The Good, The Bad & The Queen musician and songwriter Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, guitarist Simon Tong (The Verve) and Tony Allen have spent most of 2019 on the road in the UK and Europe with the assistance of the band’s long-time technical partner, west London-based Entec Sound & Light.
2018 saw The Good, The Bad & The Queen (GBQ) return with their critically-acclaimed second studio album Merrie Land, produced by Tony Visconti.
For GBQ, the year began in March with rehearsals at Music Bank where the band was augmented by keyboard player Mike Smith, percussionist Karl Vanden Bossche and The Demon Strings before the latest GBQ tour got underway at the UEA in Norwich on April 12th.
Tour manager Craig Duffy, who has worked with Damon Alban for 22 years, said: “When we flew back from Mexico in October after the final Gorillaz tour date, we literally drove straight from the airport to the studio to prepare for a GBQ appearance on Later… With Jools Holland, and then went off to play a few low-key shows in coastal towns like Cullercoats to coincide with the album launch.”
All the way through to the final date at the Lowlands festival in Holland on 16 August, Entec was in position to fulfil all of the band’s sound and lighting requirements. Sound engineers Matt Butcher (FOH) and Dave Guerin (monitors) toured using house PA systems, while Entec provided a small but versatile package that included a pair of DiGiCo SD12 consoles with an SD-Rack and Waves SoundGrid bundle, 16 d&b M4 stage wedges and a d&b C7-SUB for drums, powered by D80 amplifiers, and Shure IEM systems.
Microphones and accessories from Sennheiser, Shure, DPA, AKG and Schertler ranges were also part of the package, and former Entec staff member-turned-freelancer James ‘Kedge’ Kerridge supplemented the personnel as audio technician.
For this tour, the band opted for a more theatrical experience over a straight rock’n’roll show and the process began with Andrew Keightley installed as lighting designer. He and Craig Duffy first met in the ’80s when the LD was part of Iron Maiden’s crew, and they went on to work together with numerous acts including PJ Harvey. When GBQ first played live, it was Andrew who took the lighting reins before other projects took him away.
Duffy said: “I have Adam Stevenson, Entec’s assistant head of lighting, to thank for suggesting Andy as our LD, and the great thing was that Andy and Paul Simonon really clicked about music, visuals and simplicity. Paul was keen to get him back for this year’s shows, however, owing to commitments such as the Cambridge Folk Festival, he was always only able to do the spring tour.
“That said, he set up everything in such a way that it would be quite simple for someone to cover him. Andy’s tech was Simon ‘Boff’ Howarth, another trusted Entec stalwart, who is always someone we’ve loved having around, and it was great when he was able to step forward and take over. Entec then arranged for Will Mashiter to come in as lighting tech.”
Entec’s lighting spec was deliberately modest, centred around an Avolites console running 10 ETC Source 4 profiles, four White Light 2kW Tubular Ripple effects units, 10 2kW fresnels and a Cirro Mk3 hazer, with 10ft sections of Total Solutions’ LAD truss forming four towers on the festival dates.
According to Mojo magazine, Simonon, whose own painting of Blackpool Pier formed the stage backdrop, had allegedly told Andrew that he wanted the lighting to “terrify people”. “The show certainly had a dark, film noir flavour to it with a lot of silhouette work,” described Duffy. “It was a bigger show and it carried certain expectations.”