U2 360 Tour Profile

Dec 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kevin Becka
Photos: Steve Jennings

SEEKING INTIMACY ON A GRAND SCALE

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McMillan, who has mixed monitors for Van Morrison, came primarily from a studio background, having worked extensively at Windmill Lane in Dublin. “These guys have made me raise the bar within myself,” McMillan says. “After 20 years, you get set in your ways. Here, I had to start again and I love that.”

For The Edge, Niall Slevin runs 40 inputs per engine into his SD7, sharing the same rack feeds with McMillan. He uses an AMS reverb and a Lexicon PCM 80 for his mixes but duplicates his rack effects with onboard equivalents in case of failure. He also has duplicate analog processors in his rack for McMillan's mixes should Alistair need to jump over to his console. Slevin feels the SD7 is a big sonic improvement over the SD5, but he is realistic about its abilities. “It still has a few reliability issues, but we're pushing it to the max, especially with the redundancy. Effectively, we're throwing it out the top floor and seeing if it will fly. At the moment, it's gliding, but it's getting there. No one has had these consoles and pushed it as much as we have. When we find things out, DiGiCo has been very good about fixing it. I can't imagine a situation at the moment in a rock 'n' roll theater or any other audio application that this couldn't deal with.”

The band is using Future Sonics in-ear systems transmitted over newly upgraded Senn- heiser G3 wireless systems, which the crew credits with adding more definition and top end. With this large of a setup, RF is a big challenge and the team has found themselves going back to old-school techniques of placement using line-of-sight and shorter cables. Skaff says, “The wilder it gets, the more we seem to go back to basics to make things happen.”

A show of this scale being launched during tough times is easy to pick on. But it's hard to argue with its success both in record-breaking attendance and integration of new technology. At a time when album sales are not driving revenues, live performance has stepped into the spotlight and blazed a trail where other methods have failed. Did the band achieve “intimacy on a grand scale” as Bono proposed during the show? Only you can be the judge, but from my seat, it was dazzling.


Kevin Becka is Mix's technical editor.






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