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DiGiCo right in control at Montreux Jazz Festival

DiGiCo right in control at Montreux Jazz Festival
DiGiCo right in control at Montreux Jazz Festival

This July, 200,000 visitors from around the world descended on the quite beautiful Lake Geneva setting for the 49th Montreux Jazz Festival, a two-week musical treat featuring performances from a string of eclectic, internationally renowned artists spanning a whole host of genres, from Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, to Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie, Toto, and Carlos Santana.

The thing about Montreux is there really is no other festival like it. The setting speaks for itself, of course, but from a production point of view, it is always smooth, from backline to broadcast, the artists are always relaxed on site and the shows sound tremendous, thanks to the very hard working sound coordinator, David Weber, and a plethora of DiGiCo mixing consoles.

DiGiCo has had a major presence at Montreux for eight years now, providing consoles to all the festival's venues. In the flagship Stravinsky, an SD7 holds court at front of house with an SD5 complementing it at monitor position; in the legendary Music Club (formerly the Miles Davis Hall), it's an SD5 at FOH, and an SD10 on monitors; there's an SD10-24 in the Jazz Club and an SD8 sits outside at FOH position for Music in the Park. Further SD8s, 9s, 10s, and SD11s are also scattered among the Jazz Lab, Rock Cave, and even Montreux Palace.

Two major DiGiCo advocates involved at this year's event were Laurie Quigley and Rob Mailman. Quigley works FOH for Lenny Kravitz, and Mailman (also GM of touring for San Diego-based rental house, Sound Image), does the same job for Carlos Santana.

“For me, it's a case of the wetter the better, as that's what Lenny wants,” smiles Quigley, tweaking a few knobs on his SD7 during sound check. “We've had the curtains taken down for the show. It's a tricky room, the Stravinsky, and Lenny is very particular about his reverbs.”

In line with Lenny's love of old school kit, Quigley carries a plethora of classic outboard on the road, and also uses the internal processing within the console, which he rates highly. He is also a big fan of the snapshot function on the SD7. In fact, he is adamant that he couldn't do the show without them.

“I am still very hands-on with the console, one because I love to mix, and two, because there's too much going on during a Lenny show not to be hands-on,” Quigley explains. “But because so many channels are not being used on certain songs, having the snapshots is a godsend, and the facilities on the SD7 are fantastic for that; I basically snapshot the mutes and faders, so I'm not changing the effects sends on every song.”

“I hope they put the curtains back in for my show tomorrow night,” says Mailman, with a half smile. Mailman is also on an SD7, and has been for some time. “We have a strong relationship with DiGiCo at Sound Image, and I love the versatility of their consoles. Everything is where it needs to be, you can operate it as you would an analogue board very comfortably, and the sound quality is also phenomenal.”

It's fast approaching show time and, before heading back into the Stravinsky, Quigley warns us that “it might get loud”. It does. Very. At one point, the console looks like it's floating as the audience is jumping and the dBs are rising, fast. Lenny's set is absolutely banging, and during his encore, he even finds time to make it up to FOH to share a moment with his touring team, much to the crowd's approval.

As the last chords of Are You Gonna Go My Way? ring out, and the crowd begins to disperse, Quigley is half squinting. He shakes his head, and breaks into a wide smile.

“I told you it'd get loud, didn't I?”

DiGiCo right in control at Montreux Jazz FestivalDiGiCo right in control at Montreux Jazz Festival

3rd August 2015

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