Depeche – Britrow makes it feel right
It may have been over thirty years since Depeche Mode last visited but that lengthy absence has not diminished the enthusiasm of their Barrowlands audience. “It’s a classic gig,” said Antony King, the band’s front of house sound engineer. “Back in the day, if you were doing a tour of the UK, Glasgow Barrowlands was usually the best show of the tour.” King is not alone in that assessment. Many a sound engineer can confirm that Barrowlands is a cracker; one good reason why Depeche Mode was booked as the headline act for the BBC 6 Music festival the weekend of the 25th and 26th March 2017.
“Although the European stadium tour doesn’t start until May, we are in Europe for a few weeks promoting the new album, Spirit, doing a mix of TV shows and promo underplay concerts like this one for the BBC,” says King. “We are carrying control and monitors provided by Britannia Row. Brit Row have been with Depeche Mode for nearly 30 years and do a great job. It makes a huge difference hitting the road knowing that Bryan and co’ have your back. With a band of this calibre and a mixture of Analog, Madi and Dante spread over 100+ channels, you need a company that has the vision and expertise to pull it off. Brit Row has more than delivered.”
For the Barrowlands show, Brit Row also provided a full concert system. “We flew an L-Acoustic K2 system,” said King. “The low ceiling means that it sounded more like a ground stack, but that’s part of the charm of this gig. The low ceiling harnesses all the audience noise, sweat and energy and really gets the band fired up. It's always amazing in there.”
Since the ‘Delta Machine’ Tour, King has replaced his Midas XL8 with an SSL Live console. “I loved the XL8, but the SSL L500 is a natural move forward and has the tried and tested SSL pre-amps from its studio heritage. You can't go wrong. The console does more than double what the XL8 could do. Do I need 300 input channels? Probably not, but there is plenty more I can and do use. It’s a great desk.”
Sarne Thorogood, the band’s long-time monitor engineer, has also changed desks relatively recently, moving to a Midas Pro X. Like King, he has a certain affection for Barrowlands. “When you do promos and one offs like this, it’s a definite benefit knowing your control package comes from a company that knows you well. Brit Row has always been rock solid in that respect. I was quite at home and, like Antony, I find that audience noise from this venue really lifts the atmosphere. Although the band are largely on in ears, I didn’t have any problem with spill from the crowd into the vocal mics. In fact, I still rigged ambience mics to be able to add to the mix when appropriate.”
Dave Compton, who manages the Depeche Mode account for Brit Row, also arranged for Terrence Hulkes to accompany King and Thorogood around Europe. “He was my system tech on the last Depeche Mode ‘Delta Machine’ tour three years ago and others tours since”, said King. "Terence is an integral part of our team and a technical genius, which gives me the peace of mind to focus on the show. With everything running off computers these days, you need that level of knowledge and expertise. He could rebuild the console in his sleep."
Depeche Mode’s ‘Global Spirit Tour’ is to promote the band’s fourteenth and latest album ‘Spirit’ and kicks off in Stockholm, Sweden on 5th of May. Brit Row will provide a full service package for all shows right up to the last on 23rd July in Cluj, Romania. “We then ship the system out to America,” said Compton, “where it picks up again on 23rd August in Salt Lake City, Utah touring both the US and Canada in amphitheatres and arenas for two months before heading to South America in March 2018.”
“This mini run of warm ups and promo has been going really well,” concluded King. “We have already done TV shows in Berlin and Paris, as well as the BBC 6 Music concert here in Glasgow. Having Brit Row at the Barrowlands gig was unique in that sense, as it made the entire night feel entirely familiar. This was a great show and everything felt just right.”