United Kingdom (June 1, 2022)—Simple Minds just wrapped up the first leg of its long-awaited 40 Years of Hits Tour, an 80-show trek that only got nine dates under its belt in 2020 before the pandemic derailed those plans. Undaunted, the purveyors of epic rock landscapes and omnipresent hits like “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” are back and now partway through a world tour that will see them play 80 shows across nearly 20 countries. Along for the ride is the band’s longtime audio provider, Britannia Row Productions.
The first leg included a homecoming concert at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro, and for that and the rest of the arena run, Brit Row provided SSL desks at FOH and in monitor world, alongside a sizable L-Acoustics’ K1/K2 PA system.
FOH engineer, Olivier ‘GG’ Gerard, who joined the Simple Minds audio crew in 2008, chose a Solid State Logic SSL L200 to create the band’s live mix, striving to get as close as possible to the album version of each track. He explained, “If I can’t emulate the record for one reason or another, I’ll at least try to replicate the signature sounds of each song, along with its specific dynamics and sonic color palette. I try to respect the time and hard work they put in during the studio sessions, but obviously this is challenging when you’re working with 40 years of music ranging from rough and punky to new wave to rock. It takes a lot of programming and research.”
Helping create those varied soundscapes, GG gets 56 inputs on stage and has a pasel of effects on-hand, including TC Electronic, Bricasti, and Lexicon reverbs, an Empirical Labs Distressor, a BSS DPR 901 dynamic EQ, an Avalon preamp / compressor, and an SSL Fusion processor.
“Simple Minds Vocalist, Jim Kerr, uses a Shure Beta 58A, as that’s what he’s most comfortable with,” GG added. “In terms of the PA, I need to trust whoever is looking after it. In this case, our system engineer, Dan Fathers, is completely reliable. He understands what I want, gig after gig, despite us not having had that much time to prepare.”
The L-Acoustics system is based around a K1 main hang with K2 for downfill and sidefill. He’s deployed flown KS28 subwoofers behind the main arrays, KS28 on the floor, A15s for outfill, and A10s for lipfill. The system is driven by LA12X amplifiers. “We’re flying the subs in cardioid to try and prevent noise or sub bass on stage because the band don’t really like it, and the same goes for the ground subs,” Fathers said. “We’ve just started using the new update on Soundvision, which has given us a lot more control over the mid to low end in K1 and K2. This is very handy for this tour, as GG is not a massive fan of low end in general.”
At the side of stage, monitor engineer Mikey Gibbard was also using an SSL L550 console, and pre-built his mixes using live multi-tracks from GG before the crew went into three weeks of production rehearsals. “Bar a few tweaks here and there, they were all happy straight off the bat,” he reported. “They’re more like FOH mixes than monitor mixes, with a few nuances, like each player’s instrument being slightly louder. It’s great to listen to, so it’s great fun to mix.”
Gibbard eyes 10 IEM mixes plus six d&b M2 wedge mixes—two for the stage right guitarist, one in mono for the bass player, and three spot wedges for the stage left guitarist to achieve feedback during solo sections (due to all guitar amplifiers being replaced by Kemper modelling technology). He’s also carrying a couple of outboard reverb units—a TC 4000 and a Bricasti M7—alongside seven on-board reverbs from the desk, plus two delays and a handful of transient shapers and dynamic EQ.
The audio crew is completed by Gibbard’s monitor tech Daniel Ibanez and system techs Richard Trow, Eiran Simpson and Meg Clement.
With the first leg done, the next one starts in just over a week with two sold-out shows in at the OverOslo Festival in Norway. Production manager Glen Thomson commented that Brit Row’s team made the first leg a pleasure, noting, “I’ve used Brit Row for every tour I’ve done in the last 10 years. On every level, from just supplying a control package for an opening artist, to the full arena system, they have always given the same first-class service and attention to detail.”