West London based rental company Entec renewed its long working relationship with both FOH engineer Paul Ramsay and UK rockers band Skunk Anansie, who kicked off their ‘Black Traffic’ tour with UK and European dates.
Ramsay has worked with the band since 1996 – and also with Entec as audio contractors for that period – although the band took an eight year hiatus between 2001 and their much acclaimed reformation in 2009!
Once again a d&b system was specified (as it was on their very first production tour back in 1996) .. however there has been considerable system and technical evolutions since then!
This time the d&b was a J-Series line array, and this was looked after on the road by Entec’s James Kerridge and Richard Gibson.
The venues varied between 1200 and 12,000 capacities, so the key was having a system that was fully – and easily – adaptable, straightforward to fly as well as sounding great!
In its largest format, the PA comprised eight d&b J8 speakers a side with four J12 downs, with eight V8s left and right for the side hangs.
The band have a propensity for serious bass, so eight B2s a side went in for the largest shows, arranged in a distributed bass array when the venue allowed it, along with four J-Infra subs.
Onstage, there were four Q10s and four Q1s along the stage for in & out fills. The whole system was powered by d&b D12 amps as always.
Ramsay specified a Midas XL4 console for the tour. Although he was using a DiGiCo SD7 for festivals during the summer, he thinks there is something sonically magical about the sound and warmth of the XL4 that is just perfect for Skunk Anansie in a headline touring situation. Entec actually bought the XL4 to meet Ramsay’s spec back in 1997!
He used an impressive amount of outboards including a TC2290 delay, an Eventide H3000 harmoniser, a Lexicon PCM 91, a TC M6000 reverb, two Yamaha SPX 990s, two Avalon VT 737 valve compressors, two BSS DPR 901s, a dbx 1066 and two dbx RM160s, six Drawmer DS201 gates and a Midas XL42 mic preamp, together with two Summit DCL200s valve compressors and two XTA D2s dual dynamic compressors.
He aims for a big, bold rocky sound, with heavy bottom end, reproducing some of the intricacies and detail present on the album tracks … but with their own live edge.
He augmented the mix with some of his own toys including a 4-channel Radial Phase Bank which he comments is very ‘musical’.
A relatively straightforward rock ‘n’ roll mix with its own complexities, it’s a busy show for Ramsay in terms of cues, some of which are highly detailed and specific.
He likes the TC M6000 on the drums and vocals and uses the TC 2290 for long delays on lead singer Skin’s vocals. The H3000 is applied to the backing vocals and the SPX’s are used to create all the more dramatic effects like distortions on vocals and drums.
Three channels of the DCL 200 are dedicated to the bass, with the fourth on acoustic guitar. The Avalon VT737 is used to warm up Skin’s vocal, inserted into an XTA D2 dynamic EQ.
Monitors on the tour were looked after by Richard Gibson and mixed by the band’s engineer Gerry Colclough using a Midas Pro 9.
The side fills were two stacks of d&b C7, and two C7 subs were provided for drummer Mark Richardson, with the band all on their own Shure PSM900 IEM system. They also carry most of their own mics – primarily Shure with a sprinkling of others including Royer’s.
Entec supplied a Midas Pro2C console in addition for the opening act, The Jezebels from Australia, who played all but four shows on the itinerary.
Story & Photography by Louise Stickland