Depeche Mode 'Global Spirit' Tour

by Steve Jennings (Photo and Text)
in Cover Story
From left, Antony King (FOH engineer), Richard Trow (systems engineer) and Terence Hulkes (audio crew chief & FOH tech). Photo by Steve Jennings
From left, Antony King (FOH engineer), Richard Trow (systems engineer) and Terence Hulkes (audio crew chief & FOH tech). Photo by Steve Jennings

For more than 30 years, Depeche Mode — comprised of Dave Gahan (lead vocals), Martin Gore (guitar, keys, vocals) and Andrew Fletcher (keyboards) — have dominated the scene with their mix of electronic pop/rock/new wave and dance music. They have had 17 Top 10 albums in the U.K. charts and sold more than 120 million albums. On the road for the current Global Spirit tour, which runs until July of 2018, the band is accompanied by Christian Eigner (drums) and Peter Gordeno (keyboards, bass, backing vocals).

Depeche Mode keyboard player Andrew Fletcher. Photo by Steve Jennings

We spoke with audio crew members Antony King (FOH engineer), Sarne Thorogood (monitor engineer) and Terence Hulkes (audio crew chief/FOH tech).

Depeche Mode lead singer Dave Gahan. Photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         The FOH View

FOH engineer Antony King is mixing on a Solid State Logic L500 Plus console. “I am currently running a total of 134 inputs including effects, all going to a stereo output. The main thing that attracted me to SSL is their history of making great sounding boards and the 500 is no exception. The preamps sound fantastic and the surface is fun to use. It also has all the Duende plug-ins onboard. So you can have as many SSL bus compressors as you want.”

Guitarist and vocalist Martin Gore. Depeche Mode 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

King’s sound is not all plug-in based, however. “I always like trying new things,” he says. “My outboard rack gear includes Warm Audio WA76’s on Dave and Martin’s vocals. I can’t get enough of their products; they’re great sounding and reliable versions of classic gear. I’m running a TC Electronic M6000 — a versatile tool with amazingly natural reverbs. Also TC Electronic D2 controlled via MIDI from the desk, a Warm Audio WA2A and a EQP-WA on the bass, SPL Transient Designers on the drums, Chandler TG1 on the drum overheads, Smart C2 over the Left and Right. For system EQ, I’m using a Lake.”

Depeche Mode tour photo by Steve Jennings

King records all the shows using Magix Sequoia with an RME HDSPe MADI card. He also runs Universal Audio’s UAD plug-ins and notes that it’s great to be able to use emulation of vintage gear that doesn’t break on the road. “I like the RMX16, Galaxy Tape Echo and the Ampex ATR 102. The Galaxy Tape Echo is perfect for Dave’s voice. A short echo and a second one for a longer delay. I use an EMT plate on the tom toms, the RMX16 does the snare reverbs, while the Ampex really makes the keyboards sit nicely in the mix.”

The FOH rack. Photo by Steve Jennings

Despite all that potential for processing at his fingertips, King’s approach to mixing is straightforward. “I want the mix to be exciting. I’m trying to bring the energy and excitement of what is happening on stage to the audience, regardless of where they are seated, while doing justice to the songs and the legacy of Depeche Mode. We have a top-notch audio team with Terence, Richard and Alessandro. It’s a great band to work with, lovely people, and the input from the stage is fantastic.”

Britannia Row provided L-Acoustics K1 and K2 arrays with KS28 subs. Photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         The System

Britannia Row is the sound provider for the tour, with an L-Acoustics package, as audio crew chief Terence Hulkes explains. “Our main hangs have 14 L-Acoustics K1’s and four K2’s; side hangs have 14 K1’s and six K2’s. The flown sub hangs use 12 KS28’s, the 270 hangs have 12 KARA’s. Ground subs are 24 KS28’s; ground fills are KARA and ARCS II’s — all driven with L-Acoustics LA12X amplification via Lake LM44’s for signal distribution. The power distribution system and transformers are in-house, designed and built at Britannia Row.”

Subs and wedges. Depeche Mode tour photo by Steve Jennings

The L-Acoustics K1 system “travels everywhere with us,” according to King. “We keep the same system for Europe and the U.S. with a transformer, as the system is 240 VAC. I have used the K1’s many times over the years and I had the design in my head before we started. Flying the subs and the box count were decided at the start. But I always like trying new configurations, seeing if we can do something better. For previous tours we had used L-Acoustics V-DOSC, which I had loved for years. But the throw and the power of the K1 has been fantastic in the stadiums to really bring the audio closer to the fans.”

Christian Eigner's drum kit. Depeche Mode tour photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         Monitorworld

Monitor engineer Sarne Thorogood has worked with Depeche Mode for two decades. This is his first tour with the Midas Pro X, having used the Midas XL8 on the previous two outings. “I’m very happy with the Pro X console, I’m using four Midas DL431 preamp modules (96 available analog inputs), 120 inputs that include FX returns — 24 of these are via MADI BNC feeding Pro Tools and click tracks. For my output mixes, I have 10 stereo IEM’s that include all four techs we have and then myself.” Keyboardist Andy Fletcher is the only band member not on IEM; he uses stereo wedges.

Sarne Thorogood, monitor engineer. Photo by Steve Jennings

Because the stage runs as both wedge and IEM, there’s never an issue if anyone at any time takes out their IEM, plus the extra body and SPLs the wedges deliver dovetail with the IEM’s response and output limitations. “I’m using four mono wedge mixes — eight d&b M2’s downstage. There are five stereo wedge mixes with ten d&b M2’s at three keyboard positions, offstage MD and PFL along with one drum sub mix of two d&b Q subs and stereo sidefill sub mixes of two L-Acoustics SB28’s per side.” All wedge, sidefill and drum sub amps inputs are fed via digital AES.

Jez Webb, Martin Gore's guitar tech. Photo by Steve Jennings

For those on IEMs, this tour uses Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro earpieces for everyone. All IEM hardware is Sennheiser 2050, with 10 transmitters, two eight-way combiners and two helical antennas.

Compared to FOH, the monitor outboard rack is fairly sparse. “I use external reverbs, which are two TC M3000 for Dave’s vocal. The TC is great sounding and a very flexible unit. Finding that sweet spot comes without too much tweaking. I use external compressors/limiters — two Warm Audio WA76’s — which are very smooth for Dave’s vocal. The rest is all onboard and includes four reverbs for drums, which have an edge that really suits Christian’s drums. Then it’s two onboard Stereo DDL’s for Dave and onboard reverbs for BG vocals. It’s great to keep it all in the console.”

Andrew Fletcher's keyboards setup. Photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         Mics, Mics, Mics!

Frontman Dave Gahan and guitarist Martin Gore both use Beyerdynamic TG 1000 digital handheld wireless transmitters with hypercardioid TG V70w interchangeable capsules for their vocal performances. The band’s long-serving live sideman, Peter Gordeno, uses a wired version — the dynamic TG V70 live vocal mic.

So far, Thorogood has been impressed with the wireless mics. “The signal path is very clean and uncolored. I’m using six TC1000 channels. We found the V70 capsule the best suited for both Dave and Martin. The TC1000 units have proved to be very flexible on the world stage with their 470 - 789 MHz frequency span and used in conjunction with a 4-antenna combiner provides great range and coverage.”

Sarne Thorogood with the rack gear at monitors. Photo by Steve Jennings

The drum mic complement is all-Beyerdynamic, with a TG D71 boundary mic inside the kick and TG D70 outside. Hypercardioid TG D50’s handle snare top and bottom, with TG D58’s on the toms and TG D50’s in the two roto toms. M160 double ribbons for capture overheads and a MC 930 condenser is on hi-hat. Bass guitars go through a Radial Firefly tube DI. All the keyboards are straight out of RME Fireface UC.

The drum setup. Photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         Great Crew + Great Band = Great Tour

“To be a part of what Depeche Mode deliver night after night around the world still does it for me,” says Thorogood. “Being part of a world-class touring production that can deal with whatever is thrown at it makes me proud… and what great music! Also a solid crew makes for good touring. I love it!”

Dave Gahan with Beyerdynamic mic for vocals. Photo by Steve Jennings

Depeche Mode’s Global Spirit Tour 2017


  • Sound Company: Britannia Row
  • FOH Engineer: Antony King
  • FOH Systems Engineer: Richard Trow
  • Monitor Engineer: Sarne Thorogood
  • Monitor Tech: Alex Hore
  • FOH Tech/Audio Crew Chief: Terence Hulkes
  • Systems Engineer: Alessandro Cestaro
  • Tour Manager: Tim Lougee
  • Production Manager: Tony Gittins
  • Britannia Row Account Rep: Dave Compton
  • Stage Manager: Toby Plant
  • Backline Techs: Iain Robertson (drums), Jez Webb (guitar), Dan Roe (keyboards)
  • Programmer/MD: Kerry Hopwood

DEPECHE MODE tour photo by Steve Jennings


P.A. Gear

  • Main Speakers: L-Acoustics K1 & K2
  • Subwoofers KS28
  • Drive System: Lake Processing

FOH Gear

  • FOH Console: SSL L500 Plus

MON Gear

  • Monitor Console: Midas Pro X
  • Wedges: d&b Audiotechnik
  • IEMs: Sennheiser 2050
  • IEM Earpieces: Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro
  • Vocal Mics: Beyerdynamic V70d RF capsules and handhelds