The Cure played 46 concerts in 22 countries across the continent with audio reinforcement from long-time rental partner, Britannia Row Productions.
“Exciting, powerful and dynamic” is how The Cure’s FOH Engineer Paul Corkett describes the band’s latest sonic offering.
Continuing a relationship that has lasted decades, Brit Row, part of the Clair Global group of brands, provided equipment, crew, and international support for the recent tour, which was led by Production Manager Phil Broad.
To achieve the desired sound, I use one delay for vocals, but no other FXs from my console. I hardly use any compression – when the band play hard, Robert wants the audience to really feel the dynamics of the songs and the performance of each individual musician, Corkett explains.
When looking for the right choice of desk, Corkett turned to trusted colleague, Systems Engineer Colin Burrell. “Colin and I have worked together since 2011, and he has a fantastic knowledge of consoles and PA systems. He’s a great engineer himself, and together we decided that an Avid S6L was the next logical step at FOH, with me having previously mixed on an Avid Profile. It was important for the desk to integrate with Avid Pro Tools, as I record to three Pro Tools rigs; one runs at 96Khz to enable virtual soundcheck, while the others run at 48Khz. All of our show files are archived, and Robert himself mixes the shows for broadcast and social media”.
Sometimes opting for a Waves Maxi BCL for outboard, Corkett explains that within his mix, introducing new songs that hadn’t been played to audiences before was a key priority. “The main set starts from an intro Robert wrote for the band to walk onstage to, he sets an atmosphere that crossfades from ambient rainfall and thunder. The fans want to hear Robert’s vocals and guitars clearly, Simon Gallup’s bass to carry the rhythm and melody, and Jason Cooper’s kit to sound powerful”, he says.
Indeed, The Guardian described the band’s fans as "a devoted multi-generational audience who aren’t disappointed" by this well-thought-out and expertly delivered show.
Completed by guitarists Reeves Gabrels and Perry Bamonte, with Roger O’Donnell on keyboards, Corkett also notes that “together, the textures from each band member create huge depth, and that really becomes The Cure’s signature sound”.
Corkett, who has been with the band for many years, suggested that Robert Smith try a DPA D:facto for his vocal mic a decade ago, a move that has proved invaluable. He furthers: “He’s still using it because it works so well in terms of rejection and clarity. We have both a wireless and a wired spare”.
For PA, the team opted for a trusted L-Acoustics combination comprising K1, K2, KS28 and KARA II, fine-tuned by System Designer, César López. “César is great to work with, and I leave the science of the PA to him”, says Corkett. “He walks around each venue during the live show and makes any adjustments if the temperature rises or if the ambience changes. Between us, I think we give the audience a great sound”.
Back on stage, Monitor Engineer Rob Elliott notes that The Cure are a loud band. Himself also a long-serving member of the core audio crew; he’s mixed their monitors for an impressive 16 years. As a DiGiCo fan, Elliott had chosen the SD5 for multiple tours in the past, this time upgrading to an SD5 Quantum from Brit Row’s inventory. “The show was programmed, so I carried on with this upgrade, and it worked out brilliantly – the gear from Brit Row was packaged great too”, he comments.
Elliott runs 10 IEM mixes for keys and techs, sending 12 stems to a Mackie mixer on the drum riser via MADI, and a Ferrofish DA converter. “This is so the drummer, Jason Cooper, can mix his own IEMs. I also have eight monitor mixes on stage, six downstage and two upstage, each differing vastly between band member’s preferences. After all this time, I like to think I know what they require! Keyboardist Roger is the only band member on wireless IEMs, along with all the techs, and Jason uses a Shure hardwired pack that is driven by the Mackie mixer on his drum riser. Both he and Roger use 64 Audio A18’s IEM’s, with the rest of the band on wedges”.
On reflection of another successful tour with one of Britain’s most-loved post punk outfits, Corkett adds:
Brit Row Account Executive Dave Compton provided us with great equipment and teams, as always. Our PA Techs, Tom Cossovich and Brian Slevin, and Stage Tech Luke Cohen, are all talented, level-headed team players, which is exactly who you need on intensively scheduled tours such as ours. I never have to question a thing when touring with Brit Row – their support is always fantastic.
Elliott agrees, concluding: “The Brit Row team are outstanding, from the crew they provided to go on the road with us, to the support from their offices in London”.