d&b loudspeakers in the Labyrinth.
Making a successful and credible leap from X-factor winner to bona fide live performance artist was always going to require skill and support, both in human and technical terms. In May this year, Leona Lewis chose Sheffield Arena to introduce the Labyrinth Tour to the UK; provincial enough not to be in the glare of London based critics but big enough to accommodate the undeniably ambitious production that was designed to showcase her debut to large scale live performance.
For technical expertise in the audio domain Lewis chose the combined talents of Wigwam Acoustics and FOH engineer Kevin Pruce (Madonna, Duran Duran). They in turn, elected to use a d&b audiotechnik loudspeaker system to optimise Lewis’ unquestionably dynamic vocal talent.“ All the d&b stuff just sounds good straight out the box,” said Pruce succinctly.
The system comprised a combination of J-Series loudspeakers with Q10s used for front fills; J-SUBs on the ground providing the low end muscle. As Pruce points out, "The different d&b loudspeaker series all sound very alike so you can integrate different elements to suit particular requirements; you wouldn’t hear a difference walking from the field of a Q10 into the Js." On this tour Lewis’ signature vocal gymnastics made Pruce’s priorities clear, ‘Her voice is quite a challenge; she’ll cover a very wide dynamic, from a low whisper to a shout, in a single phrase; so it’s tricky to chase her around and keep her above the band mix.’
Ant Carr (Monitor engineer) who has worked with Lewis before needed a twofold solution for this particular production. “Leona and her band were on a stereo IEM mix while the dancers and aerial artists kept in time through d&b M4 monitors. In addition, each band member had a local d&b Q-SUB with additional J-SUBs underneath the down stage area.’ Like Pruce, Carr is very aware of the range of Lewis’ vocals, ‘Having done some shows with Leona already I knew I had to pay special attention to the power of her voice. Jumping into arenas for your first tour isn’t easy so we’ve worked together to get her used to the environment.’
Critical feedback in the media has been generally positive in both popularist and industry reviews; all appear to agree on one thing, while Lewis’ vocal talent is spectacular, she has still to develop as a polished live performer. The polish will come; meanwhile good engineering and a solid production carried her through.
With acknowledgement to TPi for some of the editorial content and for the photographs.