Paul Kelly’s Making Gravy
by Cat Strom.
Photo Credits: Ashley Mar
Next time there’s a drought anywhere, just book Paul Kelly for an outdoor concert.
Many of us saw the footage on social media of the Melbourne leg of Paul Kelly’s Making Gravy tour where extreme flooding resulted in the ground stacked speakers floating away from the stage. Punters were advised during opening act Mojo Juju’s set to vacate the venue’s grassy hill and seek shelter to avoid being struck by lightning.
Shortly after that, water gushed down the steps, with drains quickly blocked and front row audience members standing in mid-calf deep water and Mojo Juju forced to stop mid-song. As the speakers bobbed around in water and crew frantically tried to rescue them, attendees were told to relocate from the Bowl to the GA section, while organisers decided whether or not it was safe to proceed.
Around 7:30pm the show recommenced, with Alex Lahey performing at 7:45pm, two hours after she was initially scheduled to go on. Consequently every following act’s performance had to be shortened.
The next day at Sydney’s Domain, it was Groundhog Day with thunder, lightning and incessant rain. Doors were held for close to two hours leaving many queuing in the rain and again, all performances were cut short. A week later, the show travelled to Brisbane’s Riverstage and again the lightning, thunder and rain followed.
The concept of the Making Gravy show started in 2017 when Paul did a fairly extensive tour through November and December culminating with a show at Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl with guest artists all celebrating Paul’s ‘Christmas’ song Making Gravy. In 2018 the theme was expanded with shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, the latter coinciding with the date December 21st as mentioned in the song.
Greg Weaver has been Paul’s FOH Engineer/Tour Manager since 2002, saying he has loved and enjoyed every minute of the ride. He likes to refer to himself as ‘platform agnostic’ when it comes to choosing audio equipment, which on this tour was supplied by JPJ Audio in Melbourne and Brisbane with Eighth Day Sound supplying Sydney.
“All modern PA systems are fantastic and quite similar, to me the sound of the band comes much more from the band and less from the PA,” commented Greg. “I like the sound of L-Acoustics and if I had to pick one particular PA, it would be that.
“We had L-Acoustics K1 and K2 in Melbourne and will have V-Dosc in Brisbane, while in Sydney we have a d&b J line array which is also a super high quality system.”
The d&b system in Sydney comprised a main left and right hang of 12 cabinets per side, plus a third outfield hang of 12 cabinets for stage left where there’s a large amount of audience.
Added to that were three separate delay towers of d&b J, eight cabinets per hang. Added to that were various front fill for the people in the VIP area at the front of the stage.
Sydney’s Domain is a large space to cover and is demanding in terms of stringent noise restrictions.
“Because of this, I sought the advice of Colin Ellis, in my opinion Australia’s greatest live sound guy, about his experience in The Domain with Midnight Oil. He said it was extremely challenging but they were able to get the show done.”
“There’s a quite a lot of PA with a lot of array processing going on within the amps to try trim the sound so it is directed to specific areas of the space as opposed to spraying off into the ether,” said Greg. “The biggest issue that I find is that the noise readings are instantaneous as opposed to averaged out over a period of time,” said Greg. “Last year we played the SOH forecourt which has a similar restrictive noise policy but they do have the advantage of having a noise policy where the sound level is averaged over five minutes.”
There was one piece of gear that Greg did specify and that was an Avid S6L, which he also used for last year’s tour. “The console is now even more mature than it was in 2017,” he noted.
“It’s a great sounding console although I’m still coming to terms with some of the changes in the work flow with the Avid S6L. However, I’m sure if I spent more time on it, I’d overcome those challenges.”
Greg insists that he doesn’t do anything special with the mix saying they are all amazing musicians resulting in great sound coming off the stage. “Basically I just mic them up,” he asserted.
“People often ask me about doing sound for Paul Kelly and it’s basically just sound reinforcement for incredible source material. There’s no musical wrangling or fighting between the instruments on stage, and the vocalists are all good, strong confident singers.
“I don’t use anything too fancy on the Avid S6L; a couple of reverbs for the drum kit, a reverb for Paul’s vocal plus a delay I use on particular songs, another reverb for the backing vocals, and a reverb I use on certain songs for a guitar effect.
“Previously I’ve only used all the onboard plugins in the Avid S6L, but this tour is the first time I’ve used the Waves plugins with it. The Waves plugins were very common on the Profile but they weren’t compatible with the S6L last year.
“I’m using a lot of the Waves plugins for EQ and so on, on the S6L for the first time on these shows. All the plugins I had regularly used on the Profile for years I was able to bring over to the S6L. There was a bit of teething with transferring presets and I had to rebuild some plugin settings.”
Microphones are standard Shure and Sennheiser models; SM57 on snare and guitars, Beta 58s on all the vocals and KSM32 for overheads. They only tour the vocal microphones and again, as the source material is so great and constant, changing mics around doesn’t make a massive difference to Greg.
On monitors was Gordon Wood with an Avid Profile console running a traditional monitor set up of only wedges and no IEMs. He said it was all pretty straightforward and everyone had their own mix. The band is always set up quite close, irrespective of the stage size, and always the same distance apart.
From CX Magazine – February 2019. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues – available in print and online. Read all editions for free or search our archive www.cxnetwork.com.au
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