After being harangued about how much space my analogue set up occupies at FOH at the various festivals this year, I was relieved, for once, to find one larger. I was pipped to the post on the last date of the summer by Portishead with their vintage digital set up!
It was with much amusement that I watched their engineer Rick and his accomplice Mr Brooks load in an endless selection of flight-cases, more than double the number of mine! What was the story?
I enquired. Rick patiently explained the history that had to led to this current set up. Portishead main man, Geoff Barrow had, I believe, always recorded the drums through Yamaha DMP7 digital mixers which gave the records that almost lo-fi brittle edge from the now considered low-quality 16 bit converters, but which, when new, were cutting edge! These they still use live, with several spares, and all are fed into what is now a reasonably old fashioned Yamaha PM5D mixer. Along with this were various racks of outboard compressors, pre-amps and effects. A lot of the outboard is used to coax as much level as possible out of Beth Gibbons lovely, but quiet, voice. Having mixed Beth's solo tour, I sympathised and was interested to see what he was using.
The effects also came with spares as Rick was using a Roland Space Echo on the vocal - always wise to have a back up with tape! It was great to see this well-considered selection of gear, digital and yet retro!
And it took up more space than my meagre analog set up.