Veteran UK soul-pop band Simply Red have sung the praises of the Midas XL8 live performance system on their worldwide farewell tour which kicked off in Recif, Brazil in April.
Monitor engineer Graham Blake, whose 25 years’ experience includes working with Queen, Live Earth, Spice Girls and the Classical Brits as well as the last five years with Simply Red, says: “The band all commented on the warmth and richness of the sound. They really noticed the difference. I’ve never had a band respond to new equipment like that before.”
The tour provided Blake with the perfect opportunity to use the XL8 on the road for the first time, having completed the training with Midas’ brand development manager Richard Ferriday some eight months earlier. “Even with that kind of gap it was easy to pick up,” says Blake who was won over by the XL8’s scope and versatility, and eager to use it for real.
Blake’s tour set up, which is relatively straightforward as all the band use in-ear systems with no on-stage monitoring, comprises nine stereo in-ear mixes for the band and some of the backline techs, plus one mix for a sub bass cabinet for the drummer.
The POP(ulation) groups have been the stand out feature for Blake so far. “They make it so quick and easy to access a group of inputs for mixes,” he says, while also enthusing about the XL8’s onboard FX and dynamics.
“The onboard graphics are great and the onboard compression is really handy. There’s so much choice of compression, each has its own applications and it’s all right in front of you. I am also using all the onboard gates and comps, which are good enough for me not to need any outboard, and the reverbs perform really well.”
Blake is using the same console, on hire from Britannia Row, for the whole tour which encompasses over 80 dates across more than 25 countries.
“It’s been freighted in and out of planes all over South America already and has been more than robust,” says Blake, adding that Midas’s global support is a real benefit. “You know that if you ever did have a problem, you’ve got someone on call 24/7 wherever in the world you happen to be.”
Just two months into the tour, Blake is delighted. “The XL8 is a pleasure to use and so consistent. The band have real confidence in it so that the sound check has become something that’s more ‘nice to do’ rather than ‘essential to do’.
“I’ve been waiting a long time, but at last we have a digital console that produces that rich warm analogue sound with the unmistakeable Midas EQ. It’s great.”
Simply Red played the first UK date of their last ever tour on 11 June at Thetford Forest, Suffolk. They will be playing another 25 dates across the UK, at venues as diverse as Hampton Court Palace, Epsom Downs Racecourse and Cardiff International Arena, interspersed with numerous international shows, throughout the rest of the year. The tour ends at London’s O2 Arena on 19 December.