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Jimmy Barnes Soul Searchin’ tour saw one of Australia’s favourite singers hit the road throughout August to celebrate the release of his Soul Searchin’ album. The all-new album follows Soul Deep (1991), Soul Deeper (2000) and The Rhythm and the Blues (2009) which have earned more than twelve ARIA Platinum Sales Awards between them.
Audio for tour was an all Kiwi affair with Leon Dalton of Global Production Partners FOH and Mike Cole doubling up as production manager and monitor guy.
Leon has worked on and off for Jimmy over the past twelve years either doing FOH or monitors. On this tour inhouse PA systems were used with an infill package toured.
“There’s always emphasis on Jimmy’s vocal,” Leon clarified. “We also toured the control package with everything supplied by JPJ and a couple of their guys including Joel Pearson who is a fantastic butler and makes great cocktails.”
This production was very different to a Jimmy Barnes rock show with thirteen people onstage and Leon and Mike had to work hard to keep everything under control.
“It’s a very dynamic show but at the same time you can’t mix it like a rock gig as it’s a soul gig,” he said. “The audience is more diverse than a normal Barnes rock gig so it’s just catering to mix for everyone, not just the hard core Barnesy rock fans.”
FOH Leon mixed on a Soundcraft Vi6 console multi-tracking everything onto a laptop. Leon used nine effects engines including reverb and delay on Jimmy’s vocal, reverb and chorus on the BV’s and brass, plus different reverbs on the snare drum and toms.
“To be honest Jimmy’s voice is really easy to deal with,” commented Leon. “There’s very little EQ on his voice, everything is done in the system and his vocal is flat with a compressor on it and that’s all. I’m not really one to hack things on channels, it’s more about tuning the PA and getting everything sitting right. Everything should naturally sound great out of the box as they’re all great musicians with great sounds – I’m just there to make it louder!”
Leon tactfully remarked that the Nexo system in the Enmore Theatre was not his favourite but fortunately Joel had done hundreds of shows in the venue and knew how to get the best out of the PA.
“It’s quite difficult mixing under the balcony – you’ve got to mix very low end and low mid-heavy for it to sound anything like it should in the auditorium,” Leon said. “It’s finding that compromise. When the sound check started today I thought ‘oh dear’ but Joel suggested I walk out into the auditorium and it sounded fine. It’s a little bit challenging and a good idea to stick your headphones on.”
Leon explained that this show was all about control of noise and that Mike had worked hard onstage to bring down the stage volume from a normal Barnesy rock show. To do that he has smaller powered L-Acoustics boxes and a lot of in ears to bring the stage volume down as well as adding Perspex around the guitars. The result is that if you’re sitting in the front row you don’t have a guitar pinning you to your seat!
For several years Jimmy has used a KSM9 as his main vocal microphone with Mike saying that they have always swayed towards Shure mics because of familiarity, ease to get and being able to keep things consistent.
“On this show 90% of the mics are Shure which has a lot to do with my familiarity with them,” said Mike. “We know they’re reliable, tried and tested stage microphones.”
Onstage there were ten sets of Shure PSM1000 IEMs chosen purely because Mike says they are the most reliable at getting all the frequencies to work together. The majority of the stage monitoring was taken care of by the fourteen L-Acoustics powered 108P’s as well as a drumfill wedge and a pair of wedges for Jimmy.
Mike was mixing monitors on a Yamaha PM5D which he says does the job and is reliable however he is reaching the maximum output of what he can do.
“It’s a console that does twenty-four sends and we’re running twenty-six sends off it using extra outputs,” he said. “The band can’t grow and stick with that console. The reason we have stuck with it is that it had to be something we can easily hire on the other side of Australia when we can’t get a truck there.”
Mike admits that once soundcheck is done and dusted, there’s actually very little he has to do.
“It’s just a matter of watching people making sure they are content on stage,” he added. “As we have managed to keep the stage volume right down and have so many on IEM’s, it doesn’t require much change going on. There are a few bits and pieces where there are duets going on that I need to keep an eye on otherwise, as long as I’ve done my job properly before the show, it’s a baby sitting job and just making sure everyone is happy.”
Simon ‘Junior” Johnson has lit Jimmy for a few years now and this time round he has kept the lighting design fairly simple as Jimmy had requested a more traditional looking sixties feel.
“We also decided to keep to a simple colour pallet of red, bue, magenta, amber but absolutely NO green – that was the strict brief!” said Simon. “I’ve gone for a more static look with very little live movement.”
Naturally Simon wasn’t too enthusiastic about touring a whole bunch of Par cans especially as they usually didn’t load in until midday. Instead he decided to use Robe Robin 100 LEDBeams giving him the ability to create more looks whilst still ensuring a Par can feel.
Joining the twenty-four Robe Robins in the roof were fourteen LightSky Extreme Beams for ACL type Beam shapes, 18 duets because no Jimmy show would be complete without a few blinders and a row of MMX Spots along the back.
“The MMX allow me to up light the back drape, silhouette the band and a little bit of movement in the air for the last couple of songs in the set,” explained Simon. “The Robe Robin 100 is probably one of the better fixtures that Robe have made.”
Simon was running an MA Lighting MA2 light console with an MA2 command wing and a fader wing as a backup.
With no production rehearsals prior to the tour, the ease of the MA2 platform allowed Simon to build the basics offline giving him a good head start and as much programming time on the first show.
By Cat Strom
Photos: Troy Constable
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