Photo above: Peter Frampton performing on the final night of his farewell tour (credit for all images: Paige K. Parsons)
Peter Frampton burst onto pop music’s stage over a half century ago with seminal British blues-rock bands The Herd and Humble Pie, and his 1976 LP, Frampton Comes Alive!, remains one of the best-selling albums of all time. So what was billed as Peter Frampton Finale – The Farewell Tour had to be as perfect as possible, and it was, thanks in large part to an amazing sound system.
Tour sound reinforcement provider Solotech put together the perfect rig for the various venues on the tour, which began on June 18 in Tulsa and ended on October 12 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The left-right hangs consisted of 18 K2 loudspeakers each, backed by eight KS28 subs per side, and flanked by outfill arrays of 18 Kara. Additional sound reinforcement came from eight X8 short throw speakers used as frontfills, and eight ARCS used as sidefills, either flown or stacked, depending upon each venue’s requirements. Two dozen LA12X amplified controllers housed in eight LA-RAK II units powered and processed the primary PA elements, while six LA8 in two LA-RAK handled the supplementary X8 and ARCS enclosures.
The September 13 date at New York’s Madison Square Garden saw the K2 hangs moved to the side as new main hangs of 12 K1 boxes per side atop six more K2 were added, as were four ground-stacked KS28, to cover the Garden’s wider stage.
“K2 provides a real blank canvas for my mix,” comments FOH engineer Jim Yakabuski, who has worked with Frampton in that capacity for the past five years and several tours. “I don’t always get to choose the PA that I go on the road with, but when I do, it’s always L-Acoustics. PA systems in general have gotten so good these days, so it says a lot to choose L-Acoustics over everything else.”
In addition to the sound, though, Yakabuski appreciates what K2 offers a tour doing a variety of venues, from theaters to amphitheaters to arenas. “When I was told that we were going to carry our own production on this tour, we looked over the different types of venues and realized that K2 offered the kind of flexibility we needed,” he explains. “Thanks to its light weight and high output, it lets us put more enclosures in the air and cover more seats economically than some other line array systems.”
Frampton himself was already sold on L-Acoustics after he experienced the combined K1/K2 system that Steve Miller took on the road when Frampton toured with him. “Peter just said, ‘That’s it—we’re going with L-Acoustics.’ And we did.”
The K2 system performed flawlessly, says Carter Hassebroek, the tour’s system tech. “This was a stellar band and you heard every note clearly, every show. And that was great because this was a really emotional tour,” he adds, a reference to Frampton’s recently acknowledged illness, Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM), that may eventually rob him of his ability to play the guitar and sing. “Peter’s playing and vocals on this tour were as good, if not better, than ever, and the K2 really let that come across.”
Hassebroek says the system also benefited from the updated L-Acoustics Soundvision software. “I’ve been using Soundvision for years, and as a starting point it really gets you close to where the system needs to be each night, right out of the box,” he says. “I’m usually skeptical of using auto-splay software to set the angles, but this version of Soundvision just gets you there almost immediately, which saves us a ton of time. And the FIR filters for the zones do the same thing, getting us very close SPL-wise, so all we need to do is just tweak the system maybe a dB or two.
“With regard to LF, our goal was to have every note up and down the neck of the bass guitar at an even level, and Network Manager’s Array Morphing tool beautifully smoothed the transitions between the K2 and the KS28. Using the 60Hz cardioid setting on the subs also let us keep the low end on stage under control, so the sound on the stage was a good as it was in the house. It was smooth, front to back.”
Peter Frampton Finale – The Farewell Tour closed out on October 12 at the Concord Pavilion, and it was an emotional moment, one in which Frampton was likely bidding farewell to rigorous touring. Both Hassebroek and Yakabuski recall the poignant moment when, after the last song of the last show, Frampton brought the entire crew onstage to thank them in front of the audience.
“I still can’t believe that I got to be part of that,” says Hassebroek. “It’s the highlight of my professional life.” Yakabuski adds, “We were counting down those last few shows with sad hearts. We didn’t want the tour to end, but Peter played and sang strong to the finish. And the PA system let everyone hear exactly what those last notes were, loud and clear.”
For more details on Solotech, visit: solotech.com