The Hoodoo Gurus have been touring the country to promote their new album In Blue Cave and in Sydney they played the Enmore Theatre. Front of house was controlled by Colin Ellis, known for his work with INXS, Midnight Oil and The Baby Animals, who was lured from his retreat in Tasmania by Michael MacMartin, the bands manager.
As a warm up, a week of pub gigs preceded the tour visiting Jindabyne, Tathra, Mollymook, Camden, Bowral and Bathurst. Apparently it was freezing cold. A standard Revolver Martin pub tour sound system was used for these gigs.
“It’s a great system, it’s just a little bit ‘lumpier’ than these kind of PA’s” said Colin. “It’s more rock’n’roll, harder sounding and unbelievably loud. It’s similar gear to what we’re using here at the Enmore, the only difference really is the speaker system. He’s [Revolver has] got Martin stuff with folded horn, bass bins and bi-radial horns as opposed to the Meyerboxes.”
Colin was using a Yamaha PM3000 mixing desk which was chosen due to budget. It has forty channels but the Hoodoo Gurus only use twenty for their micup, eight channels are used for effects units and effects returns leaving twelve channels for the opening act (the American band The Posies).
Other gear included Klark-Tecnic graphics, DBX limiters and compressors, six Drawmer noise gates, six DBX160X compressors for inserts, a third octave analyser, CD/tape deck, two SPX990’s, and one SPX900. Sound gear was supplied by Troy Balance.
For the smaller shows, six Meyer subs, 2×18″ loudspeakersper box, were used as well as six MSL’s per side. Another four MSL’s were added for the theatre shows.
“I like the Enmore as I think theatres are great to play in.” said Colin. “They change a bit on the vertical planeas opposed to the horizontal plane, you get more change as you walk down the steps as everything is sloping down to the stage. It’s a nice sounding room maybe a bit dry. If anything it soaks up the PA and you could maybe do with a little bit more power than we have in here.”
“For the volume they play at, the Hoodoo Gurus are surprisingly easy to mix. I went into the rehearsal studio at Sound Level and it was so loud it was making my eyes water! I couldn’t stay in there for more than a song and a half. They’ve got good strong vocals and they both use a two amp guitar amp set up whereby when they come to their solos they kick in the other amp. So they mix their own solos, really. They are one of the few bands I’ve worked with where you can sit back and take it easy, actually listen to it.”
Monitor engineer Simon ‘Davros’ Blanch was using a Yamaha 32/10, what is known as the Lord Nelson monitor system – originally designed for the Little River Band about fifteen years ago.
“The wedges are a little bit like the old JBL concert wedgein that they have a timber horn flare,” said Colin. “The timber makes it very sweet sounding and they’re really nice.”
Fairly standard microphones were being used – 57’s on the snare drum and guitars, 451’s on the high hats to give a crisp top end and a M88 on the base guitar with the DI. Each guitar amp has two 57’s and for larger concerts Beta 58’s are used with standard 58’s for the smaller shows.
“I find the Beta’s pick up a little more spill,” said Colin. “The standards give a slightly duller vocal sound but pick up less spill.”
Whilst in Hobart Colin got to use the Midas XL200 through a company called Production Works and he was very impressed.
“It’s a beautiful board,” he enthused. “It’s a cheaper Midas but it’s very nice. They can compete with the Yamaha PM3000 level of board and so hopefully a few more companies will look at them. One thing I’ve noticed about the PM3000 is that as they are about fifteen years old, they’re starting to get problems. They get channel problems and a lot of dry joints in them. We’re forever pulling channels out and moving them around. Some Midas’ would be nice for a change.”
After playing Australia and New Zealand for about five weeks, the band and crew depart for a cushy four weeks in Brazil. The band have toured Brazil before as there is apparently a promoter there who is pretty keen on Australian bands. Other acts that have been there recently include Spy V Spy. Colin has worked in Brazil many times but mainly on large shows such as Rock In Rio, this tour will be the pub circuit.
“Michael MacMartin is trying to sell it to us as a holiday package!”said Colin.
Lighting designer David Platt, otherwise known as Troggie, has been with the Hoodoo Gurus for nearly four years.
“You can call me what you like, I answer to it all,” he said.
Troggie has been working in the industry from 1978 and has done lights for numerous local acts as well as a few international names. For this tour he was using about 200 pars (mostly narrows), twelve Golden Scan 3’s, seven DWE Duets, six lekos, thirty-six colour changers, two UV’s and some groundrows. Quite a lot of equipment for the Enmore.
“The tour is called Blue Cave so we’re just looking for that blue cave effect,” said Troggie. “The original design had to be chopped back a bit due to lack of space. I’ve never wanted to be a big fan of moving lights. I thought if you couldn’t do it with analogue, what’s the point? But it’s the age of it, isn’t it?”
The moving lights were controlled by a Scancommander whilst a Jands Instinct 60 way did the rest.
“I love the Instincts, they’re my favourite desk.” Troggie said. “I like the way they are set up and I’ve been using them since they first came out so I know them back to front. I’m a lazy person when it comes to learning something else but I get by. I’ve got Colourset colour changers as they’re the best. You can drop kick them across the venue and they still work (not recommended by Connections). It’s not a fast and furious show, I wouldn’t even know what a flash button looked like.”
The backdrop of an island with a smoking volcano was made by Hancock Events and was enhanced by the use of UV. Lighting equipment was supplied by Chameleon Touring Systems who Troggie couldn’t praise enough. He was particularly impressed with Rachael Belbin, also mentioned in this months Toyota story, who programmed the moving lights.