JPS Australia

History

Icehouse – 40 Years Live

Icehouse 40 1

Photo © Troy Constable

With a career spanning 40 years, iconic Australian band Icehouse has continued to delight millions with their music, well-known and loved by audiences across generations. Icehouse began in 1977 as a Sydney-based pub rock band called Flowers, who were the highest paid unsigned act in Australia at the time.

In 2006, Icehouse was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame, being described as ‘…one of the most successful Australian bands of the 80s and 90s’. Icehouse’s 1987 album Man of Colours remains to this day as the highest-selling album in Australia by an Australian band.

With a history like that, it’s no wonder the band have been selling out their 40 Years Live Tour this year as it travels the country … with more dates just announced!

Touring with an audio package from JPJ Audio, the tour utilized in-house PA systems where available with JPJ supplying speaker systems when required. FOH Engineer Richie Robinson, who has mixed for the band since their return to live shows in 2011, used an Avid Venue S6L saying it is one of the best mixing consoles on the market. He travels with absolutely no extra FOH equipment, which reinforces how good the console sounds on its own.

I had used an Avid Profile since 2007 and always loved working on it,” he remarked. “However, it got to a stage where I thought ‘well that’s the sound of it’ and decided to try some other consoles that had better preamps and a more open sound stage. While I usually liked the sound of them, I didn’t fall in love with their operating systems as much as I did with the Avid Venue gear. When the Venue S6L came along and I tried it out, I was blown away with how good it sounded. It’s a real win for Avid and I think you’re going to see a lot more of them.

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Photo © Troy Constable

When Richie used to mix Icehouse on an Avid Profile, he implemented a combination of Waves plug-ins and outboard reverbs but he’s been happy with the way the onboard fx plugins sound with the new console.

With the combination of the new audio engine in the console running at 96khz and the plug-ins running on the AAX DSP cards, even the Avid reverbs sound a whole lot better to me,” added Richie. “I’ve gone back to using the ReVibe reverb which sounds really good and other than that, I bought a few 3rd party plugins for some other eq, compression and saturation flavors. I miss some of my Waves plug-ins but it’s been cathartic to ditch what you’ve been using for so long and just go ‘wow, that sounds so good just straight out of the console!

One 3rd party plug-in that Richie has used often with Icehouse is the Brainworx bx-console channel strip by Plugin Alliance which he implements over many channels. “There’s a subtle character thing going on with that plug-in that suited this band” said Richie.

Richie uses the Snapshot and Layout features on the console for all the songs – mainly for turning on and off required input channels and for keeping the top fader layer populated with the key input elements for each song. He also found that snapshotting the effects on the Venue S6L was a very handy tool. As Iva Davies wrote and produced so many of Icehouse’s tunes, he can be quite specific with the echoes and delays used on the original recorded versions so Richie decided to snapshot all of the echo effects. That way he doesn’t have to worry about adding the correct tap tempo to each song – when he recalls the snapshot to the next song all of the stored effect parameters are recalled.

Microphones were fairly standard with a selection of Shure wired and radio microphones, a couple of AKG414’s for drum overheads plus Sennheiser and Audio-Technica Australia microphones. “We have a Shure KSM9 for when Iva plays an oboe in Man of Colours and that’s probably the funkiest mic we have.” said Richie. “We’ve tried a few different mics on it but that’s the one we kept coming back to.

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Photo © Troy Constable

Onstage, the band are all on Shure PSM1000 IEM’s with most of them using the Shure SE846 ear buds. In addition, Iva has a couple of d&b audiotechnik M4 wedges in front of him as he occasionally removes one of his IEMs. Sidefills are L-Acoustics Arcs with dv-Subs and the drum sub is a pair of d&b Q-subs. Monitor Engineers for the tour were Paul Kennedy (now out with Midnight Oil) and Matt Debien who both used a Yamaha PM5D with an Apogee Big Ben word clock.

JPS purchase a Digidesign Venue console

JPS has added a Digidesign VENUE D-Show™ system to its already extensive range of consoles.Digidesign Venue
Greg Nelson pictured with the Digidesign Venue console at Sydney’s Acer Arena

Speaking about the purchase JPS General manager, Jim Straw, said “JPS purchased the Digidesign VENUE as part of our commitment to supplying the latest technology to our clients. Due to its stable platform, reliability and constant appearance on technical riders. We are now the first rental company in Australia to offer a fully optioned 96ch D-Show Console.”

The Digidesign VENUE console has made its debut for JPS on the current Pearl Jam tour with front of house engineer Greg Nelson in the drivers seat. Having graduated from a Midas XL4 to a Yamaha PM5D last year, Greg decided to switch to the VENUE console four months ago.

I’m very comfortable operating the VENUE, stated Greg at the band’s sold-out Sydney gig. It’s laid out so well and is very user friendly. It sounds fantastic and makes my job so much easier. I can go anywhere with just my USB key, plug into the console and my whole mix is up. I believe that making the switch from an analogue console to the VENUE is easier than any other digital console. You’re not consciously thinking about how to do things, you just find yourself doing it instinctively. It makes the mixing more emotion driven than cerebral.

Greg believes that the wide variety of plug-ins available for the VENUE bring a whole new element to a live digital console. They add all sorts of different colour to everything, he said. It makes the console a lot of fun to mix on.

The Pearl Jam audio rig supplied by JPS also included an L-Acoustics V-DOSC speaker system, Crown amplifiers and BSS system drive whilst the band tours its own monitoring equipment.

JPS has been fantastic and Paul Schofield in particular has taken great care of me, added Greg. When turned on, the PA sounded just as it should and that’s all you can ask for. Everything I requested via email was here and working perfectly. The JPS crew (Tristan Johnson, Guy Gilchrest and Tim Seconi) are nice, pleasant to be around and it’s been a really good experience.

Digidesign