Amy Macdonald

Story and photos: Steve Moles Discovery PR & Management Services Ltd

Production:

Despite the occasional one-off here and there, Amy Macdonald has, after an extended absence from the live stage, filled her diary for 2017 kicking off with a lengthy tour of Europe and the UK in the Spring and following up with an exhausting round of festival appearances from May through September. Britannia Row Productions supported the tour throughout, providing a full touring package in the Spring, with reduced crew, control and monitors for the festivals.

“Including all the European shows, which we did first, the Spring tour was a good six week run and then quickly moved on to the festival season,” said Production Manager Steve Down. “In Europe we did a wide variety of venues in terms of size so we needed flexibility and relied upon local providers for PA. With just one truck we carried a minimal lighting rig; mostly it was back line and monitors. For the UK we had an extra truck full of PA from Brit Row. After those early shows, having the PA for Tom Wiggans our FoH Engineer, was a luxury, but he still did a great job in Europe.’

“Tristran Farrow influenced the choice of Brit Row, Tristan has a great reputation for delivering with a loudspeaker based monitor system and this show is very monitor driven. As it happens he had to leave us to fulfil a prior booking with Jamiroquai so now have Jamie Hickey, who has worked for Amy on and off for many years, so he’s a known quantity. It was Jamie’s good fortune to arrive just as Amy decided to give IEMs another try and stuck with them. Brit Row did Amy’s last arena tour so there is familiarity there and Eiran Simpson, Brit Row’s stage technician, was on that tour and has been with us all the way through Europe; he’s a really great tech.”

 

FoH

Like Down, for Macdonald’s current FoH engineer Tom Wiggans this was his first tour with a Brit Row system. “Richard Trowe, my system tech’ is awesome,” Wiggans said after just two shows. “It makes such a difference having a good tech’ when you are working with the complexity of modern systems. In Europe, we had local systems everywhere, these systems are supposed to be almost fool proof these days but there is still a big difference between people who know the basics, and a tech’ like Richard who really know how to get the best out of a system.”

Britrow provided a Kara based system for the UK leg. “I’d generally spec’ L-Acoustics,” said Wiggans. “I still like to go out and system tech tours myself from time to time, just to keep up to date; the last time was Morrissey two years ago. If you don’t get involved once in a while how will you know what is and isn’t possible. Kara was a great system for the UK leg, light weight, you can always fly loads of it.”

Tom Wiggans FOH

Macdonald is well known for her distinctive voice “She is a tremendously loud singer as well, which is great for me. Unusually I’m using a Shure 58A for vocals: I’ve been a convert to the DPA D’Facto since I tried it on Travis a couple of years ago but this is what she was already using when I first started with her. She was happy, it works, why change? After the tour in Europe where everyone used wedges, she has now taken the leap into IEMs so the stage has become much quieter. The band is a five piece, guitars, bass, drums and keys, plus a multi-instrumentalist and they all sing backing except the drummer. I’m using lots of DPA 4099s on the kit, Toms, Hi-Hat etc… and a 2011c in the kick with a Shure 91. Back line is very minimal, bass guitar on an Avalon E5 DI, Radial J48 for the acoustic guitars. Our multi-instrumentalist uses a Kemper. The Fender twin is mic’d with a 57 and a KSM32. When I discovered the DPAs I immediately found I could switch off the gates and EQ on the drums and just use a hi & lo pass filter. That led to a much more harmonious relationship with the drum tech who spends two hours tuning the kit each day. He was much happier because I wasn’t stamping all over his tuning with EQ. It cheers up the drummers too. It’s like everything else, get all your onstage sources right and you’re starting from something good.”

Mons:

A freelance operator, Jamie Hickey grew up working with David Gray. “That’s where I first encountered Brit Row, back in 2007.  Later they gave me work on the Young Voices concerts: Mark Kennedy was mixing out front on a PM1D, I was using a PM5D with a DSP 5D for monitors. I had seventy-eight inputs from stage and the first time I needed to use the desk I pressed all the right buttons and…nothing. It was a complex set-up so I quickly ran through everything and tried again -still nothing. That’s when I got the ‘is everything all right there Jamie?’ You always feel a bit vulnerable on your first gig for a company but the Brit Row guys were great and thankfully it was nothing I’d done wrong; a firmware upgrade was needed. That was a great lesson to learn about the company; nobody thought any the less of me and they’ve kept asking me back. I work with other companies of course but I really like what Brit Row does and for this tour it’s nice to reconnect with the guys. Eiran Simpson the stage tech from Brit Row has been here right through since the tour kicked off in Europe and stayed with us for all the festivals. That’s time well spent, he’s invaluable.”

Production Manager Steve Down agrees: “As with so many tours, doing the job well and fitting in are equally important; Eiran does both. For me it’s my first tour with Brit Row apart from a brief stint on Emili Sandé; they are really good people.”