Florence + The Machine returned to Australia in January for a string of national headline dates. Having released their fourth album, High As Hope, just last year, fans were clearly eager to catch these stunning tunes live, with almost every show on their Australian tour having sold out months in advance.
FOH engineer Brad Madix is currently on his first tour cycle with the band having started rehearsals last March. Brad, an award-winning, Grammy-nominated live, broadcast and recording engineer, has had an illustrious career working with artists such as Linkin Park, Rush, Jack White, Beck, Van Halen, Shakira, Alanis Morissette, Jane’s Addiction, Shania Twain, Def Leppard, and many more international acts.
JPJ Audio were the audio supplier with the tour utilizing a Clair Cohesion Series PA assuring uniform coverage in all venues regardless of acoustic challenges or sightlines. This was certainly put to the test in Australia with the show being held in arenas, outdoor venues, as part of a festival and also a Day on the Green.
“I would say a typical set up would be 16 x CO12 deep, left and right, and then six subs per side with 12 CO8s for outfill,” said Brad. “However, that changed day to day on this tour due to the variety of situations we were in.”
“I’m very happy with the sonic characteristics of the Cohesion Series,” he added. “Their sub system is particularly great, even though this is not a sub heavy band. I also have a great working relationship with Clair and continuity of people and equipment is important to me as we travel around the world.”
Brad was mixing on an Avid VENUE S6L with no outboard gear and only the plugins that come with the console in use. He was recording on a Diablo Digital xMacPro Server Pro Tools recorder.
“I use the Pro Compressor plugin a lot as well as the BF76 and for effects I use Mod Delay III and ReVibe II and that’s pretty much it,” said Brad. “I try to keep it simple. Florence is an excellent singer but can be tricky to mix because her voice is extremely dynamic. The main thing I have to do is compress her in a way that it doesn’t sound compressed whilst keeping the level in a certain ballpark. I use two instantiations of Pro Compressor, one is a really hard compressor but it is blended back and second one is a DeEsser because that can also be tricky with her. Effects on her include a warm, dark reverb (ReVibe II) and a little delay which we actually feed back into the reverb instead of the PA resulting in a long tail reverb.”
Brad remarked that his main challenge is getting a lot of dynamic range to fit into a large scale performance. In Sydney, Florence + The Machine played to 28,000 people in The Domain and everyone needed to hear everything. No mean task, but as every performer is a great musician and singer, Brad could really focus on the levels of Florence’s vocals and the quality of the vocal sound.
“JPJ were great and it’s weird to say this but it was seamless, you didn’t really notice the change from venue to venue as everything was handled with no hiccups,” added Brad. “The guys were really friendly too so I was very happy.”
Photos: Brad Madix
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