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TWO STAGES AND TWO DIGICO D5S AS FOO FIGHTERS TAKE ON THE WORLD‘S ARENAS

As part of a world tour to promote their latest album Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, Foo Fighters undertook a nine date UK arena tour in November, culminating in two dates at the London 02 Arena.
Fronted by the irrepressible Dave Grohl, the band provided maximum entertainment via a complex live show, which included two stages. In order to cope with the ensuing Front of House audio requirements of the show, a pair of DiGiCo D5 consoles were put to use.
FOH engineer Bryan Worthen has been using DiGiCo consoles for three years, replacing the original analogue console he had been previously using with Foo Fighters. “I knew I needed to go digital or I would get left behind, although I fought it for a long time,” he smiles. “But I had to make the leap and it was actually the band‘s management who told me about the DiGiCo D5. It was being used on the Beastie Boys dates and they were really impressed with it.”
Bryan‘s instant impression of the D5 was very positive and since then he has delved ever deeper into its many facilities. “I found the D5 very easy to get to grips with,” he says. “Much of that is thanks to the layout, which is very much like an analogue console. Visually it‘s excellent because it has multiple screens. It makes it much easier to use than consoles which only have one.”
A major reason for Bryan using twin D5s on the tour is because of the two stages, the A stage for the main ‘electric‘ show, with an Electro-Voice X Line line array PA, and the smaller ‘B‘ stage for the acoustic segment. The latter is hidden above the audience in the centre of the venue, being lowered when required, giving an added ‘wow factor‘. This uses a combination of flown L-Acoustics V-Dosc and DV-Dosc with subs mounted beneath the stage.
Bryan‘s concept is to have one console for each stage. However, in practise it‘s not quite that straightforward. “Effectively one desk does the A stage and the other desk does the B stage, but both can feed either PA,” says Bryan. “That‘s because there is a point in the show where I am pulling inputs from the A stage and feeding them through the B stage PA, at the same time as inputs from the B stage are also feeding its own PA!”
The point in question is during the song Everlong, part of which Grohl performs solo from the B stage with the middle eight and final chorus performed by the whole band.
“Dave plays on the B stage by himself with his A stage electric guitar, so his wireless system feeds the receiver and inputs on the A stage. However, he‘s singing into the microphone on the B stage, so I‘m pulling the guitar signal from the A stage and feeding it through the B stage PA with his vocals,” explains Bryan. “Halfway through, the rest of the band kicks in on the A stage, so I bring in the A stage PA and kill the B stage PA.
“There is a lot going on, almost 90 inputs on this show and it‘s quite complicated, but it works out really well. You just need to get your head around making it happen. The crowd goes crazy because they‘re all looking at Dave on the B stage in the centre of the venue and all of a sudden it gets big and loud behind them. Working from two consoles is much less confusing than doing it from one, which is what I tried to do before and it didn‘t really work out.”
But, adding to the complexity, some of the B stage L-Acoustics cabinets are being used as delays while the band is playing on the A stage, as system tech Martin Walker explains.
“We don‘t really need to use the rear stacks of the B stage system as delays for the A stage, but we do because it makes it a bit better for the back seats. So when the B stage is in use we have to fade that delay out and alter the delay times as it becomes the main system. Then, when they finish on that stage and go back to the A stage, you have to turn it back into a delay system. It‘s little bit involved and we certainly had fun working it out, but we get a good result from it, that‘s the main thing. It was the band‘s idea and I think they are actually amazed that it works. The management also seems very pleased with it, so all in all it‘s been a good result.”
Despite the complexity, Worthen is mixing the whole show on the fly, applying good, old-fashioned analogue mixing techniques.
“I have it all in my head, what gets muted and what gets unmuted when, what changes are made here and there. I still mix very much in the analogue style,” he says. “But I think in some ways that means that you can react to the venue and what is going on around you more easily than you can if you have got everything pre-programmed.”
Apart from six Avalon 737s per stage for vocals and acoustic guitars, Bryan is using only the onboard processing of the D5s, which he is very happy with.
“I don‘t use that much, only an autopan on the Hammond organ‘s Leslie cabinet and Dave‘s 12 string acoustic guitar,” he says. “That is pretty much it, unless we‘re in theatres where the sound is really dry and I need to add reverb. But I love the onboard processing. I have no problems with it whatsoever – it sounds good and it does what I want.”
The D5s are also being used to record each night‘s show, a multi-track mix going straight to a Macintosh running Logic. “It all gets archived, put on to hard drives and sent back to Dave‘s studio, where most of it gets used later for odd things here and there,” says Bryan.
“Users are continually pushing DiGiCo consoles further, and it‘s really good to see those like Bryan thinking laterally and demonstrating the complex solutions that the consoles will allow,” says DiGiCo‘s Managing Director, James Gordon.
“We are constantly making the operating system more flexible, so this type of complex setup – which would be all-but impossible with analogue control – can now become the norm, not the exception, on shows with DiGiCo consoles.”

[ENDS]

Press Contacts:

David Webster at DiGiCo
Tel: +44 1372 845600
Email:webby@digiconsoles.com
Web: www.digico.org

Sarah James at Gasoline Media
Tel: +44 1372 471472
Email: info@gasolinemedia.com
Web: www.gasolinemedia.com

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