Photo: Todd Berkowitz
British pop/soul/R&B vocalist Jessie Ware has been making rounds in Europe and North America at festivals and mid-size concert venues since the August 2012 release of her debut full-length album, Devotion (Island Records). For her fall 2013 tour of North America, Ware and her band—Dornik Leigh (drums), Joe Newman (guitar) and Alex Bonfanti (synth and bass)—have been traveling with front-of-house engineer Johnny Dodkin and monitor engineer James Livingston.
The tour is carrying a Midas PRO2 digital console for monitors, and Sennheiser and Beyer mics, while using house-provided FOH consoles and P.A. systems. Ware sings into a Sennheiser wireless mic with a 945 capsule. “Her vocal has a lovely rasp that other mics don’t really grab as well as the 945,” Dodkin says. Onstage, both Ware and Newman use Akai MPD26 USB/MIDI pad controllers to trigger background vocals and loops. Leigh also cues loops from Roland drum pads. “For this tour, the entire band have gone on in-ears,” Dodkin says. “I have put the guitar amps offstage and turned them up a lot louder [than they] had been onstage. This has made all the inputs cleaner: The clean guitar signal doesn’t affect the vocal, and the drums in turn don’t affect the guitar signal.”
When using Avid consoles at FOH, Dodkin uses Waves V9 plug-ins, including the C4 Multiband Compressor, Renaissance Compressor, Renaissance Reverb and SuperTap delay. “I also carry a Waves MaxxBCL [hardware processor], which I use over the mix bus to really finish it all off.” Dodkin says the FOH mix is about “Jessie’s vocal mainly, but her music is really warm and soulful. The rhythm section is the main backbone. Her voice is very powerful so there is always room for her.”