Snow PatrolReturning to the road after a seven-year break, Snow Patrol took their 2018 album Wildness on a sold-out UK arena tour with Adlib as audio provider, and Nigel Pepper mixing FOH and Jamie Hickey on monitors.

Ahead of the tour proper, Adlib had previously  supplied a small PA and control package for warm-up shows, and had also  worked with both engineers on a tour for the band Foals.

Adlib provided crew, with top systems specialist Sam Proctor and an L-Acoustics system. Proctor was joined by Terry Smith who looked after stage and monitors, plus Aaron Greig and Neil Dodd who completed the audio team.

Snow Patrol

The Snow Patrol tour standard system configuration was 14 L-Acoustics K1 speakers per side, with four Kara for down fill, together with eight K1 subs flown behind the main hangs to help direct the low end towards the rear of arenas. These were supplemented by two side hangs of 12 K2 speakers each.

On the floor were 21 L-Acoustics KS28 subs in a spaced array, with even stacks of three-high subs, each with a single X8 on top for front fill. This allowed each stack to be driven by a single amplifier for tidy and logical cabling. The spaced sub array is Pepper and Proctor’s preferred set-up for getting even and efficient coverage across various rooms. A flown cluster of four Karas – specified by Pepper eliminated the need for any fill – helped to keep the stage completely free, being both an acoustic and an aesthetic decision.

All speakers were driven by L-Acoustics’ LA12x amplifiers, and all processing managed at FOH via an Outline Newton multi-source processor – fast becoming an Adlib standard. Proctor optimised his workflow to put the Newton at the centre of the processing operation, handling all the delays and EQ for each zone of the PA, as well as being a front-end matrix mixer to get all consoles into the system.

Nigel PepperPepper has mixed Snow Patrol since last touring in 2011, and specified the L-Acoustics system following a long history with the brand. He is not trying to replicate the recorded music in a live context, rather to deliver a mix that is truly ‘live’ and bursting with energy and detail.

His console of choice is a Midas ProX, run with a selection of outboard. One of the many reasons Pepper feels so at home with the ProX is because he cut his engineering teeth in an analogue world, and this console has ‘really excellent’ sounding mic amps and EQ, and quick and responsive physical input to the faders. He stresses the importance of being able to ‘feel’ the mix’, and the necessity to have quick and direct access to all the parameters he uses constantly like snapshots.

With up to 100 inputs, he finds the console suits this style of mixing, with the colour coding another important part of its customisation. The aim is to keep the mix clean and simple.

There are distressors on lead singer Gary Lightbody’s vocal and across the bass group, with Tube Tech valve compressors for ‘crunch’ effects on acoustic and electric guitars, and dbx compressors for additional punch and impact, harking back to the Midas XL4 days. ‘Compression is really important to me, especially for those sections when I’m mixing right up to dB limits’ he says.

Pepper used UAD plug-ins for the first time on this tour, which he likes – especially the extra distressors which can ‘glue everything together’. ‘Some of the old-skool things sound very nice. As well as great reproduction, you can actually hear so distinctively what they do.’

Gary Lightbody

He multitracks the show each night, which is used for virtual soundchecks, effectively replicating the real musicians and show volumes to give a good representation of what the mix will do in a venue and how the acoustics will interact. ‘The band are great to work with’ he reports, adding that he receives plenty of input about what they want, and are extremely vocal about what they don’t, as well as being receptive to his suggestions and ideas. ‘You definitely know where you stand.’

Gary Lightbody uses a Sennheiser SKM5200ii RF transmitter with a DPA D:facto capsule for its brightness and clarity of the mic is important. His vocals sit high in the mix and it’s vital to the audience experience that they hear the lyrics clearly.

Hickey worked with Adlib initially in 2012 with the Liverpool-based company as his audio vendor, and then in reverse role the following year as part of the technical team for the Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium – a gig serviced by Adlib for the past several years. ‘That was the start of a beautiful relationship’ he reports.

Pepper highlights Adlib’s ‘nice approach’, the fact that the system is ‘scalable and flexible’ and the ‘outstanding service and technical knowledge’ in addition to the fact that ‘all of the Adlib crews genuinely love and understand music which makes a massive difference to attitude, enthusiasm and getting a great sound for the artist’. He reckons that Proctor delivers a very ‘musical’ sounding PA every day. ‘They all work extremely hard as a team and are passionate about what they do’ he concludes.

With the band having not toured for seven years, some of the initial focus was dedicated to finding the newest technologies to suit their monitoring needs, for which Jamie received carte blanche to suggest and trial. He is using Sennheiser 2000 IEMs, and there are five band mixes plus a spare. Additional mixes include a guest mix, five tech mixes, a management mix and a cue mix.

Snow Patrol

With 88 inputs coming from the stage, Hickey’s desk was a DiGiCo SD7, which he ran with 32-bit input preamp cards. He likes saying ‘yes’ to artist’s requests – and for that he needs plenty of power and headroom. Hickey says ‘the SD7 is the best thing out there right now. It’s rock solid and has never let me down.’

Adlib created one of their famous ‘stage wardrobes’ for the shows, made to Hickey’s specifications. This accommodated 48U of pre-wired stage racks and power distro in a quickly deployable format, so Terry Smith had just three cables to connect between the console and the wardrobe.

Hickey reports that the challenge at the stage end of the Snow Patrol equation was literally ‘doing monitors’. The band are all very experienced with ‘high standards’. ‘They are very straight-up, but they have certain standards that have to be met’. After establishing this, it was down to him to evolve and make it a seamless process.

He echoes Pepper’s comments that the band are great people and personalities and remarks on the high level of respect between band and crew. Hickey concludes that working with this Adlib crew left him free to concentrate on doing his primary job of ensuring the band had the best possible gig every night.

Adlib supplied a full touring mics-and-stands package for the two opening acts together with a support monitor system and two Midas Pro2 consoles.

More: www.adlib.co.uk

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