A Travelodge deep in West Wales is where I wake up. It’s the first day on tour I can’t be arsed to get breakfast. I’m pretty sure this place doesn’t have the facilities for it anyway. The snooze button gets hit repeatedly and by 11am I’m starting to feel like moving. Todays trip to Market Drayton is going to take us right through the centre of Wales. It should be a gorgeous journey at the very least.
It starts well. The traffic cones don’t seem to be as nocturnal here. There are some out in force but they are accompanied by workmen on the road actually doing stuff. There are a couple of road closures but we are lucky enough that each one doesn’t affect us and we make light work of the drive. Another new venue for us and it’s a beauty. The Festival Drayton centre obviously has spent some money. The Theatre is modern, neat and tidy and should be great to mix in. Looking at the posters on the wall back stage it looks like they had serious refit and spent a lot of money on upgrading the theatre to a digital cinema. A lot of these venues are doubling up as cinemas and often do live satellite broadcasts of things like the Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company shows too.
When we arrived I’m given the option of 2 different P.A. systems. There is a house Martin Audio rig which looks like it will do the job fine but I’m told that it's been recently installed and they haven’t quite got some of the teething problems sorted. My other option is a JBL VRX system which has way more sub power and I decide to go with that. The house guys build the system and we get the stage setup and ready for sound check. This is the next level up in modern P.A. quality from anything we have been using on this tour so far. Right from the start I have to flatten off all my E.Q. settings that I have from the last few shows. This rig is doing what I want from the moment it is turned on so I don’t have to work as hard for the mix to come together. Because this place is a cinema it has been designed to be a very dead sounding room which makes mixing FOH easy. As with a few shows earlier in the tour this has consequences for the stage sound. The lack of reflections off the room sterilise the stage sound for the band which makes it feel unnatural for them. Adjustments have to be made with the monitors to compensate for this but they don’t affect the FOH sound.
It feels like I’m mixing a much bigger gig than the 200 capacity show it is. The stage level is not interfering with the FOH sound at all and I have a modern line array style P.A. giving me a big modern sound. Mixing is very easy through the show and it feels good to know that as the band gets bigger in the near future and we play larger and larger venues, we are going to be able to keep creating a big sound that won’t feel out of place anywhere. I have high hopes that I will be mixing this show in the Royal Albert Hall and at some big festival stages in the near future. Tonights sound proves to me that it’s going to work nicely when it happens. The show does sound great, almost too great. The hi mids and hi frequencies are a tiny bit on the brittle side and the overall sound of the rig is a little too clean. In certain situations a bit of harmonic distortion from the speaker system can actually add a nice bit of vibe to a show, and dirty it up a little. This system however is very clean sounding and doesn’t give me quite the bite I’m used to hearing. The show isn’t any worse for it and it does allow me to mix the instruments higher than I normally can before they start covering up the vocals.
It’s another successful gig. We have not had a bad one yet (fingers crossed it stays that way.) Tonight is our biggest audience of the tour so far and they all seem to have a great time as I see lots of happy faces leave at the end of the show. We have another swift stop at a pub to catch up with friends before getting to our bnb to get our heads down for the night.