As tours go, Humanz had an auspicious introduction, with a pre-album release showcase on March 24th at south London’s Printworks where the special guests included Noel Gallagher, Savages singer Jehnny Beth, electronic music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre and Albarn’s Blur colleague Graham Coxon. According to Stanley, it came at a time when the show design was still a work in progress. “It was really a preview of the tour, which was then another three months away,” he says, “but the reaction was seriously encouraging.”
He continued: “From January, right the way through, Damon was very involved and attended weekly meetings, looking at different concepts and evolving the show design. He has a level of attention and commitment I’ve never really seen with any other bands I’ve worked with. Together with Matt Pitman, the LD I hired, we were looking at live WYSIWYG renderings of how the lighting, video and staging would look for each song. That was really interesting for me. Jamie, meanwhile, was in the studio working on all the crucial animation, the music videos and the Humanz album artwork. For a while there, it was real hive of activity.”
LOGISTICS & SYSTEMS
Freight specialist Global Motion has been ensuring the safe delivery of Gorillaz’ key equipment – the audio consoles, stage wedges, in-ear monitors, radio microphones and line systems supplied by Entec, along with lighting and video control, and backline – from the UK to North America and South-East Asia.
“We’ve had a couple of last minute moves because the schedule kept changing especially when, at three days’ notice, we added three promo dates in New York, but it’s all gone smoothly,” reports Stanley, “We have some big moves coming up: after another North American leg, we return to Europe for five weeks and end the year in South America. Throughout all of this, we’ve managed to cover everything by touring a universal package, while the rest gets picked up locally.”
A particular favourite of FOH engineer Matt Butcher, d&b audiotechnik’s ‘ArrayProcessed’ J-Series is the chosen line array system for the tour, with Entec supplying it exclusively in the UK and Europe, while Colorado-based Brown Note Productions covers requirements in America. “What we have is a very complex and demanding audio set-up for a rock’n’roll show,” said Stanley, with some satisfaction. “We have over 400 lines running up and down the Optocore loop, which is everything from wedges, sidefills and in-ears, to radio mics and 128 channels of playback, and it’s a 13-piece band with a lot of guest vocalists.
“This is one of the first tours to benefit from a new piece of audio format conversion equipment from DiGiCo called the Orange Box. It’s an ‘anything in, anything out’ solution that takes all of the playback channels in BNC format and outputs them as Optocore, enabling them to be shared amongst all the consoles via the Opto-loop. Before we even built the playback rig, our monitor engineer Dave Guerin was talking about this great, new product and we were on a Skype call with DiGiCo and our MIDI and playback techs, after which Entec purchased it for us to have on the tour.
“Ironically, we don’t have a record split on this rig. The only way we’d ever be able to do a festival audio stream would be to either provide five feeds of MADI or, preferably, have Matt Butcher send them a left/right mix from FOH. We’ve actually done both this year but with Matt being such an incredible live, studio and post-mix engineer, that would always be our go-to solution.”