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Solotech supplied a full control package for producer-songwriter James Blake’s UK and European dates in support of his latest album release Playing Robots Into Heaven.
British artist James Blake has been a linchpin in contemporary popular music. Alongside his production work with artists such as Travis Scott and Beyonce, his solo work takes in a wide range from his solo electronics with forlorn vocals to more traditional songwriting forms.
Following the release of Playing Robots into Heaven, James Blake undertook a short European seven date tour before returning to the UK for a sell out show at London’s Alexandra Palace. Solotech supplied a full control for the European dates before bringing in a d&b audiotechnik GSL system for the London gig.
Solotech Project Manager for the tour was Franc Le Moignan, who combined this role with mixing monitors for James Blake, an artist she has toured with for eight years. Franc has a reputation as an accomplished mix engineer, having worked with many high-profile artists over the years including Lily Allen, Beth Ditto, Richard Hawley, and The Streets. Since joining Solotech in 2022 she has sought to reduce her touring commitments, but James Blake remains a project close to her heart.
Franc commented, “The PM role with Solotech is pretty full on, so the days of regular touring are behind me. I still get to mix on one off Solotech gigs to keep my hand in. However, when the James Blake dates were mentioned, I knew I wanted to take them on. Off the back of this we were able to put in a successful bid for the control and PA packages, which is a first with this artist.
The Solotech control package featured a pair of DiGiCo SD10s for Franc Le Moignan’s monitor mix and for Alex Procter at FOH. The consoles were configured with separate SD racks running on their own independent loops. At FOF Alex opted for a pair of Waves Extreme Servers along with additional analogue outboard running through an Andiamo via a MADI connection to the SD10 console surface. On stage the band all had stereo mixes through d&b M2 monitors with the addition of a B6 sub for the drum fill.
The European dates all relied on local PA at each venue, but for the larger Alexandra Palace UK date, Solotech were contracted to supply a full Arena PA package. Main L-R hangs comprised 14 x d&b audiotechnik GSL per side, with side hangs of 6 x d&b V-Series extending the lateral coverage. 16 x d&b SL Subs were placed single height across the stage apron and delays of 6 x V-Series per side ensured even SPL coverage to the rear of the auditorium.
As a music venue Alexandra Palace throws up some unique audio challenges. The 150 year old Grade II listed building has a glass roof and sits on top of a hill, surrounded by residential London suburbs. Delivering the high SPL levels for the audience, while keeping the off-site noise below the licence threshold can be a constant battle for the FOH engineer. However, the d&b GSL system features built in cardioid, resulting in very low SPL levels on stage and behind the PA. David Leversedge, of noise consultants Aria Acoustics, explained: ‘We’ve had no issues. At Alexandra Palace we monitor three points off site, two of which are behind the stage. The d&b performed excellently and it’s always reassuring when we know it’s a Solotech gig.”
Franc Le Moignan was delighted with how the tour had gone: “The European dates with the control package all worked really well and then bringing the PA in for the UK date went seamlessly. It’s been a great couple of weeks for me but now it’s time to go back to the day job.”
“Every one in the James Blake team, from the band to the production team are a pleasure to work with and I hope we can all work together again in the near future.”
FOH Engineer: Alex ProctorMonitor Eng & Solotech PM: Franc Le Moignan Stage Tech: Pete Bonnebaight
PA Crew for Alexandra PalaceSystem Tech: Sid RogersonPA Tech: Simon Andrews
James Blake: https://www.jamesblakemusic.com/