Gary Barlow’s recent solo tour was of a more intimate nature than those he undertakes with his fellow band members, but the quality of the audio is no less important than it is for Take That’s stadium shows. The requisite equipment inventory boasts DiGiCo consoles, supplied by audio rental company Delta Sound, at both Front of House and monitor positions, a combination that is as sure to please as Gary himself.
Front of House engineer Gary Bradshaw, who also engineers for Take That, opted for a DiGiCo SD8 to take into account the restrictions on space presented by the tour’s choice of venues.
“The gigs were very varied in their size,” Bradshaw explains. “The biggest being the Brighton Centre, going down to a tiny seaside theatre in Scarborough where there’s not much space at all. So I went for a nice, compact package, for which the SD8 fits the bill perfectly. I only have a couple of outboard effects in addition to the console and I utilise a MADI playback system, which means we can be sound checked before the band even arrives.”
At the monitor position, Steve Lutley, also a Take That veteran, has opted to use DiGiCo’s flagship SD7.
“I’ve been working with Gary since his first solo tour,” he recalls. “I use the SD7 because, in my opinion, it’s the best monitor console currently available. It’s extremely versatile and it gives me complete redundancy, so I know I have a failsafe system.
“I need a console this big because, although the venues are smaller, the size of the band is actually slightly larger than on Take That’s Progress tour. I’ve got 14 stereo mixes for the Sennheiser IEMs, plus two wedge mixes, one for support and one for the guitarist who prefers not to use in-ears.”
Lutley knows that the audio quality of the SD7 is vital. “When we do all the promo dates, we sometimes have to use a different brand of consoles and Gary notices the change immediately. The SD7 is also the only console where I can get away with using the onboard reverbs. On anything else, he will notice.”
As the tour drew to a close, the consensus of both engineers is that it was a success both commercially and in terms of its audio.
“Gary spends a lot of his working life in a studio, writing songs and listening to his vocal,” Lutley concludes. “He knows what he’s meant to sound like. He is very critical of sound, and for us, that can only be a good thing.”