American comedy star tours the UK with Entec’s full production support.
Few comedians would have the sheer brass neck to have their arena show opened by a three-piece progressive jazz trio, but Amy Schumer is hardly run of the mill.
A multiple Emmy Award winner who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her 2015 film ‘Trainwreck’, New Yorker Schumer has become virtually omnipresent on America television, famed for her confessional, observational, self-deprecating schtick. And in September, after spending the last few years wowing the folks back at home, the Jewish stand-up princess arrived in Europe to play a string of dates with Entec Sound & Light providing a complete production package to promoter Live Nation UK.
Sandwiched between appearances in Dublin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen, Schumer’s UK tour played to audiences of between 2,500 and 3,500 people at the Edinburgh Playhouse and Manchester Apollo, culminating in her O2 Arena performance in front of an impressive 12,000 fans.
Standing in the wings every night was Live Nation tour co-ordinator Gordon Isaacs, whose fateful call to Entec, he says, literally saved the day. “We were told that Amy’s production manager [and FOH engineer] Scott Tydings was supplying all the production through his own US company, however, four days before the tour began, we received a second rider which stated that the production was to be provided by Live Nation. This was something that we had to jump on very, very quickly.
“I had very recently used Entec’s lighting services for a very successful London gig by Bill Burr, and they did a fantastic job so I didn’t hesitate to contact [managing director & head of lighting] Noreen O’Riordan to see what Entec might be able to offer us at such notice.”
Isaacs could not have asked for a better response. “As well as pulling together some excellent sound and lighting systems, she offered to co-ordinate the entire production by sub-contracting a complete package that included video, backline, trucking and buses.” he explains. “It all fell into place like magic and that was largely because Noreen was willing to go the extra mile and work through August Bank Holiday, liaising directly with each of the companies on our behalf as our production ‘broker’ to match the rider’s spec. To have that pressure taken off us by one very reliable source was the biggest relief imaginable.”
Entec’s sound department, headed by Jonny Clark, furnished the Schumer tour with a system featuring a d&b J-Series line array, d&b M4 stage wedges and a Midas PRO9 console that handled front of house and monitors, mixed by multi-tasker Scott Tydings, known for his recent work on Kevin Hart’s What Now? world tour.
Sound crew chief Maurizio Schiavi was joined by fellow techs Richard Gough, Jean-Michel Brown, Finbar Neenan (who joined the tour for the O2 show) and Tom Olorenshaw, the latter taking responsibility for the patch and RF systems which majored on Axient-managed Shure UHF-R packages comprising Beta 58A capsules on UR2 handheld transmitters for Schumer and her warm-up act Rachel Feinstein.
In the spirit of keeping it in the family, Schumer’s elder brother, bass clarinetist Jason Stein’s jazz trio Locksmith Isidore was the surprise opening act. Schiavi was blown away. He says: “These guys have to be seen and heard to believe. I’m a big jazz aficionado and it was an absolute joy to watch this trio weave some very avant-garde magic. You couldn’t have imagined a bigger contrast between them and Amy, who really raised the roof each night.”
“With comedy, it’s no surprise that speech clarity is paramount and we spent a very long time at each venue walking the room to get crisp, excellent coverage throughout the room without resorting to delay hangs. The theatres were actually more of a challenge than the O2, especially the Edinburgh Playhouse which was very tough because of its shape and the natural acoustics, but we achieved good results by putting in the work.”
Crew chief, technician and rigger Peter ‘Pepper’ Schofield headed up the lighting department. He worked alongside Richard Brennan and lighting operator Simon Chandler-Honnor, who took charge of an Avolites Tiger Touch 2 console with fader wing.
Reflecting the audio mix, the lighting design was simple but effective, enabled in the main by more than 30 Martin MAC Aura XBs with ChromaQ ColorForce 72s, Thomas 4-Lite Molefays and a pair of Robert Juliet Victor 1800W follow spots. Entec also provided the stage drapes and borders.
The complete production supplied and sourced by Entec also included a screen, camera and PPU package from Rhodri Shaw at Transition Video, backline from John Henry’s, trucking by Transam and sleeper buses from Starliner. Catering was provided by Eat To The Beat’s Rachel Collins and Richard Marston.
“It’s very gratifying when you have a company like Entec taking the strain and providing a first class service, comments Gordon Isaacs, for whom comedy has been king since he started out in the business 25 years ago. “I used to work at a university and one of my students, Peter Kay, made it big. One day, he asked if I’d like to go out on the road with him, and I’ve never looked back.
“Since the mid-to-late ’90s, audiences have become accustomed to large scale arena comedy shows. So many people said that comedy in arenas would never work, but one or two acts proved them wrong. It has since become a very popular and lucrative part of the live entertainment business. At the end of the day, people love to laugh and I’m very pleased to be part of the process behind making that happen.”
During her UK visit, Schumer promoted her autobiography ‘The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo’ and attended the GQ Men of the Year awards where she was presented with the ‘Woman of the Year’ award – a firm indicator that her profile on the eastern side of the Atlantic is on the rise.
“Amy’s tour was a great success,” says Isaacs. “Although she has been over here before, her profile wasn’t as big as it currently is, so this tour was a big deal for her. The audiences absolutely loved her and when Amy returns next time, I believe it will be for a full arena tour.”
He adds: “All of Entec’s team did a wonderful job although I think Noreen, Pepper and Maurizio were particularly outstanding. This simply would not have happened without Noreen’s massive input and if there were any problems on the road, the guys dealt with them before I knew about them, which is the perfect scenario.”