In for the Kill: Behind the FOH desk on The Killers’ world tour
US indie rockers The Killers recently opted for Capital Sound’s Martin Audio MLA PA on their current world tour, with the UK leg concluding in two nights at London’s O2 Arena.
At the tail end of 2017, Las Vegas indie rock icons The Killers took in two nights at the O2 in London, bringing the curtain down on their stay on British soil in support of fifth studio album Wonderful Wonderful. Taking in arenas in cities up and down the country including Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Belfast, Leeds, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Nottingham and Sheffield, the UK leg of the tour had been met with acclaim from both critics and fans alike, with the show’s glam aesthetic and choir embellishment helping to breathe new life into classics from the deeper recesses of the band’s discography and ensuring the new material shone equally alongside.
Central to proceedings, of course, was the sound reinforcement system deployed by Capital Sound, which was centred around the firm’s MLA PA. Mixing duties for the two-night London stint were left in the capable hands of FOH engineer Kenny Kaiser and system tech Toby Donovan.
The band played through a Martin Audio set-up comprising main hangs of 17 MLA elements plus two MLD Downfills per side, with side hangs consisting of 12 MLA plus one MLD Downfill per side. Also deployed were secondary side hangs of 10 MLA Compact enclosures on each flank. The purpose of this was to ensure that while the main side hangs provided coverage up to around 8ft-12ft upstage of the downstage edge, the secondary hangs would infill the complete side stage seats with deluxe audio coverage.
Handling the low frequencies, five MLX subwoofers were flown on each side at a 45° angle between the main and side hangs, with a further 21 MLX set across the front in spaced 7 x 3 array ground stacks, with the bottom enclosure reversed. Completing the setup, six Martin Audio DD12s were used as front fills.
Commenting on his fondness for MLA systems, Kaiser told PSNEurope: “I still feel that the MLX is the best sub on the market. Nothing comes close. The only way other subs could come close is if there was a 1 to 1 ratio with the flown PA to subs on the ground. They hit hard, and knock your chest. And the fact that MLA can throw for days is amazing thing when doing arenas or even festivals. We have not had to plug into any house delay systems, it feels really good not having to use in house systems that have been there for 20 to 30 years.
Kaiser also highlighted the coverage capabilities of the system: “This box really throws — it’s insane. You can do any arena, you just put the system up and go. I’ve been sitting at 108dB — I had a peak at 112dB last night [at O2 Arena] so there’s tons of power in this thing and I’m barely tickling the green meters.
“When we were in Dublin, the producer of the band’s new album, Jacknife Lee, came out and said it was one of the better shows that he’d heard in there. He actually walked around the room and commented that it was great coverage everywhere.”
Kaiser was also keen to draw attention to efforts of the Capital Sound team on the tour.
“They’ve been absolutely awesome. The crew has been fantastic, super professional, and at the same time everyone gets to share a joke,” he said.
Donovan concluded: “I just love working on The Killers tour. I’ve done it for quite a few years now in various positions such as audio crew chief, front of house technician at festivals, and as a systems engineer as I am now. Kenny is just a great front of house engineer, his mix has such impact so it’s a real pleasure to work with him because the results are really superb.
“As the mix is rock-solid, our main aim was to get that translating into every venue and for the sound to be as similar as possible in every seat, which is challenging, but now we’ve got a PA system that helps us achieve those results.
“We’re using the latest version of the DISPLAY software to generate the presets, which somewhat dictates the coverage the PA achieves through the venue — as well as other factors like SPL profile or if you want to achieve any particular avoidance areas of balcony front, or make the stage a bit quieter. We’re just allocating most of the DSP in order to achieve a decent smooth SPL profile through the venue.”