Story: Kate Lyon
Photographs: ©2018 Todd Kaplan
For Josh Groban, two months hard touring through North America in the Fall was followed by a whirlwind sprint through some scattered corners of Europe. With Christmas day already in sight, Groban played arenas in London and Manchester in the UK, Dublin in Ireland, and Krakow, Poland, all in the space of seven days. Possessing the pipes of an opera singer, Groban’s voice takes centre stage, the main reason why production manager Zito focused his attention on sound. “I have to admit, going into this project the biggest concern I had was audio. The audio needs are very demanding.”
Demanding they might be, yet with Groban an established Clair Global client, Zito had reason to be assured. “Marlow ‘Mikey’ Beck is Josh’s mix engineer and prefers an L-Acoustic system,” said Zito, “The K2 and Kara combination proved a good choice.” Zito belongs to that exclusive group of production managers who are equally at home behind an FoH desk so that’s no idle opinion.
“When I spoke to Clair account manager, Todd Johnson, he assigned the tour contract to Britannia Row Productions who, I know from my own experience, have a long and deep association with L-Acoustic systems. From the moment we loaded into rehearsals back in October it became obvious that, while the concern was warranted, the crew was all over it.”
Lez Dwight, who managed the contract from Brit Row’s main office in London, selected the crew, “In the last eighteen months we have done a lot of work in North America and recruited a significant number of excellent US techs. By happy coincidence I put in Michael Mordente as system tech’ who, as it turned out, was already highly rated by Mikey Beck.
“That sealed it for me,” said Zito. “I judge the quality of a crew by how little I have to interreact with them! Lol. There is some truth to that. A great team knows what needs to be done and enacts the right plan. I literally never had to worry about the Brit Row crew, they got the gear in, got it up and got it done. I never got any calls to handle issues with audio, it was terrific from my standpoint…”
To maintain that satisfaction, Mordente was flown over for the European leg. “We needed that consistency,” said Zito. “We had limited rehearsals, so we had to get up and running quickly. That decision meant less pre-production and set-up days and was a general cost saving to the tour. Once we talked through everything on the first day of rehearsals, I never even thought about it again.”