Despite having been active for over four decades, New Wave royalty Duran Duran continue to be a huge draw for diehard fans and newcomers alike, able to plunder an impressive back catalogue of crowd-pleasers such as Girls on Film, Wild Boys, and Rio among many others.
For their latest UK and European festival run, the band picked up where they left off with long-time audio vendor Britannia Row Productions, which supplied the crew with a DiGiCo-centric control package, as well as an assortment of microphones and Sennheiser IEMs.
“Brit Row have been great in providing the gear we needed, at a time when so much equipment is unavailable,” says Production Manager Wob Roberts, who first worked with the band in 2008 and returned to the role last year. “Part of this was because we booked well in advance, but the following US tour was a late addition and our Account Handler, Dave Compton, has managed to source the gear we need without having to ship anything, which is great as we try to reduce the carbon footprint of touring.”
FOH Engineer Craig Pryde first joined Duran Duran’s audio crew in 2017, originally being brought in to cover for outgoing engineer Snake Newton. “Snake is on a mammoth world tour with Harry Styles at the moment, so I took the reins last summer,” he explained. “We moved over to DiGiCo for this year, and they’ve been incredibly supportive, with the best back up I’ve ever experienced. The change from the previous console was partly driven by production, as the DiGiCo desks are more widely available worldwide for one-off fly shows. I’ve been really impressed with the Quantum 5 Brit Row have provided.”
Pryde specified a pair of Bricasti M7s to complement the AMS RMX16 500 series reverb that the band already own, as well as redundant Waves servers with SuperRack, Milab microphones for the drums, and Sennheiser mics and IEMs for vocalists. “I’m also integrating Live Professor via SuperRack to host some non-Waves plugins like the Eventide 910 and H3000, as well as some Sonnox software and the Gullfoss EQ by Soundtheory,” Pryde furthered.
The crew had limited rehearsal time due to scheduling, which meant that they had just five days to work through the switch to DiGiCo. “I’m still learning new things every day, but the band has a huge back catalogue to pull from, which makes virtual playback a godsend,” he adds. “They’re a great band and are fun to mix. They’ll have a listen in rehearsals at arrangements and comment – especially with the new material or any of the new arrangements – but mostly they’re pretty hands off.”
For many years, frontman Simon Le Bon’s vocal mic of choice has been a wireless Shure B58A, though recent discussions with the band’s studio engineer prompted him to reassess the available options. “We eventually opted for a Sennheiser EM6000 receiver with an SKM6000 transmitter and a 935 capsule,” said Pryde. “It was a good choice, and he sounds great through it.”
Although Monitor Engineer Chris Miller had never used one of DiGiCo’s Quantum consoles prior to this run, he opted for a Quantum 338 to create the “dense, in your face, in-ear mixes” that the band favoured.
“I really like the screens and the layout of the 338, and the Mustard processing is great,” he says. “It allows me to stay inside the console without Waves or UAD, which I’m a big fan of avoiding, if possible. I use four RND 5045 to clean up background noise in the vocals, but that’s the only outboard I have. I also use parallel compression on all my vocals, with the Mustard and SD dynamic EQ just before. It’s a fantastic combination.”
With the exception of one subwoofer for drummer Roger Taylor, the band members use Sennheiser 2050 IEM systems and EM6000 wireless microphones. “The band knows what they need in order to concentrate on performing, and they can communicate that to me quite well,” said Miller.
“There is lip reading, hand gestures, and the occasional meeting after the show. Once we’re on the same page, we adjust, maintain, and it’s on to whatever might be next. They’re a bunch of real professionals and it’s a pleasure to get to work with them. Good music and great source material remove most of the challenges we might encounter,” he added.
Roberts was keen to highlight the strength of his personal 20-year relationship with Brit Row, and how that kind of track record serves as a reassurance when embarking on a high-profile and potentially tricky of shows like this one.
“When I first became a Production Manager back in 1997, Bryan Grant was the first person I called for advice,” he remembers. “I’d worked on tours with Brit Row as the audio company and I knew they were well-respected, and the help Bryan gave me sealed the relationship. They’ve always been professional, accommodating, and have bent over backwards to help me out on many occasions.”
Both Miller and Pryde agreed with these sentiments. “They’re top notch and make you feel right at home in whatever situation you might be in,” Miller said. “Their packaging and racks are very well done and even quite stylish. I love the controllable LEDs on and in the double wide racks. A big thanks to Brit Row’s Dave Compton and Felix Threadgill, their involvement really made for a great run.”
“It’s been my first touring experience with Brit Row, and I can honestly say it’s been fantastic,” added Pryde. “All of the gear has been really well-prepped, and the phone has always been answered. Duran Duran are a true global band, so for continuity and quality of service, that requires a global rental company. Brit Row, as part of Clair Global, provide a totally consistent service around the world; the back-up is fantastic.”
The band headlined a number of UK outdoor shows this summer in May, June, and July, such as those at Castle Howard Estate in York, Lytham Festival, and Hyde Park’s BST, as well as a number of prestigious European slots at Lisbon’s Rock in Rio, La Prima Estate Festival in Tuscany, and Cruilla Festival in Barcelona to name but a few.