Live Sound

All Access: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Interview with audio engineers and live sound crew on mixing audio for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 2008 tour. Tips, techniques and equipment applications from front of house (FOH) and monitor mix engin 11/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds deliver the songs from their new album, Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!, with the same dark conviction that infuses Cave's signature songs, such as “The Weeping Song” and “The Mercy Seat.” Cave is riveting with his "demented preacher demanding your soul" persona, and the band sound rocks in a way that monitor mixer Simon “Davros” Blanch calls “chaotic, in a good way.” The vibe in the freshly refurbished Warfield Theatre (San Francisco) was anything but church-like as Cave and his powerful group of multi-instrumentalists led fans into the disturbed narrative world of Lazarus.

Front-of-house engineer Matt Crosbie mixes on a Midas XL4 console provided by sound company PRG (Las Vegas). This Nick Cave tour was one of the first to make use of the new mix position at the historic Warfield. Whereas the FOH console used to be installed in the theater's balcony, mixing is now done from the center of the ground floor. Tour production manager Peter Arsenault says the new position is “a good trade-off. The board is a bit close to the stage, but mixing in the balcony was logistically very difficult.”

Cave sings into a hard-wired Shure Beta 58A. His monitors of choice are Nexo PS15 wedges, and Blanch says he gives him a mix of his own lead vocal, drums and “instruments that carry the melody that he needs to pitch off of.” Other bandmembers use L-Acoustics 115XT HiQ wedges. “There is nothing wireless on our stage,” Arsenault says simply.

The Warfield's P.A. was also replaced as part of the remodel; the Cave crew were pleased to take full advantage of the new Meyer Sound MILO rig installed by Pro Media/UltraSound. The new cabinets comprise line arrays of 10 MILO and one MILO 120 loudspeakers each, left and right. Low frequencies are covered by four 700-HP subwoofers per side under the stage; three additional 700-HPs are centered to cover upper-balcony. The under-balcony is served by six M1D line array loudspeakers. Two CQ-1s per side provide-front fill, and a Galileo loudspeaker-management system is used for system drive and processing. “The coverage was outstanding, right up to the back row of the balcony,” Arsenault says.

Monitor mixer Simon Blanch, better known as Davros, is mixing on a PRG-provided Yamaha PM5D. “It's a most accessible board, and Yamaha electronics are always reliable,” he says. “And I like the digital recall. Nick's wedges blew up one night in Chicago, and I had to replace them on extremely short notice. I was able to pull some old settings from a library to facilitate the new setup.”

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