Franz Ferdinand take iLive on tour
JAPAN: An Allen & Heath iLive digital mixing system has travelled all the way over from Europe for the recent Franz Ferdinand performance at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival. The equipment was supplied by UK-based audio supplier, Wigwam, who integrated the iLive system into it’s own package earlier this year. The equipment chosen was specified by the band’s monitor engineer, Tom Howat, who has adopted the iLive system due its ‘very responsive and quick working environment’ as well as the ‘flexible nature of the surface.’
Fuji Rock – the largest outdoor festival in Japan – is held each year on Mount Takenoko at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture. The three-day event is organised by Smash Japan, with audience numbers for Franz Ferdinand’s headline performance on the main stage this year reaching ‘at least 10,000 plus’. Other artists performing at the event included Jack Johnson, Outkast, Travis, Arcade Fire and more.
‘Once again, the iLive has lived up to my expectations,’ remarked Mr Howat. ‘We flew it half-way around the world, and as soon as it arrived in Japan from our previous show in France – three days before Fuji Rock – it was driven three hours to the festival site up a mountain, before we set it up and put it to work. It all performed flawlessly straight away despite the physical rigours of international freight and a very tired audio department. It has already set off back to Europe for our Italian shows in a couple of days time and I have every hope it will continue to deliver reliably.’
Mr Howat’s usual setup for Franz Ferdinand comprises an iLive-112 Surface and iDR10 Mixrack with additional PL10 remote controller. The iLive monitor system manages six wedge mixes, five stereo RF IEM mixes and one stereo hardwired IEM mix, three effects sends and two mixes for FOH. For the Fuji Rock event, however, the decision was made not to transport the usual wedges and amplifiers in order to keep weight and costs down.
‘Instead we used Clair Japan's brand new and excellent CM2 double 12-inch wedges powered by PLM amplifiers,’ explained Mr Howat. ‘ It’s a great new addition to their inventory and we were honoured to be amongst the first users of this equipment.’
Mr Howat’s approach to mixing is described as ‘manual-based’, however he does make use of scene recalls to redeploy fader assignments on the surface, bringing up required channels as needed.
‘I really enjoy the versatility of the fader layout approach coupled with using the PL10 to cue monitor mixes,’ he continued. ‘It leads to a very responsive and quick working environment, an essential feature for a monitor desk - less time looking at the desk and more time to keep an eye on the band. Oh, and the desk sounds great as well - preamps, compressors and effects are all top class.’
The band also does not always stay fixed to a preset show list, so he required a console that is both flexible and intuitive in its nature.
‘During the tour, the group pulled a new song out of the hat, which involved plenty of swapping around and band members changing roles – Alex on keys, Nick on lead vocal etc,’ he explained, ‘so I put a partial scene together quickly during sound check, and it all did as I thought it might.’
When questioned whether he would make any changes for future concerts of this type, Mr Howat responded: ‘Not particularly, I think we made a good compromise on bringing the console, line system and IEMs, and using local wedges was very much the correct thing to do.’
Summarising the event, Mr Howat stated: ‘The band had a great show at Fuji Rock with a fantastic crowd, and both themselves and the crew received a very warm welcome from the festival organisers and Clair Japan. Thanks to everyone for being so hospitable.’