Adele Tour Profile

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Heather Johnson



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Monitor engineer Joe Zavaglia keeps his outboard gear list slim and trim.

Monitor engineer Joe Zavaglia keeps his outboard gear list slim and trim.
Photos: Steve Jennings

Variables aside, for this show Adele's engineers could rest easy knowing that the house would receive even coverage courtesy of the recently acquired Meyer Sound system, installed by Pro Media/UltraSound of Hercules, Calif. The Warfield's system comprises left and right arrays of 10 Meyer Sound MILOs and one MILO 120 line array loudspeaker each. Low frequency is covered by four 700-HP subwoofers per side under the stage, with an additional three 700-HP center-flown to cover the upper balcony. The under balcony is covered by six Meyer Sound M1D line array loudspeakers, with two CQ-1 loudspeakers per side providing front-fill. A Galileo loudspeaker-management system handles system drive and processing. “The room sounds a little muddy from the new mix position,” says McDonald. “But regardless, the MILO does the job with style.”

In the Moment In Monitor World

Zavaglia, admittedly a recent convert to digital consoles, navigated a total of 45 inputs on The Warfield's Yamaha PM5D. Like McDonald, he stuck to a short list of outboard equipment. “If it's dry in the ears, it can be a little disorienting and harsh, so I'll wet it up a little bit with a short plate reverb,” he says. “That definitely helps her feel more at home, not so closed in. I use some compression to keep her vocal level in a good place, because when she's in the moment she can peak out that transmitter if I don't keep an eye on it!”

Keyboardists Selan Learner and Miles Robertson, and drummer Wright all use Shure P4HW hardwire packs, while Adele listens through a Sennheiser wireless EW300G2 system. Guitarist Thomas and bass player Tom Driessler listen through wedges. Adele, however, also has a set of wedges nearby. “Adele has to take her ears in and out throughout the show,” says Zavaglia. “She listens to the house a lot, which is a great habit, especially for a young singer. You can watch her: Sometimes it's in, sometimes it's out. I also have a couple of ambient mics up for her in between songs so she can banter with the audience without taking her ears out too much.”

When Mix caught the show, Adele was bantering with the crowd, bubbling over with excitement and seeming genuinely ecstatic that more than 2,000 people would show up just to hear her sing. She even took a photo of the audience for her MySpace page. But when it came down to business, that youthful exuberance took a backseat to an ageless voice with a richness that's rarely found in young artists. And, apparently, she's got ears to match. “The thing about Adele, her hearing and attention to detail are really sharp,” says McDonald. Zavaglia adds that she can hear the difference between desks. “She knows exactly what she wants. For someone who hasn't been kicking around for years and years, she's a total professional.”

Heather Johnson is a San Francisco-based writer.

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