Sir Elton John – who surely has a claim to being the hardest working man in showbusiness now that James Brown has passed on – is on the road once again with Yamaha consoles and instruments in tow.
While Elton himself is playing a Yamaha CFIIIS Concert Grand series piano and his two cellists are using Yamaha SVC110 Silent Cellos, the tech spec is also very much a Yamaha-dominated affair.
As on previous tours, Yamaha consoles have been specified in both positions: a PM5000 at FOH, operated by Matt Herr, and a PM1D at monitors, manned by Alan Richardson.
“Elton’s long-time front of house engineer Clive Franks retired last year, but I had been working with him for about eight years and already had plenty of experience in mixing the shows, so I was happy to step into his shoes,” said Herr. “It made for a seamless transition when Clive decided to ‘come off the road’.”
Regard the continuity of Yamaha specification, Herr added that “Alan has been using the PM1D since it came out and Clive used the PM5000 with Elton for a long time. I did think about moving to the PM1D, but in the end I thought ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. I like the PM5000 and Elton’s shows are all about a real band playing real instruments, so I think the shows deserve an analogue sound.”
The monitor set-up combines wedges and in-ears, with Alan using only the PM1D’s onboard effects, while at FOH Matt uses a limited amount of outboard. “It’s basically a Lexicon 480, a couple of harmonisers to spread the sound of the backing vocals and a couple of delays on Elton’s vocals,” he said.
The Yamaha SVC110 Silent Cellos, meanwhile, have allowed the team to overcome problems caused by high onstage levels. Noted Herr: “The cellists were sceptical at first, but they were won over as soon as they tried them.”
Summing up, Herr reflected: “What you need on a tour like this is gear that works reliably and truly global support. It’s like having a warm blanket. We all know that the equipment is extremely reliable and the technical backup is second to none. Yamaha looks after us really well.”
After UK and European dates through June and July, John will play numerous dates in the US during September and October, before more European and Australasian dates in November and December.
Image credit: Diana Johnson