Extending a seven-year association with the artist, Entec provided sound and lighting packages for country singer Kenny Rogers’ farewell tour titled The Gambler’s Last Deal along with a five-man crew who reported to Rogers’ long-time Technical Director and Monitor Engineer Frank V. Farrell.
Rogers’ show relies heavily on a career history-based narrative with the singer reminiscing on his journey in music, underpinned by video content dating back to the mid-1950s. Prior to soundcheck at the Palladium, Farrell explained Entec’s role: “We’ve involved them in Kenny’s tours since 2009 and we’ve always appreciated the support that [Managing Director] Noreen O’Riordan and her staff give us whenever we’ve come over. This time we are renting sound and lighting from Entec but our requirements can vary. We place the responsibility of booking all elements of production with the promoter – in this case 3A Entertainment – and we supplement with items that we can bring from across the pond, which is usually just band gear under 50lbs.”
Rogers’ touring crew of five augmented house PA systems with audio equipment from Entec, including an Avid Venue Profile for monitors and another for Keith Bugos, the FOH Engineer / Production Manager who has served the artist for around 40 years. “Back in the States, we are self-contained, and Keith and I were among the very first engineers to purchase Digidesign Venue consoles when they arrived on the market,” commented Farrell. “Of course, the branding has since changed to Avid and I’ve had a good relationship with them for around 15 years, helping them with the beta testing of newer products, so it’s rewarding to find Profile consoles amongst Entec’s inventory.”
Praising his colleague at FOH, Farrell said: “Keith is an incredible Sound Engineer; he’s one of the most intuitive people you’ll ever encounter. In the ’90s, I briefly went away to work with Steve Miller in a studio capacity and when I returned, Keith and I pooled our production expertise. We’re a pretty good tag team because whereas I’m more of a technical person than Keith, he is definitely better with logistics.”
On stage, Entec supplied eight d&b M4 floor monitors with D80 amplifiers for Rogers and his band, some employing back-up from hardwired Shure in-ear monitors. Said Farrell: “I’m an old Clair guy and have sworn by the 12AM wedge for years, however, I am very happy with the d&b M4. In fact, I love it – it’s a wonderful wedge that works very well on stage with this band.
“Kenny’s a wedge man. I’ve tried him on a variety of in-ear brands but the cranial effect bothers him. He doesn’t even like to wear headphones when he’s recording. I’m just sending a full stereo mix into a pair of M4s angled around his microphone stand and he’s happy. We’ve been doing it for so long that can look at him and instantly know if he needs more 2k, and his mic technique will tell me if I have the wedge level too hot.”
Farrell generates eight stereo mixes in total. “The guitars go through a bunch of modelling devices, such as a Line 6 and an Avid Eleven Rack, from which I take a direct output, and the bass is the only ‘live’ instrument in terms of using onstage amplification but we turn his four 10-inch cabinet towards him to minimise bleed. The show is very subtle at times. We like to take care of the energy with the monitors and the mains, and not let it come from the band, because we can manipulate it better for Kenny. You still know it’s a fully live band but it’s vastly more controllable and ends up sounding consistent from venue to venue, regardless of their size.”
Entec’s microphone package included the Shure UR4D+ wireless system with a UR2 handheld transmitter and Beta87A capsule as Rogers’ vocal choice. Farrell elaborated: “Kenny likes to use a lightweight mic. People have sometimes said that a Neumann capsule would be perfect for him but it’s too heavy. I personally like the Sennheiser 5200 series mic for him [which Entec also stocks] but what we have for these dates sounds just fine.
“I don’t add compression to Kenny’s mic. Being an old school singer, he can do that job himself just like all of his contemporaries who learned to manoeuvre the microphone correctly. There’s a set of Avid plug-ins I like called Reel Tape Suite that add a warm saturation to the sound like an old Fostex M80 machine.” Farrell and Bugos were aided in the sound department by Entec’s James ‘Kedge’ Kerridge and Rik Hart – the latter taking care of the RF elements of the production.
Whilst directing the overall technical operation, Farrell admitted that he has maintained a “hands-off” approach when it comes to lighting Rogers’ shows, leaving this responsibility to seasoned Lighting Director Jeff Metter, a South African with US citizenship.
Supported in London by Entec crew members Simon Chandler-Honnor, Andy Emmerson and Niall Hannell, the LD recently upgraded to a grandMA2 console, supplied by Entec with an On-PC Command Wing as part of a package that included Claypaky Alpha Spot QWO800’s, Sharpy Wash 330’s, Martin LED Stage Bar 2’s and PixelRange PixelPar 44’s distributed on stands around the perimeter of the performance area.
The main feature of the stage was a series of six elegant towers formed by hoops and white gauze, under-lit by a single Claypaky Sharpy Wash to produce a stylish gradient effect. Entec’s package also included conventional overhead lighting in the form of ETC Source Fours, Thomas 8-Lite Molefays and floor cans, 750W halogen HPL lamps and 250W ACLs, and a pair of Robert Juliat Victor followspots.