Nashville, TN (August 11, 2015)—Kenny Chesney’s current tour has sold more than 1 million tickets—just like his previous 12 tours did. That kind of fan following is rare in music, of course, but it underlines the wisdom of the singer’s efforts to ensure fans get their money’s worth in return. Part of that includes making sure they can hear every note as well as possible—a challenge in some of the massive venues the star plays.
With that in mind, under the leadership of tour manager Ed Wannebo, Chesney’s production team and crew aim to maximize the stadium-sized experience without losing the intimacy of the musical performance. Nashville-based Morris Light and Sound (ML&S) of Nashville is providing production audio and lighting. Working with Chesney’s front-of-house engineer Chris Rabold, they have pioneered the use of Nexo’s STM Series modular line array to deliver in stadium-size venues. The 2015 Big Revival Tour marks ML&S and Rabold’s second outing with Nexo.
The most visible changes this year is the inclusion of a new downfill cabinet to the system. The M28 module was added to the STM Series at the end of last year, and Rabold describes it as “the missing piece of the puzzle. One of its primary uses for us is as a downfill, but I don’t think of it as a traditional downfill box at all. That usually means a cabinet smaller in size that often times doesn’t share the same voicing as the array above it, and that’s definitely not the case with M28. It’s an extension, which is voiced very similarly to the M46 main cabinet, so it’s just giving us that extra bit at the bottom of the array. And it is very, very controllable; I can manipulate it if I choose to, but a lot of the time I really don’t need to because it’s so seamless and smooth. M28 also works great for the delays and the 270 box hangs, so it’s been a pleasure to work with.”
ML&S systems engineer John Mills echoes Rabold’s point about the voicing. “We work together on the tuning, and then Chris works his magic on the console. The M28s are a problem-solver. Because the M46s are so powerful, we found ourselves wanting to turn them down, but of course if you do that, you break the line array. M28 has acoustically less output, so it’s the right box to have on the bottom of the line. When you walk between the seam, and it changes boxes, you would expect something fairly significant to happen, but M46 to M28 is a very, very smooth transition.”
While the system changes from venue to venue, depending on needs, there’s no question the Chesney tour is carrying a big rig, with main hangs: 24x M46 + 24x B112 + 2x M28 x2, Sub bass: 24x S118 flown x2, 24 ground-stacked across center, Aux hangs: 15x M46 + 15xB112 + 3x M28 x2, 270 hangs (90° offstage for the side and back, at the top): 12x M28 x2, Delays: 12x M28 x2, Nexo NUARs featuring NXAMPs. Everything is run on fibre via Dante.
System configuration does differ quite a bit, but only in numbers of boxes, never audio Mills said. “A few shows ago, for example, I was 18 and 2 on the mains, and now we’re 24 and 2, so that’s going to change the array length and low-mid section of it. Then a few shows later, we were 18 and 3; and we’ve done smaller still, such as a 12 and 3. So it’s scaling almost in half in some of our venues, but the beauty of STM is, it really does translate. Array length will change some low frequency, and how much there is of it, but tonally, this system is really exceptional, and consistent.”
In 2013, Morris Light & Sound was the first major rental company to put STM onto a premium tour, and it increased its already substantial investment the following year, adding the M28 modules to its inventory. ML&S CEO and President David Haskell remain in close contact with the North American commercial audio team at Yamaha Professional Audio, and with Nexo in France.
While the audio team is pleased with the system, so is the client. “Every year we go out, I try to make the sound as crisp and as loud as possible, which is seemingly impossible,” said Chesney. “I’m very lucky that my team combs the globe looking for the best possible options to make that happen–and they’re as relentless as I am about what they do. When they said they found a PA system in France that could be twice as loud and was smaller, I wasn’t sure I believed them, but I respect them enough to listen. Sure enough, they were right! The amount of sound these speakers put out is amazing, but it’s also super-clear which is always the challenge. You want people to make out the lyrics, for them to be able to pick out the instruments. No matter how loud we are, those things can happen.”