After three world tours with Oasis as PA tech, Dan Lewis finally got the opportunity to jump into the mixing hot seat, a position he now holds with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
15 years is a long time to work with any artist, especially one of Gallagher’s calibre, but it’s a relationship that’s been built on trust: he won’t work with anyone he doesn’t have full confidence in, in the same way that Lewis won’t work with kit he doesn’t fully believe in. That’s why he relies on Midas to carry out all of his FOH mixing duties.
Over Christmas 2015, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds performed in Manchester for the Radio X Christmas show, Radio Clyde in Glasgow, and Radio Two’s Red Button show, which was filmed and broadcast live; and to wrap up the festivities, they put on their own show at the Royal Albert Hall, which they sold out. The band are an old school, straight-up rock and roll five-piece, and for this very reason, translating their powerful sound to the big stage requires a very simple but considered approach.
“I’ve been working with Noel now a long time, and a lot of beer ago,” Lewis said with a smile, adding that he first made the move to FOH position during the end of Oasis’ third tour. “He always knows what he wants, and surrounds himself with people he trusts, so for the most part I’m just left to get on with it. It’s about consistency from show to show, and for this band, the Midas PRO2C is perfect.”
Lewis has been working with Midas since the Oasis days – an XL4 – and believes that the brand “imparts a certain quality for a rock band”. He commented: “I did a shootout before this run of shows, just to see if there was anything out there better, and although several consoles sounded good, there’s just something about the whole PRO series that flatters a less than perfect input. It somehow turns a distorted or grainy signal – which you’ll always get to an extent with rock bands – into a really nice tone.”
When it comes to an arena, Lewis might use a Midas PRO9, but as the current tour has seen an eclectic mix of smaller venues, including acoustic sets, the PRO2C has packed more than enough punch.
“Noel supported himself at the Royal Albert Hall show, which began with a 30-minute acoustic set of old Oasis songs,” Lewis explained. “Then we had a bit of a changeover, and he banged out a 90-minute electric set with the band. Because we’re only taking 40 inputs off the stage (less than 48 total, including ambients) the PRO2C is ideal. With a rock band like this, you want edge, you don’t want it to rip your face off, so unless Noel throws in a curveball like a choir, the PRO2C has everything I need.”
Aside from a transient designer, which Lewis uses across the drums, there is zero outboard. “It’s a straightforward band, so it’s just a case of using the right mic in the right position with the right console,” Lewis admitted. “We don’t use more than three reverbs and a delay, so all the internal effects come from the PRO2C, and sound excellent. I also record the shows using a Klark-Teknik DN9650 Network Bridge, which also comes in very handy for sound checks at festivals.”
Lewis also raved about the footprint of the PRO2C, which had not only surprised Gallagher’s touring team, but a few promoters too.
“Noel really doesn’t like change, so I told the production manager that I wanted my own console to take out everywhere. He asked how big it was, so I showed him, and he said, ‘oh great, we can put it in with the backline!’ I remember we did this gig in Asia, and they’d had Muse in the night before with tons of gear, and they’d dedicated half a tower for me for our show, and it looked ridiculous how much room I had with just my little PRO2C up there! It may be tiny, but it makes a hell of a big sound. That’s why it’s my go-to.”