Twenty-two Claypaky Sharpys and 12 Philips Vari*Lite 3000 Spots were included on the spec although Riot’s spot use was minimal. “I tend to use the spots more as washes,” he said. “The Sharpys were more important to the design because Manson’s brief prohibits too much movement, so I needed a really good beam that will offered a range of powerful looks.
“Another fixture I love is the Claypaky A.leda B-Eye K20. I have 12 of them in this design; the zoom is brilliant and so is the richness of the colours. I’d used them before and I just had to use it on Manson. When the zoom narrows down, it goes from wash mode to a beam effect and you can control the elements of each of the 37 LEDs precisely. It’s an amazing tool. The show is about Manson, obviously, so the band are in darkness most of the time but I have  Martin MAC Aura XBs as side washes for pick-ups during some parts of the performance.”
As well as plenty of traditional Molefays for audience lighting and a battery of Martin Atomic 3000 strobes, an oddball addition to Riot’s spec was the request for a ‘fuzz’ working light that Manson held about his face during his cover of the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’, against a UV-painted backdrop lit by Altman cannons.
Riot ran the show from a ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium console, supplied with a wing and a back-up. “I’ve been a ChamSys user for three years,” informed the LD. “MA desks were always the norm for me because so many French venues have them as standard, but when I was touring with Gojira, one of the venues had a ChamSys. I immediately liked its features and since then it’s what I’ve been requesting. It seems to generate interest from other LDs every time I use it on a festival.
“There are 200 universes onboard, you don’t need any nodes and it’s perfect for live busking, which is essential for me on this show. I program with Cue Stack but Manson can be so unpredictable that I have to maintain the freedom to immediately change things and the MQ500 is great for that.”
ON WITH D-SHOW
Since filling the role of FOH sound engineer in late 2006, George Chapman has been virtually glued to the full-size Avid Venue D-Show as his mixing desk of choice. “It was an easy decision because there was already a D-Show in place when I got the gig!” laughed Chapman. “The board accommodated the show very well, not least because at the time it offered the Eventide plug-ins that we needed for Marilyn’s voice. The rack units were getting harder to find in good working order although we currently have Eventide H3000 D/SE Ultra Harmonizers on the tour for the same application.
“Over the years I’ve used the board, I’ve found ways to manipulate it and make it sound the way it needs to for this show. Maybe in the next year or two, I’ll move on to something different but it continues to do a great job and it’s one of those boards you can pick one up anywhere, as well as parts. At the moment, I’m running 48 input channels so I’m close to needing another snake head or some more channels because the board is structured around banks of 48, but in the States, the drummer’s kit is a little smaller, so we might be OK in most situations. But it’s always nice to have a few extra channels. For instance, tonight we have a guest [Mr. Depp] coming on to play guitar and I need to accommodate him.”
The subsonic element of Manson’s sound can be physically intimidating at times, however, Chapman manages to preserve intelligibility. “The music relies so much on that sub energy,” he said, “but there’s a lot of high and high-mid going on, and I have to achieve clarity within that. It‘s a fine balance of knowing which instruments you can have in those lower frequencies and which ones you want to keep out of that area while trying to control your PA system within any given environment. In the end, proper use of gain structure and hi-pass filters, and knowing the music well, are key to the job in hand.”
While Chapman applies plenty of compression on the drum overheads and bass, the kick drums and toms only have gates over them. “Some of the backing tracks go a little further than I need them to in a live situation so I have to compress them quite a bit as well as vocals. The overall mix, however, is not compressed. I run it through a Midas XL42 analogue pre-amp to warm up the general sound of the show and trim a little of the system EQ.”
Also in the outboard rack, Chapman had a pair of Avalon processors for Manson’s vocal. “The EQ section and pre-amp help to give his vocal some presence. It gives me a quick go-to EQ knob so that when he’s talking between songs, I can duck the lower end of his voice so it’s not booming all over the room.”
An audio pro for 10 years, Sam Coy was brought in mid-tour to take over monitors although he had already racked up some previous Manson experience. In 2009, when the band booked in to rehearse at Swing House, an L.A. company at which Coy worked, he was hired for the sessions. “As time wore on, they kept calling me for more rehearsals, even when they moved to other studios,” he said. “On this tour, I came in for the Berlin date [November 25th] and I’ve been having a lot of fun – the band are fantastic.”
Although a long-time DiGiCo user, Coy has been mixing on Avid’s smaller Venue Profile console. “It’s the standard package and, like George, I inherited the Avid situation and, for now, I’m happy with it,” commented the engineer. “My predecessor ran a lot more plug-ins than I use. In monitor world, I find that keeping things fairly basic so that the console can function a little faster and I don’t have to worry about any glitches when I’m changing from page to page. So I keep it to the must-haves, such the C6 multi-band compressor on vocals just to level all my frequencies out before they hit the in-ears.”