Excess Baggage Tour Diary Day 1
It’s finally here, The Beni Kirkpatrick And The Excess tour starts today. We are out and about promoting the album Gold Has Worn Away which incase you don’t know by now I co-produced earlier this year. I’m excited to get back out on the road for the first time in ages and the added bonus is that we have prerelease copies of the album for sale now. It’s not officially released until November so if you want a copy a.s.a.p you are going to have to come along to one of the gigs.
For tour dates you can visit the bands website here: http://bkexcess.co.uk/live/
The first stop is a lovely little venue called The Tin in Coventry. It’s not a place I have heard of and when we arrive I walk in to find thats its all brick and stone not too dissimilar to venues that you find in railway arches. For a sound engineer this isn’t a good start. Hard stone surfaces reflect the sound a lot and are usually very unpleasant places to put drum kits and guitar amps. The funny thing is it doesn’t feel as cold and unwelcoming as you would expect and it’s not as harsh sounding as I thought it would be. With a few stud walls and furnishings its actually quite cosy and not a particularly messy sounding. The HK audio P.A. is plenty big enough to do the job and sounds great as I run up the system and E.Q. it.
And then the drums get hit!……………………………
IT’S AN EXPLOSION!
It’s an explosion that smashes us all in the face like it did in the Cellar bar in Bracknell (another unforgiving stone room) that I used to work in when I first started engineering many moons ago. The snare is loud and the cymbals slice through my head with each hit just in case I needed a reminder that brick, stone and drums don’t mix. We go through the soundcheck instrument by instrument. First the drums then moving on to the electric bass, double bass, 2 acoustic bouzouki’s, 1 electric bouzouki, 1 acoustic guitar,1 electric guitar and 2 vocals. Tonight we are joined by Rowan Godel who is a very talented singer songwriter and who also appears on a few of the songs on the new album Gold Has Worn Away. (have I mentioned that yet;) As I’m writing this Rowan is playing us some rough mixes of her new album that she is recording at the moment with Levellers producer Al Scott. It’s sounds incredible and I recommend you check it out when it is released.
And now back to the show…
The strange thing is despite the “excessive” (pun intended) volume it sounds really good. I have a chat with Drew the house engineer who coincidentally was Bellowhead’s monitor engineer before me about 10 years ago. Drew tells me that the volume is normal at soundcheck and with people in the room its soaks up the reflection nicely and it will be much better. He wasn’t wrong either. Sacks of water are pretty good at sound absorption and the human body fills this role pretty well thankfully. I’m getting older now and the tinnitus is a regular feature in my head at quiet times so I’m not the "balls out" 110db mixer I was in my 20’s.
Well not all the time;)
Soundcheck finishes and I get chance to nip out for 10 minutes to get a bite to eat which will be my first solid food I’ve eaten for 2 days. I had a tooth removed yesterday and have been letting the wound heal as best I can but now I need some energy before I pass out at the mixing desk mid show. By the time I’m back in the venue the audience are in their seats and we have 5 mins before the gig starts.
And we are off,
Life Of Leaves is the track to open the tour which has a beautiful hybrid picked acoustic guitar part intro before Benji is joined by messieurs Thomas and Flood. This is what all the hard work this year has been for and it feels and sounds good. Im pretty happy with the mix from the start and the band look comfortable on stage even though this is the first gig for 12 months.
We get to the end of the first track and I hear a quiet muttering about it being loud from a member of the audience I can’t see. I have a little chuckle to myself and think
“You should have been here for the soundcheck” Haha.
The band and I had a discussion pre show about the volume and they had agreed to play a bit softer and having another chat to Drew I find out that its often louder in this venue so I’m happy that I’m running at a good average level for the room. To top it off it sounds great to my ears and as I go for a little walk around the room to check out how it sounds in other areas I’m happy that its really even sounding across the audience. With a few minor changes to the e.q., compression and the reverbs I’m using the mix comes together really nicely and I have to do very little other than riding the volume faders to highlight or set back various parts in the mix to give it the final polish.
The gigs a hit and Benji gets the crowd singing a call and response vocal line that ends the track Boomerang from the album Boomerang which is unfortunately out of stock. If you are at one of the remaining concerts on the tour however, you could buy a prerelease copy of the album Gold Has Worn Away which will also be available from Westpark Records in November. (Is this what they call shameless plugging yet?)
To top off great start to the tour we had the first sales of the album which is a victory in what is great musical year for us all involved with The Excess.(Or at least it is for me anyway) Next stop is The Cumberland Arms in Newcastle on Tuesday the 12th of September.
I hope to see you there.