London (November 3, 2006)–Culture Club may have been a band, but let’s face it–without the gender-bending, court-date-missing lead singer, Boy George, the group wasn’t a club, merely a few musicians playing pop songs. Don’t tell that to Jon Moss (Drums), Mikey Craig (Bass), Phil Pickett (songwriter and keyboard player) and Tony Gordon (manager), however; earlier this year, they re-entered the UK touring circuit with a new singer, Sam The Man, to temporarily replace George, and the band’s re-emergence began with a show at London’s Too2Much club, where front of house engineer Mark Portlock and monitor engineer Liam Halpin made interesting use of the venue’s DiGiCo D1 Live digital mixing console.
Liam Halpin with the DiGiCo desk he didn’t see throughout the first Culture Club reunion show.Playing a small venue like Too2Much brought with it the normal conundrum of how to fit all the equipment into very limited space. The solution was to use just one console for both the front of house and monitor mixes. “It just kinda developed really,” said Halpin. “We started out by planning to split the channels, so we had monitor channels on layers below the FoH channels, as there was no room in the club to put a separate monitor desk.
“We had no production rehearsals or prep time either, so I was programming the desk on the day of the gig while Mark and Keith Reynolds (stage manager) got everything else ready. I decided to hook up a laptop running the remote software for the D1 so that I could make adjustments to the monitors. But as soundcheck drew nearer, I realized running backwards and forwards to front of house was going to be a nightmare for a nine-piece band, especially as time was already looking tight for soundcheck.
“So I decided to try a remote desktop control of one computer from my other laptop via a wireless connection. I had tried this before, but it hadn’t been successful. I gave it a go and realized very quickly that the communication between the two computers was too slow to be any use. So I decided to abandon the Wired connection and the second laptop, and just plug the wireless unit straight into the desk. Once I’d reset the IP addresses it just worked.
“I got through the soundcheck mixing the monitors while actually standing behind the artists on stage. Some of the band were quite confused about why there was this bloke wandering around the stage holding a laptop, until we explained the PC was actually the monitor desk!”
Halpin had some control groups setup as separate mute groups for monitors and FOH. To make sure these were permanently available on the control surface, and still allow Portlock his eight VCAs, Halpin programmed mute control onto the Macro buttons on the surface along with Delay Tap tempo.
“Because the band’s mix consisted of 28 channels, by the time I’d doubled everything up and added effects and media, the channel count had gone over the standard 64 channels that the desk was configured for,” said Halpin. “I reconfigured the desk to enable us to up the amount of processing to cope with 96 channels.
“That many channels on a postage stamp of a desk is quite crazy, but the D1 took it all in its stride and performed flawlessly even though I didn’t see it throughout the show.”