Blues legend John Mayall recently embarked on a 25-date tour of the UK, taking two Yamaha digital mixing consoles for FOH and monitors on his travels.
Supplied by Weymouth-based Atlantic Audio, the FOH sound for both Mayall and his support act The Oli Brown Band, is mixed on a Yamaha M7CL-48, with an LS9-32, with an LS9-32 handling monitors.
Claude Taylor, who undertakes the duties of being Mayall’s manager, tour manager and backline tech, also works as the star’s FOH engineer. Sharing the M7CL with Mark ‘Scooby’ Widdowson, system tech and FOH engineer for The Oli Brown Band, it soon became clear that multi-tasking would be a key feature of the tour.
“Mark and Dan (Parry, monitor engineer) are really good,” said Taylor. “Mark sets everything up while I run round, put the bands in their hotels and so on. Dan does monitors for both bands, we all help each other out.”
Many of Mayall’s live shows use house systems, so Taylor regularly has to mix on whatever console is available. However, on this tour the gear travelled with them, providing him the opportunity to select a particular desk.
“I’ve used the M7CL before in various venues and I liked it, so I was happy to specify it for this tour,” he said. “It’s good for me because you have all the advantages of a digital console, but I have to mix the show on the fly because of John’s unorthodox style of grabbing the microphone and singing through the harmonica. You're riding the faders every song, often it’s virtually every couple of lines - you've got it up for the vocals, you've got it down again for the harp and then back up again.”
“John will bring everybody down and then he'll throw solos out. Or all of a sudden you could get a drum solo or a bass solo and you never know when they're coming, there's no set pattern.
“Another advantage is that I can have everything on the same page. I haven't got time to skip to another page and alter something quickly and then switch back, because I’m constantly having to ride John’s faders. The knobs also mean that I can quickly tweak a frequency - a high out or a high mid out and then bring it back in,” he added.
With regards to monitors, Parry has three mixes for each act, all on wedges. “It’s a straightforward setup,” he commented. “The only slightly odd mix is John’s - he doesn't have the wedge facing him, he has it facing out into the audience with just his piano in it. So that’s really loud with lots of high frequencies. It can cause a bit of an issue with slapback off the rear wall in the bigger venues, but it’s not a major problem.”
The LS9 is perfect for this kind of setup, something which Dan recognises. ”Out of all the desks I've used on monitors, I do like the LS9. I like the fact that the 31 band graphics on it are all in front of you. You can get round it very quickly by just using the buttons for the mixes,” he added.
Parry is also using Yamaha’s StageMix iPad app to help set up the monitor system, which is designed to allow quick and easy adjustment from anywhere in the auditorium.
“I saw an engineer at Reading Festival use it and thought it was really, really good. She didn't move more than two feet away from her front of house desk, she was just lying back in her chair using it. I thought it was a very good idea to get an iPad and try it, especially with this tour coming up,” he concluded.