Coldplay, hot tour, even hotter sound


The allusion to the French Revolution is well made. With its heady mix of heroism and a very human sense of common purpose it works at many levels for a band that likes to wears its heart on its sleeve. On Coldplay's current world tour they may not brow beat like Bono, but they know how to transmit a message. Costumes imply the Sans Culottes, but the word is an altogether deeper and subtler issue.

Getting the message heard is what front of house engineer Daniel Green has always tasked himself with. "Mainly I concentrate on finding a sense of space within their music," he said in an interview back in 1995. "I do a lot of reverb and delays that gives its own space, especially the reverb on the vocal." That bigger voice comes from the d&b audiotechnik J-Series he's carrying for the tour, a migration from their last outing, but a change made with due and careful consideration. "Wigwam gave us the opportunity to compare two systems, what we used on the last tour together with the d&b J-Series. We made the test at Lite Structures, a good big rehearsal space that was ideal. We took a Digidesign Venue with our show on it and were able to make a real test." Green and his system engineer Tony Smith made the decision to use the d&b, "the J-Series system is a bit more Rock" said Green. "The stereo image is wider: there's more finesse in the system. The subwoofers are definitely better."

Smith agreed Green's choice, with some specific observations. "I had used the J-Series before, on George Michael's stadium shows last year." Another outstanding success for Wigwam, George Michael's show received plaudits for the sound from mainstream newspaper critics all over Europe. "The system is easy in that you put it up and it works." Continued Smith. "There's no negatives about it from that perspective."

Such was the demand for tickets that the show plays to some very large houses. "In the bigger arenas we play 270° to audience so I hang main; side; and rear; pairs." Said Smith. "With six J subwoofers flown alongside the mains; I must say I agree with Dan about the J subwoofers, they were the first thing that caught my eye. For fills around stage I have d&b Q10s and Q7s, and also have four B2-SUBs on the floor in infra mode to extend the bass range." With such coverage demands Smith avails himself of d&b's Remote control software.

For Green the challenge is delivery. "There's nothing unusual up on stage at all; guitars on Shure SM57s, vocals on radio SM58s, 421s on the Toms." Will Champion on drums is a renowned heavy hitter. "Inevitably there is a lot of spill from the drums into Chris's mic, so I do spend a lot of time riding that up and down. Getting level from Chris can be tricky, but I know the songs well enough to capture what's needed."

Green captures the spirit and essence of the band extremely well. If you want to experience the Coldplay revolution the tour plays the US till mid August serviced by Eighth Day Sound, with three European festivals squeezed into the first days of July. Thereafter it returns to Europe using Wigwam once more, where the band play stadium and arena shows through the remainder of August and all September, culminating in home coming shows at Wembley Stadium on the 18th and 19th September.

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