From introspective voice and piano pieces to full-on rock music, with complex harmonies and orchestral-style layering, the music of Rufus Wainwright continues to defy categorization. Such complex material is equally challenging to reproduce on stage, but DiGiCo consoles and XTA processors are well-equipped to tame his music for a live audience.
As part of a lengthy worldwide tour, Wainwright played seven sold-out UK theatre shows in late May, dates at Portsmouth Guildhall and Bristol's Colston Hall followed by five at London's Old Vic. Audio company Concert Sound was using its Adamson Spektrix rig for the first time on Wainwright's shows, with five XTA DP226s controlling the system.
"Adamson specifies the DP226 as its controller of choice," says Concert Sound system tech Aron Ross. "One of the five was used as a master controller at FOH, with most of the EQ also being done in the 226s."
This was a challenging tour for the audio crew, the historic theatre venues not having been designed for the requirements of a modern live music production in mind.
"It was quite strange not being able to fly any of the system," says Aron. "It was all ground stacked and sometimes it was quite awkward as we couldn't put speakers where we wanted to acoustically. We ended up with speakers stacked in places that weren't ideal. As a result I had to re-zone the system every morning. I used all inputs on all the 226s and stretched them to their fullest extent, using as many zones as I could. To be honest I could have done with some DP448s!"
Another challenge was the sheer amount of information in Wainwright's music that the system had to contend with. "From solo piano and vocal, via quite anarchic jazz, to full-on rock, the dynamics are incredible," says Aron, adding with a smile, "You just sort of have to hang on! Real credit has to go to Matt Manasser at FOH. I don't think his job is an easy one."
Front of House engineer Manasser owns the DiGiCo D1 console that he tours with, so he knows it inside out and how to get the absolute best from it, always useful when you're working in acoustically challenging situations. He says the insertable processing channels (IPCs) of the console's output stage are invaluable for such situations. For more information visit www.DiGiconsoles.com and www.xta.co.uk.