporary artist, Editors could rightfully be described as a classic workhorse band with a relentless commitment to the live scene. Stronger and more confident than ever, and with Entec’s staunch audio support on tap throughout, the band – featuring Smith’s fellow co-founders Russell Leetch and Ed Lay, plus Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams – hit a purple patch in 2018 with the spring release of Violence, their latest long player, coinciding with the start of nine solid months of touring, amounting to no less than 102 shows.
Difficult to categorise, Editors’ broad music catalogue was represented onstage by a dynamic, career-spanning set that blended old classics like ‘Munich’, ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ and ‘An End Has A Start’ with the more recent ‘Sugar’, ‘Darkness At The Door’ and ‘Nothingness’, winning new fans every night as well as satisfying the faithful.
At the helm of the band’s production is Stumpy (a.k.a. Fraser McAvoy), who works closely with tour manager Mark ‘Maccum’ Williams. Stumpy came into the Editors camp as PM just over two years ago following a long spell with acts including Skunk Anansie, Marillion and Wet Wet Wet. After his first year, he put the production supply out for tender, as he explained: “I wanted to change a few things, and bringing Entec in was one of the big moves for me. Jonny Clark [Entec’s head of sound] was very helpful in shaping and pricing a package that would work for us on several counts. I was happy about that because they’ve been my preferred audio supplier for more than 20 years.
“The standard of Entec’s service has always been second to none. The relationship I had with Dick Hayes was great and the way Jonny has picked up the mantle has been superb. Their independent structure allows them to be more instantly responsive and you’re treated in a warm and respectful manner. They do everything the correct way and nothing is ever too much trouble. For instance, during our last week in Europe, we had some of the band’s own DI boxes go down. I made a phone call to Jonny at 4pm and at 9.30 the next morning, three new DIs promptly arrived. That’s what real support is all about.”
With 14 compelling years behind them, Editors’ working preferences are long established. Entec’s practical role, meanwhile, was all about providing the most comfortable solutions for the audio team. “We spent a lot of time investigating how best to simplify this touring system,” said Jonny. “Much of our focus was on how we packaged the equipment to fit neatly into the available truck space and enable the quickest load-in and load-out, keeping Stumpy and the guys happy. Being able to accommodate FOH and monitors within a 13U double-wide rack at either end was a small victory. It was a neat set-up that occupied a very small footprint onstage and gave us half the amount of lids to store – a minor detail that becomes a big deal in tight confines.”
Editors’ year began in February with rehearsals at Robannas studio in Birmingham, in preparation for a handful of launch shows for Violence in early March, in Warsaw, Birmingham, Manchester, Rome and London. With barely enough time to catch their breath, the band and their core crew of 10 returned to Europe for a full-scale spring tour, followed by a trek to the USA and Mexico. By the summer, Editors were immersing themselves in the festival scene, playing 27 dates at events ranging from Werchter’s TW Classic, PinkPop and Zürich OpenAir, to Coventry’s Godiva Festival and British Summer Time in Hyde Park (with The Cure).
Sandwiched in between the latter run and the year’s final series of concerts in Europe was a 14-date autumn tour of the UK and Ireland, for which Entec despatched Peter Eltringham as a system tech. Up to this point, Entec’s package had consisted of a line system, monitor control and mics, however, it was now expanded to include an d&b J-Series line array, comprising 20 J8 loudspeakers, four J12s and eight J-SUBs (12 at Brixton Academy) with 18 D80 amplifiers.
Said Peter: “As we normally do, we looked at the venue data before arriving at each gig to get an idea of how many boxes to take off the truck in the morning, and then go and measure the room ourselves because the plan is never the same as the building you’re faced with!
“We used ArrayProcessing everywhere we put PA and trim everything using d&b’s ArrayCalc and R1 remote control software. It gave us a lot of headroom which is so important for clarity. It’s nice to be able to sit Tom Smith’s great voice on top of the mix and that combination of ArrayProcessing and J-Series can give you such an intelligible yet powerful result.
“The boxes weren’t really working that hard at any of the shows, not because it wasn’t a loud show but simply because we installed the correct amount of boxes and designed for a very even coverage. That always gives the FOH engineer the confidence that what they are hearing mirrors the audience experience.”
Stage tech Colin Woodward, who assumed the system tech role outside of the UK, believed that simplicity was often the best policy: “Entec’s line systems are designed to enable an easy set-up, ensuring that the whole stage is ready in no time, and there’s a lot to be said for their approach. As for the J-Series, it worked exceptionally well every day, although many of us have come to expect nothing less, and Pete’s help and know-how was a key asset.”