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Live Sound

Blondie Calls Up New Stage Monitors

The classic pop-punk band toured with the latest wedges from Clair Brothers.

New York, NY (February 23, 2018)—With classics like “Call Me,” “Rapture,” and of course “Heart of Glass,” Blondie remains one of those rare bands that glides effortlessly between genres, able to serve up ‘60s Brill Building pastiche like “Sunday Girl” one moment, and punch you in the face with “Atomic” the next. An act that nimble, however, needs crew and gear that moves just as adroitly. Matching the band step-for-step for the last three years is production manager and monitor engineer Robert Nelson, who recently put the band on Clair Brothers 1AM+ 12-inch point source monitors.

An audio pro for nearly four decades, Nelson’s worked with the likes of Tears For Fears, Beastie Boys, Hall & Oates, Boyz II Men, Leonard Cohen, k.d. lang and Gloria Estefan, to name only a few, and while they’re all in different genres, there are certain factors that are constant when it comes to tackling monitors for a star act, he says: “I do my best to stay on top of what they need and to try and make everything happen, within reason and the laws of physics. Compared to a lot of monitor engineers, I keep things simple. If I do any processing at all, it’s modest—there’s only so much that processing can achieve. The real weak link in most monitoring situations is the monitor wedges themselves; all the crazy processing in the world can’t fix a lousy wedge.”

Blondie Tours UK with Milo

Owning more than 20 Clair Brothers 12AM wedges, he recently visited Clair Brothers to expand that inventory with “some lightly-used 12AMs, but then they demoed the self-powered 1AM+. I was impressed by its volume and clarity; I was impressed by its smaller size and manageable weight; and I was impressed by the fact that it’s self-powered. Like I said, I like to keep things simple.” After sleeping on it, Nelson decided to spring for a dozen of the new Clair Brothers 1AM+ wedges.

For the band’s tour behind its 2017 album, Pollinator, Nelson mixed the band’s monitors on a Yamaha QL5 console, sending mixes to frontwoman Debbie Harry via two 1AM+ monitors at centerstage. Meanwhile, every other band member had a single 1AM+, and the drummer’s 1AM+ was additionally paired with a Clair Brothers self-powered kiT-Sub+ 18-inch subwoofer. For large stages, Nelson placed a 1AM+ on either side of the stage so that Harry had coverage when she moved around.

One way or another, the monitors achieved exactly what Nelson needed for the tour: “The finish is nice looking, and the casing is solid. Perhaps most importantly, the band is happy, and that’s my ultimate goal as a monitoring engineer.”

Clair Brothers •