P.J. HARVEY - Mixonline

P.J. HARVEY

In what P.J. Harvey has described as one of her favorite cities and venues, her two-night stay at San Francisco's The Warfield at the end of October was
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Vocalist/guitarist P.J. Harvey sings through a Shure 57 and adjusts her own processing. "She uses Boss distortion and delay, which she does herself because she knows what she likes," says monitor engineer Nigel Fogg.

In what P.J. Harvey has described as one of her favorite cities and venues, her two-night stay at San Francisco's The Warfield at the end of October was spent before an adoring audience. This is her second time playing in the States this year (she played small clubs to kick off this tour and is now hitting the theater circuit) after playing in the UK, Europe and Australia.

Front-of-house engineer Tom Marshall is using a Midas Heritage 3000, employing 34 inputs and another four stereo ins for effects returns. “We're not touring with a speaker system,” Marshall says, “but I carry my own FOH effects and processing and a full monitoring system: desk [another H3000], processing, wedges and side-fills. We pick up the P.A. system in each city.” For the Warfield date, Harvey and band were heard through a V-DOSC rig (eight per side: five hung and three floor) with Meyer 650 subs (four per side and two flown centrally).

FOH engineer Tom Marshall

In Marshall's outboard rig are Drawmer DS201 noise gates (two drum kits) and BSS DPR 404 compressors (kick, snare and bass channels). On Harvey and Josh Klinghoffer's guitars, Marshall uses dbx 160Xs to slightly compress the harsher end. “I also use a dbx 160X inserted on a group to handle the backing vocals,” Marshall relates. “For P.J.'s extremely dynamic voice, I use a BSS DPR 901 to smooth out the high mids and then finish it off with an Avalon AD 2044 for overall vocal compression. For effects, I have two [Yamaha] SPX-990s [one for drum reverb and the other for vocal effects], a TC M2000 [for occasional instrument/background vocal reverb] and a Lexicon PCM 81 [on Harvey's vocal reverb].

Top: Dingo, bass/keyboards

Bottom: Rob Ellis, drums/keyboards

“Most of Polly's songs are guitar-driven, so I mix with the guitars on top, followed by the bass and drums. Of course, I keep the drums as big and punchy as I can, but without it becoming a traditional drum-heavy ‘rock’ sound. Most importantly, I keep P.J.'s vocal on top. That's why you go to a gig: to hear an artist sing clearly and to be excited by the music without being hurt by the dB level or painful frequencies!

“What comes off the stage is very raw and intense, and my job is to create a big and exciting sound without taking any of that energy away. Everyone on this tour has been great, especially Nigel [Fogg, monitor engineer], who knows more about touring and P.A. systems than I could ever know.”

Monitor engineer Nigel Fogg is also using a Midas Heritage 3000, using the desk's 36 inputs and 10 outputs. He doesn't employ much outboard gear — relying only on Klark-Teknik digital EQs, BSS Audio compressors, Drawmer gates and a Yamaha SPX-990 — to keep it simple.

Josh Klinghoffer, guitar/drums

“I've been working with P.J. for nine years, so I know the music very well,” Fogg says. “She can mix things up a bit, but I'm familiar with it all. She's on wedges and Future Sonics in-ears so she can go back and forth during a show if she wants to.”

Top: Ellis' drum kit is miked with Shure 91 (kick), Beta 52 (kick), Beta 56 (snare top), SM98A (snare bottom, rack tom, floor tom, ride), SM81 (hi-hat), SM57 (floor tom) and SM31s (overheads).

Bottom: Rob Ellis' keyboard setup, which includes a Yamaha SK20 and Roland RS-50, sits next to his drum kit to easily switch between the two rigs.

Vocalist/guitarist P.J. Harvey sings through a Shure 57 and adjusts her own processing. "She uses Boss distortion and delay, which she does herself because she knows what she likes," says monitor engineer Nigel Fogg.

Rob Ellis' drum kit is miked with Shure 91 (kick), Beta 52 (kick), Beta 56 (snare top), SM98A (snare bottom, rack tom, floor tom, ride), SM81 (hi-hat), SM47 (floor tom) and SM31s (overheads).

Rob Ellis' keyboard setup, which includes a Yamaha SK20 and Roland RS-50, sits next to his drum kit to easily switch between the two rigs.

Monitor engineer Nigel Fogg

According to monitor engineer Nigel Fogg, the Yamaha QY20, which Harvey plays in "Reeling," is a little writing drum machine that she uses for beats and melody sounds. The QY20 goes through a Boss distortion pedal and a BSS direct box.