Morrissey's FOH engineer Dave 'Milky' Millward recently caught up with Audio Pro Internaitonal editor Daniel Gumble to chat about his work on the former Smiths legend's current world tour, on which he has been utilising Allen & Heath's iLive mixing system...
What have been the key strengths of the iLive system on the Morrissey tour?
This has been a very varied tour so far. The first leg of the tour took us around the world using a different PA system in each venue and country. I wanted to put a system together that would be compact and easy to freight at a relatively low cost, but would also give me all the features I require and also enable me to have a good level of control for myself when setting up all the different systems. The iLive-80 modular version, with its small size but large capacity of inputs and outputs, coupled with excellent iPad remote control, gave me all of that along with a great sound.
Can you talk us through your set up and any effects you have been using?
My typical setup at FOH is now an iLive-80 modular surface - the perfect size of console for me - with a mixture of analogue inputs and outputs and an AES output card fitted. I also use Allen & Heath’s ACE dual redundant rack to surface link via two Cat5 cables.Article continues below
I have one Meyer Galileo 616 connected via AES used as a line driver, mainly to give me consistent output levels from the console when faced with widely varying system gains each day, but also useful for additional outputs.
Meanwhile, I have one spare console PSU, one Gigabit Network switch and a personal laptop for running iLive Editor and Meyer Compass software, a recording laptop running Logic and one PL remote control unit and iPad for wireless remote control.
Onstage I have an iDR10 modular MixRack with 56 analogue inputs fitted, 16 analogue outputs and one four-channel AES output card fitted. I use an Allen & Heath Dante card connected directly to FOH laptop via Cat5 for full multi-track record and virtual soundcheck playback and one Meyer Galileo 616, again connected via AES.
The Dante record is on a separate network as it requires one gigabit network but all the other items, including the two Galileos, my laptop, the iPad and my iPod Touch for playback, are on the AH-Net network so I can have full control over everything myself.
I've just been using the excellent built in effects on the iLive; EMT Plate on vocals, some delay from time to time, and a couple of different reverbs for drums and instruments, along with one or two occasional special effects, such as a cavernous vocal reverb in one song, ADT on a backing vocal on another, and a super Gated reverb on drums on one particular section of a song.
Have there been any notable challenges that have arisen on the tour due to unusual instrumentation, or any songs that have been particularly problematic?
The main challenge on the tour has been operating in extreme heat in some of the European outdoor shows. Even with gazebos supplied to keep direct sunlight off of ourselves and the equipment, the temperatures at times were unbearable. In Athens it was 43 degrees Celcius, 109 degrees fahrenheit in the shade.
Are there any particular functions with the iLive system that you have found especially useful on the tour?
It's very easy to reconfigure my outputs for all the different PA systems we've come across and place them on the surface in the order I want and need for each day. Once that's done, I don't need any unused output strips to appear on the surface at all for that day, and if the next day is different I just drag and drop what I need onto the surface and that's that. Same goes for rearranging inputs on a song by song basis; very easy to do, even in the middle of a show, and it means I can always have the channels I need right at my fingertips.
Setting up the system and making adjustments during soundcheck is a joy. It's always been very easy to set up and use a laptop running the online editor via wireless or cable, and the Allen & Heath iLive MixPad app is also very simple and easy to use. On one occasion, on a tour just previous to the Morrissey tour, I had to setup FOH up on a theatre balcony, so I setup my laptop and iPad down in middle of the stalls and did he whole soundcheck away from my console with the added assistance of a borrowed IEM system to give me PFL when needed.
Have you toured with Morrissey before? If so, have you always worked with Allen & Heath?
My first tour with Morrissey was in 2004, and apart from missing the South American tour earlier this year due to prior commitments; I had only missed one other show before that. In 2004 I was using Midas XL4s wherever possible. As time went on and the channel counts got larger and the pressure to take up less space at FOH was applied I switched to the Yamaha PM1D briefly and then to a PM5D-RH, which served me very well for several tours. I used a Digidesign Profile for a while, but although it did an OK job, it is not a desk I would now use by choice. In 2011 I started using a Midas Pro6, which I liked a lot. However, I'd been using the iLive-80 and even the R72 on some other tours with Tindersticks in the last couple of years, and I was very interested to try them on a Morrissey tour. When faced with the worldwide tour earlier in 2012, it seemed like the ideal situation, so I took the plunge and I am very happy that I did.
Photos by Kelda Hole.
Keep up to date with the latest developments from the world of pro audio by registering for our free daily newsletter.