John Fogerty’s tour found FOH engineer Felix Brenner (left) and crew chief/system engineer Mike Mordente working in a wide variety of venues, including the Hollywood Bowl. NEW YORK, NY—John Fogerty wrote classic after classic while he led Creedence Clearwater Revival, then kicked off his own revival in the 1980s with the seminal Centerfield solo album. Today, he’s still on the road with longtime audio provider Schubert Systems and a high-powered band that includes his son, Shane, on guitar and vocals and session legend Kenny Aronoff on drums. The six-piece spent the summer playing everywhere—casinos, Newfoundland’s Salmon Festival, a fly date in Hawaii, and household-name venues like the Hollywood Bowl, to name but a few.
“It’s been varied,” confirmed Mike Mordente, crew chief/systems engineer. “That’s why we carry what we carry; it’s probably more than what we need, but that gives me the flexibility to change things around on a daily basis.” For Mordente, that meant he and PA tech Fred Lichter looked after a full d&b audiotechnik line array system based around a J Series rig for the mains, V Series for sides, J-Subs and a half-dozen Q Series boxes used as front fills. Most of the time, the system got quite a workout; on other occasions, like a night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the rig stayed in the truck, as the production opted to use the venue’s JBL VerTec rig with QSC power instead.
Out at the house mix position was Felix Brenner, Fogerty’s engineer of the last eight years, touring with a DiGiCo SD10 console for the first time: “I’d been mixing John on a Profile all this time, and after trying a few things, the DiGiCo seemed like the best way to go—big surface, sounds great, broad frequency range, very transparent.” While there were only five people in the band, more than 50 channels were coming off the stage, so Brenner found himself using the desk’s Touch to Fire function—initiating scenes via the console’s touchscreen—between songs: “I don’t like to have a lot of open mics, but to mute and unmute would take up all my time, so I use scenes. They’re pretty simple—minor fader movements, some effects and returns and mostly muting as needed.”
While he was new to the desk, Brenner had the SD10 dialed in after three shows—which was fortunate, as Fogerty is very hands-on about his sound, often wandering the room during sound-check while the band plays. “Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from him because he has a great ear,” said Brenner. “He’ll stand in the tenth row and might punch his chin, which means he wants more crack in the snare. When he gets it, he gives the thumbs up. At first, it was kind of scary—I’d never had an artist stand next to me, ask for changes and actually know what they were talking about! I really respect that about him.”
Over at stageside, monitor engineer Josh “Biggs” Cohen, aided by monitor tech Michael “Cochise” Hernandez, handled a monitor rig controlled by another SD10 desk, mixing for a slew of in-ear monitors as well as 20 d&b M2 wedges—nine for Fogerty alone, who also uses in-ears as the mood strikes—and a side-fill system comprised of three d&b J8s with a J-Sub on each side of the stage. “Our stage volume is pretty loud,” Brenner deadpanned. “Kenny hits really hard, John’s amps are up and we’ve got a massive side-fill set-up; we could turn it around, face it out to the house and be pretty close to a PA system. The stage is often times over 100 dB and I’m trying to keep it to 100 out front, too. If we aren’t careful, we can work against each other, but we’re on top of it and so is John.”
Capturing the band nightly was a variety of microphones, with Aronoff playing into a selection of Shure SM57s and KSM137s; Audix D2, D4s and D6s; AKG 414s on overheads; and his own personal Lewitt MTP 440 DM, used to capture the snare top just so.
Meanwhile, all keyboards ran through BSS DIs, and most vocals were grabbed with hardwired Telefunken M81s, excepting Fogerty himself, who belted into wireless Shure KSM9s while his various guitar amps were captured via Audio-Technica AT4050s. “John did a shootout a few years back with pretty much every mic conceivable, and landed on the AT4050,” said Brenner. “It’s a very large diaphragm condenser mic—super high-fidelity, so you get tons of low-end, tons of high-end. Everything’s there bigger, brighter, better all around.”
While Brenner had plenty to do mixing the show every night—Fogerty and the band typically played around 27 songs over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour concert—he was also recording the gigs. “We post them online,” he explained. “I have an Apogee Quartet and output a board mix to it plus two audience mics, so I’m constantly monitoring what’s going on in the house and what’s going with the recording via headphones. Afterwards, I go back and mix in audience mics, do a little editing and mastering job every night and post that online.”
When it comes to ensuring the recordings have a bit of atmosphere, it helps that the audience mics invariably capture crowds wrapped up in the moment, singing along like a sixth member of the band. “It’s non-stop when he plays,” said Mordente. “It’s hit after hit after hit after hit—they just keep coming. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, as soon as you hear the hook, it’s like ‘oh yeah, I know that one’—and everybody knows every word to every song.’”