Canegreen Keeping the Ghosts Awake

Eventbiz, Apr'17, 2003

Canegreen supplied the pa to Placebo this spring, who have taken to the road with a 54 date tour across Europe promoting their fourth album, ‘Sleeping with Ghosts’.

Placebo’s Front of House engineer, Ian Nelson, has worked with Canegreen over previous years and explained that was keen to use the EAW Line Array system on this tour.

“I have heard all of the line arrays in the market and I believe the EAW system is the only system that really punches for a rock band. I also think that the SB1000 is the best sub I’ve ever heard.” 

The live sound certainly bears out Ian’s claims. The audience could hone in on every aspect of the live performance if they desired, but the overall sound carried punch, clarity and dynamics to reflect the bands performance. 

Derek Mcvay, Production Manager, explained that he and Tour Manager Steve Chapman had spent a lot of time preparing for the tour so that everything was spot on from day one. 

“As a production manager I come into contact with lots of suppliers, there is lots of equipment available, but I have been very impressed with the back up and service from Canegreen. It sets them apart. We have dealt with Richard (Martin) back in the warehouse and Pete (Hughes) and they have really got involved in the tour. We’ve made quite a few changes over the weeks leading into the tour and they have been totally supportive.” 

With a tour taking in such a range of venues Derek was only too aware of the challenges facing the production crew. Commenting on the EAW Line Array Derek said: 

“I am very impressed with the EAW Line array. On a tour such as this, taking in a wide range of venues from small 500 capacity clubs through to 4,500 seaters, it is great that this EAW system works as a ground stack or flown, so we can very easily reconfigure it for every venue and get a great sound.” 

The front of house speaker system was comprised of 16 EAW KF760 Line Array cabinets and 16 SB1000 sub bass cabinets, with four EAW KF761 down fill cabinets. All were driven by Lab Gruppen Amplifiers, with a Yamaha PM1D digital console at the helm! 

Ian’s praise of the PM1D console is possibly even more glowing than that given to the EAW speakers. Canegreen invested in two of the digital boards last year and Ian believes they are the future for engineers. 

“They are so flexible and save so much time. The fact that I can store my settings and recall them anywhere in the world on another desk is pretty exciting,” he said. 

Whilst the desk was not being stretched to capacity on this tour, the amount of channels available allowed Ian to use additional ones when he wanted to have fine control over aspects of the Placebo’s sound, filling 41 channels, plus 10 channels of effects returns in total. 

“Frontman Brian Molko came into rehearsals running his guitar through a single Fender amp, but during rehearsals it was decided with him to “add body” to the guitar sound through the pa, so a 2nd (Mesa Boogie) amp was mic’d at side of stage. On Stef’s bass set up, a dry DI is used with an AT4050 micing up the cab to give the hugely effected sound Stef likes to use, as he likes to use effects during the set. Twelve channels were employed on the keyboards. During rehearsals we added additional overhead mic’s onto the kit to add control, we ended up with 4 overhead mics’s running individual compression on each channel, but keyed from the hihat to reduce hihat bleed. The PM1D quite simply gives me all that convenient flexibility,” Ian continued. 

“The result of all of this is that I can ‘nestle’ the vocals back into the band, whereas, live ‘rock’ vocals sometimes need to be separated a bit too far over the band. The definition of the PM1D allows this without compromising vocal clarity.”

The PM1D has digital gates, compressors and effects that can be assigned to each channel, which are set to change the look of the front of house position; the only external effect Ian used for Placebo was a digital reverb that he could manually tap changes into. Gone was the big rack of effects! 

Ian made full use of the PM1D’s onboard equalisation, which he split into 12 matrixes with a 7 band parametric across every output to add some sparkle to the boxes when needed and take out the awkward frequencies”. 

Ian has worked closely with Canegreen’s Pete Hughes, who he has come to know over recent years. 

“Pete and the Canegreen team have been working with me well in advance of the tour and have been invaluable in putting this rig together. It was useful to be able to program the console off line when I was touring the US, email the file to Pete who uploaded it to the console, so that when I arrived in rehearsals, the console was ready to go. 

We’ve tweaked and played with, and tried and tested all these different ideas with the system, some worked, some didn’t, but they have been happy to try allsorts to get the right sound for Placebo. When we’ve brought it out onto the road they’re as keen as me to get this system sounding right for the band. It’s these guys who bring the equipment to life.” 

Monitor duties were handled by Gerry Colclough. He used a Midas XL4 to drive 5 stereo in ear mixes, augmented with side fill subs and a sub / thumper combo for the drummer, Steve Hewitt. Gerry uses some Tubetech valve compression on the vocals and also a BSS DPR901 to compress and expand frequencies that Brian Molko likes to hear in his voice and also another 16 channels of compression to hold back some of the more dynamic inputs such as the large keyboard set up and bass rig. FX are a TC M5000 and 3 x SPX990s.