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Adlib in Overdrive
UK – Adlib supplied lighting, audio, production and crew for the highly festive ‘Christmas with the Overtones’ tour, renewing a long term working relationship with the popular five-piece harmony group.
This was among the highlights of a number of shows and tours wrapping up a fantastic year for the Liverpool-based rental and production specialist.
Adlib’s audio team was led by the talkative and charismatic Mario Leal, one of the company's many talented engineers who was tasked with getting the CODA PA fine-tuned and sounding crisp each day for the band’s FOH sound engineer Mark Clements. Paul Allen was the ever brilliant tour and production manager steering the ship.
The PA was specified by Mark and monitor engineer Cristiano Vuolo, explained Mario, and he, together with account handler Dave Jones, all worked together to ensure everything was co-ordinated smoothly and efficiently.
Mario can hardly contain his enthusiasm for CODA: “It’s the best sounding system I’ve ever heard,” he commented on the ViRAY which was chosen for the main arrays, particularly because of its suitability for theatre and academy type venues, where its power and expedient size make it an excellent touring option.
They also played some large concert halls, where they had the flexibility to cover the extra space.
A typical set up was 12 ViRAY left-and-right with three sensor-controlled SCP subs a side on the floor (six in total), together with six TiRAY front fills, which as the smaller version of the CODA line array worked perfectly to fill any sonic gaps.
Mario also covered the balconies with extra CODA C712 loudspeakers in some of the bigger halls, and this approach was especially useful when audiences were sitting behind the PA when the balconies curved all the way round to the sides of stage.
The whole system was driven by 20 of CODA’s proprietary Linus 10 amps, which, were set up and aligned utilising LINUS Live software which gives full networked control over the amps and the arrays, with the EQ and zoning taken care of in Mario’s Lake control rack.
Mario has a lot of experience and practical knowledge of working with the CODA system, having used the brand extensively on various Adlib projects including comedy show Mrs. Brown’s Boys, a year-long full arena stint where they could really listen to and start understanding the acoustic philosophies and properties.
He immediately noticed the clarity and the throw that was achievable with CODA’s proprietary driver technology. Speech was crucial on that tour with 12 lavalier mics on stage and everyone needing to hear everything exactly as it was. All of them loved the precision of the CODA. He also worked with a system on Placebo’s 2016-17 '20 Years' tour, which confirmed that it was equally as awesome when delivering a loud, raw, rock show.
“The mid-range is simply amazing; I have never heard clarity like this before, you can hear absolutely all of the details.”
When he knew they would be touring ViRAY on the Overtones, he was delighted.
The big challenge. for both audio and lighting, was that they had only one truck for everything including backline, so extra care was taken to pack the truck tightly and safely.
The small dimensions and light weight of the CODA speakers were critical in this scenario, enabling them to take an appropriate PA without monopolising truck space.
Mario was the only audio tech on the tour, so he again he really appreciated the smaller, lighter philosophy of CODA, together with its straightforward rigging. “I have no issues at all building the arrays on my own or with the assistance of one of the stage crew.”
Adlib supplied two Avid Profile consoles for the tour for FOH and monitors.
The Overtones used an eight-way Sennheiser SR2000 IEM system from Adlib, there were no side fills, keeping the stage clean and clear, and for atmosphere they added four of Adlib’s new MP5 wedges across the front.
Two Adlib MP4 subs were allocated to the drummer and the bassist, with the third shared between the guitarist and keyboardist, who were positioned adjacent to one another onstage. It wasn’t mega loud onstage, but this added nice levels of a bit of kick and bass.
They didn’t tour a specific monitor tech, so Mario was kept busy, but – always positive – he reveals. “We had a couple of days production rehearsals at Capital Studios in London and that was enough time for us to start the tour in really good shape.”
It was his first time working with the band, and an experience he thoroughly enjoyed for the friendly environment and the overall vibe. “All very professional but absolutely lovely people,” he summed up.
Lighting designer Neil Holloway has worked for The Overtones for around six years, and on this run collaborated closely with touring operator and lighting director, Tess Minor.
Their starting point was the show file from the last tour, from which they took some of the classic signature looks which work flawlessly for certain moments. They mixed them up with a crop of fresh and new looks crafted for the show, which encompassed a number of global Christmas hits and favourites!
Neil had to specify a rig that would fit in a tight allocation of truck space so this was the galvanising aspect, as the brief was – as always – to create something special and cool.
He chose fixtures that were multi-purpose, offered many options and would give them plenty of latitude for all of the different sized venues and stages on the itinerary.
Tess was also working with just one technician and even though that was Tom Webber – known for his award nominated talents – designing something that could be built sensibly each day by two people was another consideration.
The decision was made to go with a single back truss and utilise the house rigs for front and key lighting, available at 95% of the shows.
Hung on the back truss were five Martin MAC Viper profiles and six MAC Aura LED washes which provided lots of variety. They also had two ProLight Solar 36 LED washes, used in conjunction with another two on the floor, to illuminate a series of custom gauze banners at the back created by Back2Front.
Neil likes to light from the floor for the dramatic angles and dynamics, so another four Vipers were on the deck, a fixture Neil loves for the size-to-weight ratio and ability to go from “massive wide zoomed out looks to tightly tapered super-bright beam scenes”.
Another eight Auras were deployed up and downstage, stage left and right for low angled side washes, and six MAC Quantum Washes on different height Manfrotto stands were set up in an arc around the back of the set risers, nicely filling the space between the back truss and the floor fixtures.
Being a festive tour, there was a load of festoon and six Christmas trees with integral lights positioned in a similar arc to the Quantums on stands. Far upstage, behind the gauze banners, the visual picture was finished with a black wool serge drape.
A grandMA2 light with an onPC as backup were utilised for control.
Adlib also supplied the risers, a set of mid-stage steps and all the relevant dressing to make it look chic on stage.
Adlib’s lighting account handler was Dave Eldridge, who ensured that everything ran smoothly from the warehouse end.
“Adlib’s people are all absolutely impeccable. They do an incredible job, have great personalities and I am very happy to work with them whenever possible,” stated Neil in conclusion.
photos: Steve Sroka
23rd January 2018
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