ON THE ROAD: Sting
Opposite: Back To Bass has seen Sting go back to basics in terms of the tour’s appearance. Below: Lighting Designer / Director, Danny Nolan, chose a stripped back and minimalistic lighting design revolving around black and white.
one hour five. For load-ins and to get everything finished, it takes around three hours.” Part of the equipment that has travelled with
the tour is two 12-inch band risers, supplied by Tait Technologies and just three trucks are needed for the tour to be packaged and moved on, all supplied by Transam Trucking. The preproduction time for Back To Bass was a very low-key arrangement, with a modest one-day rehearsal at the Wang Theatre in Boston for the crew whilst the band did a five-day run at Caroll Studios in New York.
A 30-YEAR PARTNERSHIP It would be accurate to say that Howard Page isn’t your typical FOH Engineer. Or rather, his working life at this point was never intended to revolve around touring. Page is on the engineering staff at Clair Global, based in Lititz, Pennsylvania, USA, and by his own admission he doesn’t usually tour these days and calls his presence on the Back To Bass tour somewhat of an “anomaly”. Meaning there is, of course, just one musician who can get Page on a tour bus these days. Said Page: “I worked on the Symphonicity
tour with an orchestra and small band for 14 months, as Sting needed someone with a lot of experience - a total understanding of dynamics and live orchestral balance because if you don’t go into a tour like that without total control of all those elements, it will never be as good as it could be. We came along and solved that, working closely with Sting to totally control
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those elements to achieve some pretty stunning results.” Sting has many facets these days; semi
acoustic; rock ‘n’ roll and with Back To Bass, an arguably unique set of musicians using violins and rhythm guitars to recreate songs from the artist’s catalogue in never before heard arrangements. Page continued: “Basically, the man is a
genius, so if I have to come out on the road again with anyone, he would be the only artist I could imagine being with. He’s the nicest guy in the world, and is just beyond creative. He comes up with things and you sit back and think ‘but how is that going to work?’ and it comes together, every time.” To say the staff at Clair is passionate about
one of their longstanding clients (Sting has been with the company since the very first time The Police toured America) is an understatement. Catching up with the tour as it neared its end and having the audio engineers talk with an infectious enthusiasm as discussions about what makes mixing Sting the very environment in which they want to be in every day is quite charming, but it’s their combined expertise which also puts Sting in the very best position on the road. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and all
my career have been dedicated to always strive for perfection,” Page explained. “I’m involved with the final design process of all of the Clair systems, tuning and commissioning how they actually sound. We have a lot of very clever
people in our office, who deal with all of the design theory, but it still has to work in the real world and that’s where my 36 years of practical experience comes in. I’ve mixed everything over the years, from AC/DC in Sydney when I was a kid, to operas and orchestras alike.” Australian-born Page started off in radio,
gained a Technical Engineering degree and built his career around it. “I imported the first Ampex 4Track recorder into Australia and built a recording studio to make jingles for radio stations. I then went to a recording studio and we built consoles, pretty much from scratch. My specialty is design of live mixing consoles. You find something that you enjoy and that you’re good at, and then you virtually dedicate your whole career to it. I’ve only worked for four companies in my whole life, always doing the same thing, and it is very rewarding.”
A UNIQUE SYSTEM The Back To Bass tour uses Clair’s medium sized propriety line array, the i3, a very wide dispersion system. Page chose the system for its natural, musical sound. “In physics, there’s always a trade-off. A lot of the high level, very loud, longthrow line arrays are 90% dispersion, but there’s always compromise when you have narrower dispersion because it is a little harder to make it sound as musically natural as a wide dispersion system. This i3 system sounds as natural as you could possibly imagine because it’s 140º wide and it holds its tune across that full 140º, which a lot of line arrays don’t do.
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