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DiGiCo proves its worth for Liam Gallagher
Worldwide – In October 2017, former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were. The record went straight in at number one in the UK, and went gold in its first week, outselling the rest of the top 10 of the UK Albums Chart combined. It has since been certified platinum. Though the record is outstanding and has received much critical acclaim, Gallagher is in his element in the live arena. The guys responsible for helping make that happen are FOH engineer Shan Hira and monitor man Jon Simcox, both of whom are dependent on their DiGiCo mixing consoles.
It was when playing in bands as a young man that Shan developed an interest in the technical side of the music industry, which began in the recording studio.
“I was fascinated by recording and took an interest in what was going on; that's where my love of mixing desks and outboard was born,” Shan explains. “I then got a job as an engineer at a recording studio, and began recording local bands, which then progressed into doing live sound for them, and consequently for other bands.”
Shan has only ever wanted to do FOH sound since then and he has clearly got a knack for it: his client roster includes an eclectic mix of major acts such as The Chemical Brothers, The Streets, and Lily Allen.
Both Shan and Jon are big DiGiCo users. Over the course of working with Gallagher, Hira has used pretty much every console DiGiCo has ever put out, from the compact SD11 to the flagship SD7 and everything in between. On this arena tour, he was using an SD5 supplied by Skan PA running at 96kHz.
“I have been using DiGiCo desks for a few years now, so I know my way around them pretty well,” Shan reveals. “It’s a very flexible surface and enables me to put all my ins and outs exactly where I want them. I find it a quick surface to get around.”
Shan is running Snapshots – just for his mutes and faders – and uses the console’s internal FX with just a few old favourites by his side.
“There are some very decent effects in there, but I do also like to bring some familiar outboard with me: I am using an Avalon 737sp, and two engines of a Lexicon 480L on Liam’s vocal, plus an SPX 2000 on the snare.”
Jon started working (for free) for a local PA company when he was just 15 years old as a general dogsbody, out of the Robin Hood R&B club in the Black Country.
“I was a third man, stage patcher, as you can imagine; then one day the monitor engineer didn’t turn up, so it was up to me to have a go,” Jon smiles. “Since then, I’ve always done monitors. Although at some point I have ended up having to mix FOH once or twice for most bands I’ve worked for over the years, I’ve always seen myself as a monitor engineer first and foremost. I think they’re two very different skills.”
At the monitor position, Jon is running an SD10, again at 96kHz.
“The desk was recommended to me by a friend who’s used one for a while (Dan Speed, monitor engineer for Biffy Clyro, also a Skan client), and I'd heard great things about the functionality and the macros, how good the stereo imaging is for IEMs and how transparent the pre-amps are. I was sold after our first day in rehearsals.”
Like Shan, Jon uses the internal FX from within his DiGiCo.
“I’m using around ten internal FX and with a bit of tweaking, EQing and side chain compression, they sound great. No outboard needed at all for me. It’s not a particularly complicated gig, so I use macros for specific fader/send/mute changes in seven or eight songs.”
This is a proper rock & roll setup. On stage, Gallagher opts for wedges over in-ears, all with just vocal, slap delay, and a bit of reverb pumping through them. Loud stage, then?
“It's ear-splitting up there,” confirms Jon, with a laugh. “But the fact we carry our desk, band in-ears, and mics everywhere means their mixes are very consistent from show to show, so that helps. We spent a lot of time rehearsing before the campaign started – around 12 weeks – so they got pretty true representations of the songs. And live, the sound definitely comes across a lot rawer and punkier than the record. That's probably down to Liam's maniacal aura on stage, though!”
“The DiGiCo consoles were a solid choice for Liam Gallagher, as they are on so many of our tours,” says Skan’s Chris Fitch. “Despite owning 19 SD Series consoles, we rarely see them, such is their popularity. The only downside of using a DiGiCo at FOH on this tour is their seemingly magic ability to attract beer being thrown by the enthusiastic crowds!
“It’s been a real privilege for Skan to work with such an iconic performer and to support his fantastic engineers, Shan and Jon.”
Liam and co. are currently out in South America, playing shows in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, and will be returning to the UK for a string of festivals in the summer.
26th April 2018
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