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Opening Night for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and VENUE at Red Rocks

Only published comments... Jun 02 2010, 03:40 PM by Robert Scovill

Blog #3 Film Strip

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers opening night. Click here for more photos and comments


Hello VENUE and Tom Petty fans


Well, it finally happened last night …


No … I’m not talking about Larry King finally getting to interview Lady GaGa  …


We, meaning Tom, The Heartbreakers and a bunch of faithful old road dogs pulled into the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver Colorado for the opening night of the 2010 tour. Now this was no normal first day of a tour for a show this size. Normally in these situations, you would have a load in day, that would allow everyone – including the band – to get their feet wet with a little run through the night before so that you might avoid un-foreseen problems and challenges that might threaten the first show. But did I mention this is Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers? Yeah, that’s not how we roll in the world of The Heartbreakers. In our world you steam right in, straight out of band rehearsals, set it up all, check your lines and levels, just in time for the house lights to go out so that when the band hits the stage you pull the trigger on two hours plus of classic music and bring all your focus and experience to bare. There’s even a chance (read as remote chance) that you might have even been allowed to mix some of the songs once or twice before the first show. Okay wait, I got all delusional for a minute. I remember now, that’s not how The Heartbreakers roll my friends and that’s one of the reasons I love the gig so much. House lights out dang it, it’s time to get’cher mix on! It’s all pretty exciting and I assure you, as the mixer, you’ll wear out the edge of your seat by the end of a tour.


If that wasn’t enough for day one, this was our first actual show with the new LAcoustics K1 PA system. Add a brand new PA system to your list of variables to deal with and you’ll end up with a very good night’s sleep at the end of a very long day. Thank goodness for Virtual Soundcheck, although I certainly could have made good use of a little more time with the tracks while tuning the PA system etc. That said, Virtual Soundcheck really is a life saver in these situations. If first impressions of the new PA mean anything, K1 is a very impressive sound system. I can’t imagine any system being able to handle the extreme upward geometry of Red Rocks as easily and seemingly effortlessly as the K1 rigging system. I’m still getting my head around it operationally, but sonically speaking, if last night was any indication, this tour is going to be lots of fun to mix. Now admittedly, I certainly made my share of opening night boo-boos, but confidence is high that I’ll find the groove and it will all come together very quickly and end up another legendary tour for Tom and troupe.


On the console end of things, the day turned out to be a bit of a “VENUE love-fest” in that for Tom we’re using 96 input D-Show systems for both FOH and monitor positions along with 48 input Profile systems for Joe Cocker FOH and Monitors. Petty monitor engineer Greg Looper and I both have 128 track Pro Tools HD systems as well for deploying Virtual Soundcheck independently for the house and the stage. All consoles and PA technology for both acts are provided by Sound Image out of Southern California. As it happens, the Sound Image connection turned out to be a big advantage for us because Tom is at Red Rocks June 1st and June 3rd, and as luck would have it Crosby, Stills and Nash are booked in on June 2nd. CSN is a Sound Image account as well, so we offered to leave the LAcoustics K1 system installed for them which they very graciously agreed to. This saved us the VERY laborious load out and then load back in again here at Red Rocks. Pulling off a show here is logistically speaking, a very slow process because all gear gets off loaded from the tour semis at the base of the mountain and then reloaded onto flatbed trucks that are properly geared to transport it up the steep mountain slope to the staging area. It’s a long, slow process that is … et-hem … PERFECT for a first show load in! (he said with sarcasm dripping from his fingers on to the qwerty keyboard) Luckily all of us have been to the Rocks many times over the years and kudo’s go out to the local crew and and the production crews for handling it so well and making the first show a big success. It was a “getter done” day to be sure. Luckily for us the weather held out and it was very nice for the majority of the day. The clouds rolled in late in the day but the rain held off for the show thankfully. We’ll hope for a similar fate, and a little more Virtual Soundcheck time on show number two on Thursday.

I’ll have more techy and geeky stuff to report as the tour carries on, but for now, I’m just happy we are finally under way!


Thanks for tuning in!

Scovill out

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About Robert Scovill

I am a 30 year veteran of live sound and 6 time TEC Award winner for Sound Reinforcement Engineer. I serve as Senior Market Specialist for live sound for Avid and am currently mixing front of house sound for the 2010 Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers North American Tour.

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