by Cat Strom.
Photo Credits: Troy Constable
“In terms of production, there was no stone left unturned, from staging and use of levels, sound production, musical and vocal arrangements, choreography and the captivating lighting and visuals. Sebastian raised the bar and reminded the crowd why he is one of Australia’s most successful recording artists.” www.themusic.com.au
Guy Sebastian returned to the road with his Ridin’ With You tour which began in Adelaide and over a month later finished in Sydney.
There’s no denying that Guy Sebastian is a very talented performer with an amazing vocal range and the ability to play a wide variety of instruments. The audience at Sydney’s Star Events Centre were pumped before he took to the stage and the vibe was electrifying from start to finish.
Creative director for the Ridin’ With You Tour was Mitchell Woodcock, with input from a handful of people including lighting designer Brad Alcock of BAAC Light.
The stage design started with a large rear LED wall, then it was cut into three LED walls, and then multiple layers, before eventually settling with three screens to allow some lighting elements to feature within the design.
The show is extremely content heavy with content created by Natasha Stewart and team, who have delivered stunning visuals for The Voice.
Natasha and Mitchell spent several weeks with Guy shooting the required footage. “All of the content is loaded onto both my Arkaos MediaMaster Pro touring servers and they listen to timecode direct from the Ableton session,” said Brad.
“Everything is triggered by timecode to exact moments in the content. All of BAAC Light’s servers are doing the show from a playback perspective, although obviously it all comes through me as the LD to balance all the light levels filters and overall impact.”
The stage design had a number of different levels, all in 300mm increments, with black Perspex fascia. Within the set were two DJ Power Low Foggers adding a dramatic, theatrical element. Located just above stage level in the riser skirting were Astera AX3 battery operated, puck wireless fixtures to light up the low fog and provide some texture to the floor.
“Today in Sydney we’re filming the show for a Channel 9 special,” Brad revealed. “So earlier today we did all of the TV close ups and tonight we’ll film the live show. I designed the show with the camera’s eye in mind, and as such, I’m delivering a lot less horse power from above to ensure the pictures remain clean.”
Whilst it was only the last show that was filmed, the design was the same for the entire tour with Brad pointing out that the design was specifically made with social media in mind. Guy has a camera crew with him on the road continuously making social media content, so he was very aware to keep Guy looking on the money the entire time.
“I’m actually shifting my design style to be more suitable for cameras and I spend my time trying to get ‘moments’,” Brad explained. “It’s a different way of doing things, but it’s to try and stay on top of all the phones in the audience.
“Obviously lighting designers have always created moments, and a lot of the time that’s done with horsepower in quantity, but these days many LDs are bringing the lighting states back to allow the content or story to be more forward. This is common ground for me as I have a musical theatre background.”
However the primary focus for Brad is Guy, as that’s who everyone has paid to see and that’s who is paying the bill, and everything he does is supportive to this end. “That’s a stickler for me and I struggle with designs where the artist disappears in an array of lighting bling,” he said.
A key specification with the tour was that all the production gear, including screens, fitted into one truck. Around the stage were six towers of 2.44m pre-built truss housing two Fine Art BWS, one Robe Pointe and two Showline SL Nitro strobes.
The BWS were chosen for a number of really big moments and air effects, although they spend a lot of time doing generic support lighting shots behind Guy. The vertical truss towers also featured effective use of LED pixel tape, as did the risers, which was sourced by BAAC Light and will be used on several of their upcoming projects.
“The Neon Pixel tape is flexible, tough and great for an LD as I can use it to light in many different ways,” said Brad. “The six towers are really the core lighting rig with a bunch of lights under the stairs and on the stage itself to create shaping, form and interest for cameras.”
Fine Art wash lights were located to the back of the stage on the rear deck with more hung over the stage. Also flown were eighteen Martin MAC Viper Profiles which supplied all of the keylight and stage dressing.
Brad is known for not being precious when it comes to choosing the light fixtures for his shows and will simply specify a profile, a wash or a hybrid.
“I consider it to be the LD’s job and your ego is not important,” he stated.
“It’s my big criticism of the industry: it can’t all be about the newest toy in town. I enjoy using fixtures that have been around for a long time and proving to myself that those fixtures can still do the job extremely well, sometimes better.
“We all know that LED is the way of the future and so the MAC Vipers may be ending their life cycle with me, but as an LD on a limited amount of time, I’m 100% confident in being able to balance them for TV. I know exactly where to go with the fixture, add a little bit of magenta to the CTO at 4000 K and straight away I’ve got a colour temp I love.”
“It meant that all my key lights were already done and ready for TV, so today when we were doing the close ups I had to do very little in terms of adjustments after the white balance. As the show is timecoded I can basically watch what’s happening on stage, call my follow spots rather than rushing around my console trying to balance things.”
Brad ran the show with a High End Systems RoadHog 4 with the two ArKaos MediaMaster Pro servers, a primary and a backup, both fed timecode and everything triggered from the Abelton Live playback computer located within the audio setup.
“Basically they drive the show for me,” Brad remarked. “There are a number of songs in the set where I have removed the timecode …. primarily to keep me concentrating!”
The entire light show was designed around touring efficiently especially as there was only Brad and Matthew Silk, Brad’s system technician, as lighting crew who managed to have it all up and working in less than 2 ½ hours.
As the Perth show was the day after the opening in Adelaide, the entire system was replicated in Perth perfectly by Frontier Lighting. “I have nothing but fond words to say about Jared, Justin and the team,” added Brad.
“They took the show in paperwork form for me and made it happen – including the staging – with an absolute minimum of communication. The Fine Art fixtures were substituted with Claypaky Super Sharpy and Claypaky B-EYE K10 with GLP JDC-1 strobes and Ayrton MagicBlade playing the role of blinders and LED strip.”
FOH engineer George Gorga also looks after monitors which isn’t a mammoth task for him as the band control their own monitor mix on their phones via an app – a process George describes as fantastic.
“Guy owns his own Midas M32C Digital Rackmount Mixer with a DL32 32-input, 16-output stage box and he really wanted to use them to try get some consistency, mainly for the one-off corporate shows that we do,” explained George.
“We decided to try it on this tour, so at the beginning of rehearsals
I set all the gains, EQs and reverb effects which took about half an hour.
“After that, I let the musicians build their own in-ear mixes. I didn’t hear from the band for the entire four days of rehearsals as they happily controlled their own mixes on their phones. In fact, during the tour I’ve very rarely heard anything from them about monitors.”
George remarked that the band love this set up as they are in control of their own destiny, although all they can really control with the app are the faders of their own mix with George doing anything else required. Each singer also has their own effects unit so they’re not interfering with each other.
A Nowsonic 2.4Ghz /5Ghz Stage Router is used on stage which George says delivers excellent coverage. “I run more than 32 input channels at FOH, but everything the band needs for monitors fits into the M32 channel count,” explained George.
“I also have an aux feed from the FOH console running back into the Midas Talkback input for any extra lines that may pop up. This set up may not work for every act but it really suits this one.”
George has been mixing for Guy since the beginning of the year, mainly corporate and promo gigs, but this is the first concert tour he has done with him. He was running his weapon of choice at FOH – an Avid Profile – saying that although he occasionally uses an Avid S6L, the Profile is always reliable and does what he needs it to do. Plus he can get one pretty much anywhere in the world. He added that there are no great mysteries to mixing this show.
“It’s a stock standard console with just a couple of Waves plugins; the C4 Multiband Compressor, the SSL Buss Compressor and the TrueVerb Reverb that I run on Guy’s vocal, ” added George.
“The rest is all standard plugins. I have a Smart Research C2 Compressor as an external unit inserted on the main stereo buss, something I take everywhere and find it hard to mix without it these days. There’s also a MADI card in the FOH rack as we multitrack record every show.”
The tour travelled an audio control package from JPJ Audio but utilised in-house PAs with George commenting that all of the venues they played had decent speaker systems. Extra gear was added locally when required, mainly subs and some extra front fills.
Guy, who has an endorsement with Sennheiser, used an EM 2050 two channel wireless receiver, two SKM 2000 handheld wireless transmitters, along with two KK 205 Neumann Condenser Microphone capsules.
“I’m a real Shure person and I hadn’t really worked with this setup before,” said George. “However, it just seems to suit his voice really well and sounds amazing”.
The backing singers are on Shure Beta 58s with UR radios and everyone is on Sennheiser SR2000 IEMs, of which we have eight sends.” Guy also uses a Sennheiser EW500 G4 radio system for his acoustic guitar.
On stage are a pair of L-Acoustics 112P wedges for Guy, one 108P on Guy’s piano riser when it is rolled in, plus a d&b Q-SUB for the drums – again all run off the Midas app. George can control them from his computer at FOH if needed, all on WiFi, but he runs a Cat5 cable as a backup.
GUY SEBASTIAN TOURING CREW
George Said – Tour Manager
George Gorga – FOH Audio / Production Manager
Brad Alcock – Lighting Designer
Brett Millican – Stage Manager/Backline Tech
Christopher Skin – PJ Audio Tech
Mathew Silk – BAAC Light Tech
Takao Hashino – Big Picture LED Tech SUPPLIERS
JPJ Audio (AUDIO)
BAAC Light (LIGHTING)
Big Picture (LED SCREENS)
Rosemont Staging (STAGE SET)
ATS Logistics (TRUCKING)