The Church

future – past – perfect

 The Church Live at Norwood

By Stephen Dean

One of Australia’s Iconic bands is currently touring Australia with the Future Past Perfect tour and they are The Church. This is a band that has been around for over 30 years and are still going strong with their take on good quality, intelligent aussie rock. This show is a celebration of this band and its music, as they play 3 of their iconic albums in a 3 ½ hour show. The band consisting of Steve Kilbey, Marty Willson-Piper, Tim Powles, Peter Kopples, with special guest Craig Wilson.

The venue that they picked in Adelaide was the historic Norwood Concert Hall. This is a rather beautiful Art Deco venue, with a pretty live sound. This venue can also be a challenge for a bump in. As the hall is on the first floor. You can either carry the gear up a few flights of stairs, the disabled lift, or a cage up the side of the building.

Church on stage

Set Up

This tour the band travelled light, picking up PA’s in each of the places they visited. In Adelaide they used the services of Australian Lighting and Audio Technology to supply a quality PA that was perfect for the venue. The band is supported by small travelling crew that consisted of: Tiare Helberg – Tour Manager, Robin Danar – FOH Engineer, Wes Gregorace – Stage Manager, Aaron Giffen – Stage Tech, Shaun Gaida – Drum Tech, Trevor Johnstone – Lighting Tech.

And the local crew was Marie Docking – Norwood’s venue tech, Peter Aztalos – system owner/tech and Chris Stedman – foldback engineer.

This system supplied was a EAW KF 730 Line Array with SB730 subs. In addition to the SB subs there were also 4 ARX KA118 subs to cover the middle of the venue. The whole system was basically run as a 4 way system. These were an run on EAW UX8800 processors via the U-Net protocol driving a whole bunch of Powersoft K10 and K6 amplifiers. There were also 2 lip fill speakers and this duty was done by a pair EAW JFX260i boxes driven by another UX8800 and a Powersoft 4004 amplifier. Foldback was taken care of by 8 ARX215 boxes with modified horns; these were driven by another pair of EAW UX8800 processors using Powersoft K6 and 4004 amplifiers. The drummer also wore a set of in ears monitors.

The FOH task was completed on a Allen and Heath iLive T112 driving via a digital snake an IDR 48 and the foldback desk used was an Allen & Heath GL2800M-48. The Whole PA was ground stacked as there are no rigging points in the venue for flying a Line array.  The mics were a pretty standard affair of: Kick – Beta 52, Snares – SM57’s, Toms – Audix D2’s and D4’s, OH & HH –  Audix F15’s, Guitar cabinets – Audix D3’s, Vocals –  Beta 58’s & OM 5’s and various DI units the band bought with them.

Allen & heath GL2800M

So how did it Sound?

Well it sounded great. This audio that Robin pulled from this system was stunning. The PA sounded great anyway and had been really well tuned by Chris before Robin arrived. But in Robins hands it was a magical sound. When you look at Robin’s credentials you will see why The Church picked him. He is a guy that understands their music and aurally it showed. The audience that were present had a real treat. The Church has as a band a unique sound and the mix captured it. The audio was crisp and none of the voices or instruments was masked. This is a show about the music; you could close your eyes and let the sound wash over you. The mixing was one of the best I have heard, the musicians were on fire, and Robin picked up on this and the room rang with the amazing sound that is the church. They cover 3 albums from 3 eras that all had different sounds. All music styles were handled well and came across to the audience and at Norwood were very appreciative. It was also mixed at “nicely” loud volume without tearing your head off. You felt it without pain.

EAW KF 730

The lighting was traditional in a way, there were no moving lights. It was pars can, fresnels and profiles. The lighting by Trevor was a natural complement to music. It was not flashing patterns and sweeps into the audience. It was there to illuminate the music and the band, to create moods. Understated but striking. The lighting was designed and operated in a manner so as not to distract from the music. The lighting desk used was the venues own Theatrelight console and it certainly was up to the job.

So if you get a change at any time and The Church is playing near you, I suggest you open the wallet and fork out a few bills to see them. It is worth your while.

QUICK PROFILE

Robin Danar – The Church Engineer

Robin was picked by the band for his credentials. He has mixed for the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Lauri Anderson and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. Well I managed to sit down and have a quick chat with Robin.

Working with the Band

He has found it interesting to work with these guys as they are a dynamic group, so mixing is not just a set and forget job. It attributed to almost like jamming with the band. He feels his task is to blend the band, he is all trying with the band to achieve a slightly more edgy and powerful sound than the CD’s. The music does remain static it is continually evolving. It is not necessarily the quality of the console that is important, but the music. It is the arrangement and structure; it is about capturing what the musicians are trying to communicate to the audience, and then getting that across to the audience, whether it is live, an MP3 or CD.

On this tour since they are not carrying a console it is a cold walk up every day, with a new console to learn. This was his first time using an Allen & Heath iLive Console. Because every console is different especially digital consoles, he found it great to have someone on hand to assist. Robin likes to lay out his console in a certain way. He also carries copies of all of the show files from the various digital consoles that he has used. This gives him a reference point from where to start. He finds that when working with people that are putting in that extra effort are really valuable and are helping with his process of mixing. More time is required to set up his working surface and this were he finds that a venue or system tech that knows the gear is worth their weight in gold. He certainly appreciates the effort other people put into a gig to make his task easier, and he does let them know.

Robin also feels that digital consoles are great, but the time needed to set them up can often be more than analogue consoles.  And if the unmentionable happens and the consoles loses everything then it is going to take a long time to get a show up and running again on a digital console.

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