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Cher “Here We Go Again” World Tour

Steve Jennings (Photos & Text) • December 2019Production Profile • December 14, 2019

CHER © Steve Jennings

Cher is out on her “Here We Go Again” world tour, where the singer and actress performs hits from her 50-year career. The Grammy, Emmy and Academy Award winner delights the audience throughout the show with various costumes changes highlighting those periods of her iconic time in the spotlight, bringing back those great memories in music and imagery.

The Solotech-supported tour kicked off Sept. 21, 2018 and — after a February, 2020 residency at the Park Theater in Las Vegas — “Here We Go Again” will go out once more, concluding on May 6, 2020. We spoke with FOH engineer Steve Guest, systems engineer Marc-Olivier Germain and monitor engineer Nick Stover during a stop at San Francisco’s new Chase center.

(L-R) FOH engineer Steve Guest and systems engineer Marc-Olivier Germain.

‡‡         The FOH Perspective

Personnel changes are not unknown on tours, and especially with an outing this extensive, hardly unexpected. Guest is currently the FOH engineer for Cher’s tour but was not the original engineer. When he came onboard, the sound company, system and FOH setup was already selected, but he notes he was already familiar with the L-Acoustics system and the DiGiCo SD7, having used them on past tours.

“I felt very comfortable with the whole setup. Cher always saves her voice for the show but I was comfortable enough to do my first show without her even coming to the sound check,” Guest explains. “The SD7 has plenty of built-in processing power. There are a couple Bricasti M7 reverbs in the rig, which I Iove, but use sparingly. There are a couple of Rupert Neve Designs Portico II Master Bus processors on vocal sub-groupings and a pair of Portico 5043 compressors used for bass drum subgroup, snare subgroup and stereo toms subgroup that I kept in the rig. They were new to me but I’m becoming a fan of the Portico stuff. I can get sonic nuances beyond what’s typical for hardware.”

On working with Cher, Guest notes that “she has a beautifully rich voice. The main challenge for me was delivering that to the audience intact. I wanted her vocal to sound intimate for her monologue, but still be able to cut through the music mix. My technique ended up being not to use much technique. Over-processing can destroy intelligibility and presentation, so I do as little EQ and limiting as possible combined with some fader riding, otherwise I’d run into gain before feedback problems.” He keeps that minimalist approach in terms of EQ as well, “using HPF & LPF do most of the heavy lifting, EQ-wise. I do the same few small cuts and one boost on all her vocal mics. SD7 dynamic EQ and the Portico II’s do the rest to keep her vocal presentation in place. The rest is fitting her great band just behind her dynamically so she stays out front. It’s a fun mix (“Burlesque” being a favorite). I listen to virtual sound check playback every show day on a pair of near-field monitors and make minor adjustments and improvements prior to sound check.”

Guest did add a couple of Waves servers to the signal chain, but again, just a few plug-ins; C6 on the main system L&R (a must-have for him), Puigchild (a Fairchild limiter emulation (also a “must have,” he says), S1 Stereo Imager, which he uses as a special effect bus to widen other effects and channels for specific songs. “It helps create more center space for Cher’s vocal while allowing those things to have their own space as well.” Then TrueVerb, where Guest says he loves its depth for certain things.

Audio techs (L-R): Evan Rainwater, Hilario Gonzalez and David Barriault.

‡‡         The System

Guest partners with systems engineer Marc-Olivier “Marco” Germain, and says “it’s great having someone technically knowledgeable as Marco with the tools he uses to translate what I’m doing at FOH to the rest of an arena. With every setup, we take one of Cher’s vocal mics and walk the whole arena, checking coverage and tone balance. It’s getting to the point where it’s becoming an almost cursory practice. This is a great show and I’m blessed with a great crew, headed up by Hilario Gonzalez.”

Having worked with Cher’s residency show in Las Vegas for a couple of years, it’s no surprise that Solotech is handling the tour. “I’ve been a full-time employee of Solotech for 10 years before I started my own company Méduse Audio. I know all the guys there and we have a great relationship,” says Germain, adding it made sense to stay with Solotech for the tour. “I’m using an L-Acoustics system, all powered by LA12X amplifiers, with the signal distribution taken care of by two Meyer Sound Galaxy processors at FOH — one for AVB streaming and the second one for analog redundancy.”

L-Acoustics ARCS II used as front fills atop stacked SB18 subs

In terms of the rig itself, “the system consists of 14 L-Acoustics K1 and four K2 per side on the main hangs,” Germain notes. “Next to that you have eight KS28 subs/side in a cardioid configuration with the middle two elements reversed. On the side hangs, I’m using 16 K2 cabinets running the 90-degree presets. We also have 270 hangs, consisting of 16 Karas. On the floor we have 10 KS28 subs distributed evenly in five stacks of two across the front of the stage. On the outside four stacks, I’m using an ARCS II cabinet for front fill and I have two X8 coaxial speakers on the center sub stack.”

During the show itself, Germain will walk the venue and make tweaks if needed and readjust sub timing once the floor is filled. I started using a MOTU Stage B16 rack in the drive rack to do all measurements. It allows me to use the SIM outputs from the Galaxy via AVB to look at EQ curves like I used to do with the Meyer SIM 3. The built-in mixer lets me generate press feeds and hearing-impaired feeds that are pre-EQ, so none of the system EQs are applied to those feeds. The loaded SD7 is a great way to generate more feeds.”

Monitor engineer Nick Stover

‡‡         Monitorworld

Nick Stover started working with Cher in 2016 as an RF coordinator and monitor tech. After the previous monitor engineer (Martin Pre) left the show, production brought Stover in due to his knowledge of Cher’s mix and familiarity working with her. “I have had the privilege of mixing her since May of this year. I’m mixing on a DiGiCo SD7 — a staple of many large productions, with its amazing bus and channel counts, great sound, as well its practicality and ease of use.”

Stover says Cher’s band makes any monitor engineer’s life easier having musical director Ollie Marland insist on nothing but quality gear and precision from the band. Stover’s only outboard gear is a Bricasti M7 for Cher’s reverb. As for onboard effects, he uses the standard DiGiCo reverbs and the DiGiCo tube emulation. “Mic preamps are the soul of the sound,” he notes, with DiGiCo mastering that.

“Costume changes are frequent within the show and you can’t have a microphone that doesn’t match the outfit!” There are four different color custom mics they use — all are Sennheiser SKM5200 handhelds with MD5325 capsules.

The drum kit uses a variety of mics: On the kick is a Shure Beta 91A (inside) and an Audix D6 (outside); snare top is a Shure SM57 with a Beta57 underneath. One hi-hat has an Audio-Technica ATM450 (two more ATM450 are also used for overheads), while the second hi-hat has a Neumann KM184; all tom mics are Sennheiser e904s.

“On this tour, I couldn’t ask for a better monitor tech — Hilario Gonzalez — because he is so much more than that,” says Stover. “He is also our crew chief and RF coordinator and has been my friend for years. Honestly, everyone on this crew is unparalleled in their knowledge, which makes day-to-day touring easy. Solotech has a great support team. I am who I am as a technician because of the support of some of the world’s best mentors. From the old school know-how of Mario Leccese and wisdom of Dean Roney, to the go-getter attitude of Shaimaa El-Sayed, the list goes on and on.”

CHER © Steve Jennings

Cher’s “Here We Go Again” World Tour

AUDIO CREW

  • Sound Company: Solotech
  • FOH Engineer: Steve Guest
  • Systems Engineer: Marc-Olivier Germain
  • Monitor Engineer: Nick Stover
  • Monitor/RF Tech, Crew Chief: Hilario Gonzalez
  • PA Tech: David Barriault
  • Stage Tech: Evan Rainwater

P.A. GEAR

  • Main Hang/side: (14) L-Acoustics K1, (4) K2
  • Side Hang: (16) K2/side
  • 270 Hangs: (16) Kara/side
  • Subs: (26) L-Acoustics KS28
  • Front Fills: (4) ARCS II, (2) X8 coaxials
  • Amplifiers: LA12X

FOH GEAR

  • FOH Console: DiGiCo SD7
  • Outboard: (2) Bricasti M7 reverbs; (2) Rupert Neve Designs Portico II Master Bus processors, (2) Portico 5043 compressors; (2) Waves servers with C6, Puigchild, S1 Stereo Imager and TrueVerb
  • Drive: (2) Meyer Sound GALAXY

MON GEAR

  • Monitor Console: DiGiCo SD7
  • Outboard: Bricasti M7
  • IEM Hardware: Shure PSM1000
  • Wireless Mics: Custom Sennheiser SKM5200 with MD5325 capsules; Shure Axient Digital
  • Drum Mics: Audio-Technica ATM450s; Audix D6; Neumann KM184; Sennheiser e904s; Shure Beta 91A, SM57, Beta57

 

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