Fleetwood Mac, Staples Center, Los Angeles, July 3, 2013
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
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Fleetwood Mac doesn’t stop

At a November 1979 New York press conference, attended by this reporter, to promote the release of Fleetwood Mac’s then new album, Tusk, bassist John McVie refuted a rumor that the band was on the verge of breaking up: “We’re doing all right, but I don’t see Fleetwood Mac in wheelchairs playing ‘Rhiannon.'”

They’re not getting carted around yet, but over 30 years later, Fleetwood Mac remains a major league concert draw for Baby Boomers, and as such, the band had so much gear that the 49-city U.S. leg, which began in April and ended in July, required a dozen 53-foot trailers to carry equipment for every stop, including the June 22 show at the Jones Beach Amphitheatre in Wantagh, NY. As it has for decades, Clair [Lititz, PA] provided audio for the band’s journey.

The 2013 tour’s FOH engineer was Dave Kob, who was a system engineer on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours tour in 1978. The main monitor engineer was Dave Coyle, who found invaluable having at his disposal Kob’s deep-rooted knowledge of the band’s live sound tastes. Coyle mixed on stage for “the girls,” meaning Stevie Nicks, but also backup singers Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks. He says Nicks directed him to “listen to the band’s studio albums” to hear what it should sound like. Coyle worked one Fleetwood Mac show in 2009 as a fill-in monitor engineer, and then was asked to work a Nicks solo tour. He’s been on the 2013 Fleetwood Mac tour from its start.

The other monitor engineer, Ed Dracoules, handled the band’s main “guys,” including Buckingham, Fleetwood, and McVie, while Coyle also mixed the band’s two also male backline musicians: keyboardist Brett Tuggle and second guitarist Neale Heywood. The twin monitor boards were both DiGiCo SD10s.

The monitor set-up used a combination of in-ear monitors and wedges. Nicks has been using Future Sonics’ MG5Pros for a little over a year. “Stevie likes how the Future Sonics have a real driver, a real speaker, while Mick and Lindsey like loud wedges,” Coyle explained, adding that the lead vocalist also pays a lot of attention to the FOH mix. He characterized the effects as being pretty simple. “Luckily in the 1970s, they didn’t have a lot of effects,” Coyle quipped. “They’re a straight-forward rock band.”

The Jones Beach show was one of three outdoor shows on the 49-date tour, the others being Comcast Arena in Mansfield, MA, and the Hollywood Bowl. The change, however, was welcomed by Kob at the FOH position.

“Everything changes for an outdoor show,” said Kob. “Indoors shows are way more reverberant. I use my effects a lot more when I’m outside.” Still, he said the end goal was the same: “Translate out here what they’re playing on stage. This is such a different band than what recorded Rumours 35 years ago. There’s no comparison. They were basically folk-rock then and a little left-over blues from the old Fleetwood Mac/Peter Green days. Now it’s louder, a different feel. It rocks more now than in 1978. That’s what it evolved into.”

Kob explained his involvement with the band when it was at its record-selling peak. “Richard Dashut, who was the engineer on Rumours, mixed their first two tours [with the Buckingham/Nicks lineup], and I was a system engineer. It was a very long tour. My first tour mixing for them was Mirage (1982). Then I had a long hiatus with them, and I was doing other stuff [including touring with Madonna, The Eagles, The Who, and Page & Plant, among other notables]. I didn’t work with Fleetwood Mac again until The Dance in 1997. I didn’t hear from them again until ’09, when I did the tour with them four years ago. And here we are again. So it’s only been four tours, but spanning over 32 years.”

Did all that historical knowledge help with anything that might come up in 2013? “You know what you’re getting into in advance,” Kob laughed. “I know them all individually, so that always helps — familiar face and all that. I do most of Stevie’s solo stuff and have done so for years,” including Nicks’s Jones Beach show last year in the rain.

Crew chief Dave Moncrieffe commented, “Working with Dave Kob is always a pleasure, not only for his ‘Old School’ view on system alignment and equalization, but also for his ability to mix his artists true to their sound. Plus Dave is a blast to be around and a very accomplished fisherman.”

In the 32 years that Kob has worked with Fleetwood Mac, have both the FOH engineer and the band kept up with technological advancements in live sound? Kobs laughed again, noting that while he had a digital Avid Venue Profile sidecar, his focus was the Yamaha PM5000 desk. “I’m using an analog board; I’m an endangered species out here, but I much prefer analog. Digital takes the fun out of mixing; it’s more like operating a lighting desk. It’s a disconnect that prefer not to do if I can help it, but I can mix shows on digital boards.”

The vocalists were not using wireless mics, which Kob noted was “a rarity these days.” Nicks and the backup vocalists used Beyerdynamic TGX-80 handhelds, while Buckingham’s voice was captured via an Audio-Technica AE6100. “It came from his solo tours, and I didn’t change it; changing things with Stevie takes a while, too. It took me a year and a half to get her to try the TGX-80 and like it.”

The 16-speaker full PA system, based around Clair i-5 line array boxes and supplemented by side hangs, didn’t require any ground subs. “The one thing I really like about i-5 is the low-end cabinet that hangs right with the array,” said Kob, who added that he likes to tune the PA to Roxy Music’s Avalon. “Those Bob Clearmountain [mixed] tracks are absolute classics.”

Preparing for the tour involved a month of band rehearsals, including two weeks of full production rehearsals in LA at a Sony soundstage in Culver City. Generally, the tour had been “going quite smoothly. It’s a much better vibe than it was four years ago for lots of reasons,” said the engineer. “They’re selling more tickets, they’re playing better, they’re getting along better. It comes down to everybody else.”

Moncrieffe points out that after the final U.S. date on July 6 in Sacramento, the tour takes off some time before hitting Europe and then Australia; the first European date is Sept. 20 in Dublin. It’s all a long way from the rambling, 7-minutes-plus tale Nicks told the audience that evening (and indeed, every night of the tour) about how she and Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac. At Jones Beach, Nicks ended by asking the guitarist if she got the story right, and he pointed out she’d omitted a key element to the story: Fleetwood called Buckingham to join them, and it was Buckingham who said the two of them were a package deal.

Nicks offered a belated thank you to her former boyfriend for insisting that they “take your hippie girlfriend too,” but not wanting John McVie to be the forgotten man, added the bass player suggested back in ’75 gruffly that they “keep the girl.” And the rest is history, as they say.

Clair

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Fleetwood Mac

Clair (atitz, pa)

FOH Engineer: Dave Kob

Monitor Engineer: Ed Dracoules, Dave Coyle

Crew Chief: Dave Moncrieffe

Systems Engineer: Donavan Friedman

Techs: Ricky Avilia, Meg Tempio, Hope Stuemke

FOH Console: Yamaha PM5000; Avid Venue Profile

Monitor Console: DiGiCo SD10; Avid Venue Profile

House Speakers: Clair i-5, i-5b, BT-218 subs, iMicro front fill, i-DL

Monitor Speakers: Clair 12AM, ML-18, R-4III sidefill

Personal Monitors: Shure PSM 1000

House Amplifiers: Crown MA3600VZ

Monitor Amplifiers: Crown MA3600VZ

FOH Equipment/Plug-Ins: Summit TLA-100A; Yamaha SPX2000; Lexicon 480L; Bricasti M7; Eventide Eclipse; Aphex 612; Tube Tech CL-2A

Monitor Equipment/PlugIns: Crane Song Phoenix; TC Electronic 6000; Yamaha SPX990, SPX1000; Summit TLA-100A

Microphones: AKG 414, 451; Audix D4, SCX25A; Audio-Technica AE6100; Shure SM58, SM57, Beta 91A, Beta 98AMP, KSM313/NE, UR Series; Beyerdynamic TG-X 80, TG D52d; Countryman DI

Caption: On the recent Fleetwood Mac tour, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham sang into Beyerdynamic TGX-80 and Audio-Technica AE6100 vocal mics, respectively.

Caption: Dave Kob, FOH engineer on the recent Fleetwood Mac tour, first toured with the band as its system engineer on the Rumours tour in 1978.

Caption: Caption 3: On the Fleetwood Mac audio crew were (l-r): Ricky Avila (PA tech), Hope Stuemke (PA tech), Donovan Friedman (systems engineer), Meg Tempio (monitor tech), Dave Coyle (monitor engineer) and Dave Moncrieffe (crew chief).

Larry Jaffee / Pro Sound News / August 2013 (p44)

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