Roger Waters’ Us + Them tour has been touring North America armed with a 10-piece band and a DiGiCo SD7 console, operated by monitor engineer Matt Napier.
The former Pink Floyd frontman has been treating sell-out audiences to tracks from the band’s back catalogue including hits from Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Animals, and Wish You Were Here, among others.
Napier started working with Waters last year for his shows in Mexico and Desert Trip. Waters’ previous engineer, Ian Newton, unfortunately passed away a few years ago, so it was an honour for Napier to fill such shoes.
“I felt a lot of responsibility to do Ian’s memory justice, and make the gig work as smoothly as possible,” said Napier. “We didn’t have a lot of rehearsal time, so it was intense, but the shows went really well. You just have to do this music justice.
“The surround system installed in each venue makes the aural experience very immersive for the audience, and the visuals are absolutely stunning. Roger really is the captain of the ship, and steers its direction, but he allows the musicians to explore their creativity and add their own flavour,” he explained.
With 10 people on stage, Napier needs to utilise 130 inputs (many of which are stereo), 21 mono auxes, 16 stereo auxes, three mono groups, seven stereo groups, 32 matrix inputs, 14 matrix outputs, and 24 control groups.
I keep playing with other consoles, but the SD7 is still the only really serious choice for a show of this complexity."
– Matt Napier
“I keep playing with other consoles, but the SD7 is still the only really serious choice for a show of this complexity; and actually, it’s not just about the channel count,” Napier remarked. “The SD Series sounds fantastic, too, and the flexibility of the SD Racks and SD-Mini Racks, the redundancy, and user flexibility means nothing else comes close. I also have two SD Racks dealing with stage inputs and IEM outputs, and a Mini Rack, which takes care of some analogue inserts.”
To help deal with the vast instrumental setup, Napier uses 53 snapshots on his SD7. “I run them all in ‘relative’ mode so that any changes in soundcheck can be adjusted across the board,” he explained. “All the snapshots are fired via SMPTE. All the music is live, but we also have a lot of sound FX running for the surround PA, which I also feed into the IEM system.”
Napier concluded: “Due to the massive visual element and video content, the SMPTE is always running. It’s actually a godsend for me, as once programmed, I can let the snapshots/SMPTE control all the mutes, major level changes, guitar changes, vocal mics; that frees me up to actually listen to, and actively mix the show for Roger.”
The North American leg runs until October 29th, and the Us + Them tour will descend on the UK and Europe in 2018.