Rihanna Tour Profile

Aug 18, 2010 12:17 PM, By Sarah Benzuly

HIP-HOP DIVA BRINGS EDGINESS TO THE STAGE

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Rihanna performing one of her hits during the Shoreline Amphitheater (Mountain View, Calif.) show

Rihanna performing one of her hits during the Shoreline Amphitheater (Mountain View, Calif.) show

Despite sagging ticket sales—a malady that is festering across the majority of this summer’s tours—Rihanna’s Last Girl on Earth tour showed no signs of slowing down when Mix caught the act at Mountain View, Calif.’s Shoreline Amphitheater in mid-July. “We’ve never done a tour to this capacity,” Rihanna said during an interview with AOL. “The production is unbelievable and the costumes—we just took it to a whole new level. Visually and sonically, it’s going to be a big step up from the last time. We just keep growing, and this time it is a massive production that I cannot wait for.”

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True to that statement, the 22-year-old hip-hop songstress enthralled the mostly female crowd with a solid set list that belies her youth—accentuated with numerous costume changes, select songs performed at a more “intimate” Stage B and an incredible stage set. Sonically, from “Umbrella”—which blasted her onto the scene, thanks in part to the collaboration with Jay-Z—to her most recent, “Love the Way You Lie” from Rated R, a tune with Eminem that’s burning up the radio airwaves, Rihanna and backing band/vocalists sated the crowd’s hunger to get the most out of their ticket.

Front-of-house engineer Tony Blanc at the DiGiCo SD7. “My mixing style, the only one I know, is to make it the best possible.”

Front-of-house engineer Tony Blanc at the DiGiCo SD7. “My mixing style, the only one I know, is to make it the best possible.”

And this starts at ground zero, with front-of-house engineer Tony Blanc and monitor engineer Vish Wadi—engineers new to Rihanna’s tour, but longtime engineers in their own right.

Blanc is mixing on a DiGiCo SD7, which he calls “the best board of its type on the market. I do have a rack of outboard gear, which is mainly a personal taste in compressors. Once the Waves package [SoundGrid/MultiRack] becomes available for this desk, I may be tempted to leave my old AMS and Crane Song units at home.” Using 70 inputs, Blanc mixes the show in such a way that when concertgoers look at the stage, they can see what they hear. “My style, the only one I know, is to make it the best possible,” Blanc says. “I can’t stand it when the bass drum is all that you hear at a show.”

To create this smooth and consistent mix, Blanc uses sidechain EQ and multiband compression on Rihanna’s vocal so it sits nicely in the mix. “We tried various caps for her and found the new Sennheiser large-condenser capsule 965 works great for her vocal style and range,” Blanc says. Background vocalists Ashleigh Haney and Kimberly Ince sing through wireless SM58As. Any guests sing through an SM87C. In addition, the engineer has created snapshots, although the EQ and dynamics stay the same from soundcheck on through the final song. “Each day is saved as a city,” Blanc explains, “and I roll through the show from the Start page.”






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