Mark Knopfler recently finished up a summer tour supporting his latest release, Shangri-La. Helping out Knopfler onstage was Richard Bennett (guitar), Guy Fletcher (organ/piano), Matt Rollins (organ/piano), Glenn Worf (bass) and Chad Cromwell (drums) — all of whom have played with Knopfler since 1996. Midway through the tour at Berkeley, Calif.'s Greek Theatre, Mix caught up with Knopfler's front-of-house engineer, Robert Collins, who has worked with the artist since the early '80s — first as system engineer and later at FOH.
Sound was provided by Concert Sound for the European dates (including an EAW 760 rig) and Audio Analysts for the North America dates. In the U.S., Knopfler and band were heard through a JBL VerTec array with up to 20 VT4889s per side. “We normally have 12 on the main hang and eight on the side hang,” Collins explains, “with six VT4880 subs per side, three VT4887s per side, ground-stacked, and two VT4887s for front-fill. These all run from Lake processors and Crown MA5002 amps.” Systems engineer and “right-hand man” Dave Dixon round out the crew.
FOH engineer Robert Collins
Collins uses an Audio-Technica 4055 on Knopfler's vocals. “I found it suited Mark better, and ended up using A-Ts on all the band vocals,” he says. “My FOH console is the DiGiCo D5, running about 60 inputs and the normal outputs: left, right, front-fill, delays. We were also digitally recording every night onto AMD 64 using Nuendo. The interface with the D5 via MADI was a dream. I use a TC M6000 digital reverb processor, a great unit, and a Summit TLA 100 on Mark's vocal, which I like as a quick grab by my side. Everything else is done with the D5.”