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Yamaha enjoys a remarkable tour with Bill Bailey

Jan,2010

Take one very successful comedian who happens to be a highly proficient musician; add a number of the UK’s best regional orchestras; an Oscar-winning conductor and two Yamaha mixing consoles, put them all in a touring package and the result is something remarkable. Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra, in fact.

Bailey’s comedic reworking of various familiar musical themes has been a central part of his act since the beginning. To this he recently added a wry and amusing look at the different instruments in the orchestra, the result being Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra. This production made its debut in 2008 on a few low-key dates, before coming to national attention via shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall, one of which was recorded and broadcast on BBC television.

The end of 2009 saw the show taken on tour to London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin, Belfast, Liverpool, Warwick and Gateshead, using a different local orchestra at each venue. Featuring a Yamaha PM5D and M7CL at FOH, the audio system was provided by Bridgend-based Sonalyst and designed by company owner Rory Madden with Yamaha’s Nick ‘Biggles’ Pemberton.

With Academy Award-winning conductor Anne Dudley a central part of the show, husband Roger was no less fundamental to the technical production as touring front of house engineer.

Audio from the orchestral instruments was fed to the 48-channel PM5D, via an analogue multicore. Here sound crew chief Martin Walker submixed the orchestra to 16 channels, which he sent via Ethersound to the M7CL, manned by Roger.

Meanwhile, three Yamaha SB168-ES stage boxes took feeds from drums, bass and the instruments played by Bailey - guitars, keyboards, microphones and of course his infamous theremin - relaying them via Ethersound direct to the M7CL.

“The SB168-ES provides a number of advantages,” says Nick. “Using Ethersound means you have less cable so trucking costs are minimised, load in and out is easier and there’s also a brand new mic pre-amp in it, so it enhances the sound quality of vocals and miked instruments.”

“The M7CL was a desk I hadn’t worked with before, but Nick was there on day one and the crew knew the desk very well, so once the general set up was explained it was fairly obvious. I took to it quite quickly,” adds Roger.

With the different parts of the orchestra soundchecked individually before each show, thanks to the PM5D submix Roger was able to group the entire orchestra on one of the M7CL’s faders, leaving him able to concentrate more on Bailey’s characteristically energetic performance.

“My main priority was to get as clear a sound as possible. There were a lot of vocal microphones onstage and I couldn’t leave them open all the time, because of the potential for feedback,” Roger continues.

“I tried to have one open at a time, depending on which mic Bill was running to. But he didn’t always do the same thing at each gig. Sometimes he would go off on a tack and do something different, so my eyes were glued on him. But I only missed a couple of words, now and then!”

With the instrumentation and Bailey’s humorous arrangements providing many of the ‘effects’, the M7CL’s onboard processors weren’t worked very hard. But there were occasions when they proved essential.

“In one section Bill needed a repeat on his voice, which was dead easy to set up using the Yamaha desk,” notes Roger. “There were a few sections we needed a bit of reverb, depending on the hall. But otherwise it was basic EQ and compression.”

“I was very pleased with the sound. It was a very good crew, the equipment was exceptional, worked well and was always set up on time. It was a pleasure to be involved.”

Data

Products PM5D , SB168-ES , M7CL-48

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