Award winning UK comedian Russell Howard extended his massively successful ‘Wonderbox’ stand-up tour in December, playing an additional nine dates following the amazing reception it had received in April.
Once again Adlib was asked to supply a famously crisp and clear PA system, lighting and all necessary trussing and rigging to assist his incisive side-splittingly funny show as it continued reducing sold-out arena audiences … to complete pieces!
As with any comedian, working a big arena is a challenging environment. One of the tasks of the production is to reduce the void and bring the audience closer – a bidirectional ‘personal proximity’ relationship – which has to be achieved virtually. While the physical space remains the same, the perception – of both artist and audience – changes.
Adlib applied its considerable experience in the discipline of live comedy to the task in hand. The sonic detail is crucial as most comic delivery entails hearing every inflection of the voice with complete clarity right to the back of the room as they deliver the punch lines.
Steve ‘Patto’ Pattison mixed FOH using an Allen & Heath iLive-R72 system, with a single Shure SM 58 mic input and an iPod for special effects, so simplicity was the key.
Pattison chose the SM58 mic based on its great sound and the fact that it resembled the classic microphone image on one set of original tour publicity fliers.
The choice of speakers were L-Acoustics K1s for the main array, flown in various configurations depending on the venue, with the largest – London’s O2 – featuring 14 elements a side.
Delay arrays would typically be behind the FOH position. They had the choice of having either two or three of these to suit the space and shape of the room – with two arrays of 8 or 10 a side when in two-delay mode and a 6-6-6 configuration for the three hang option.
Adlib’s Michael Flaherty looked after monitors, using a Yamaha LS9 console … which had the one vocal in … and out … plus flown L-Acoustics ARCS sidefills.
Patto, Michael Flaherty and George Puttock were joined on the tour by Adlib Systems Tech Simon Lawson.
Lighting was overseen on the road by Lighting Director Charlie Rushton, who was also on the tour earlier in the year.
The rig was based around 12 x Martin MAC Quantum washes and 11 x MAC 700 profiles in the in the air, together with MAC 700 and MAC Viper Washes on the floor – 27 moving lights in total, all run from an Avolites Pearl Expert console.
Two Robert Juliat Cyrano follow-spots provided the only direct front light.
The format of the performance had changed slightly since the spring dates, and this time around there was a support act, so a kabuki truss also had to be flown mid-stage to hold the opening act backdrop as well as a white silk that dropped in for Howard’s intro – complete with some dramatic shadow play lighting effects – which was then jettisoned to reveal Howard’s mid and back trusses of lights.
Two 8ft up / downstage orientated trusses rigged both sides of the front edge of the stage facilitated side lighting positions for two MAC Quantum Washes per side.
Charlie worked alongside Jeff Bond and Jordan Willis on the lighting crew. The Tour Manager was Kumar Kamalagharan and the tour was Production Managed by Andy Grey.
Adlib Account Handler Phil Kielty comments, “We’ve been fortunate enough to work with Russell Howard for many years now and it has been a real privilege to watch him mature & grow within the live landscape. James Taylor, Bjorn Wentlandt and everyone at Avalon knows what works for their artists and we aim to deliver consistently for all of them. The Wonderbox Arena Tour completed a fantastic year for Adlib, and we are hoping for a great 2015 too.”