Guy Sebastian: All The Right Regions

Guy glad hands the bush, keeping Mum, Nan and the kids all happy.


14 May 2016

It doesn’t take long to be won over by the considerable charms of Guy Sebastian. I’m not sure who was more sceptical, me (who still recalls the reality TV shock of Idol) or my 12 year-old daughter (who is instantly suspicious of any of her father’s music ‘recommendations’). But a few minutes into the gig and both of us were eating out of the palm of Guy’s hand.

I’m not saying anything that tens of thousands of fans who flocked to last year’s arena shows don’t already know – Guy Sebastian is the consummate showman.

He’s also a nice guy. Not content with playing the big arenas in the big cities, this year he’s hit the road playing a regional theatre tour, much to the joy of his multi-generational fanbase.

Guy’s FOH engineer is Anatole Day, he’s been with Guy since the Memphis tour in 2008; when he came on board manning monitors. Initially, he too was a little lukewarm: “Until I found out I was working with Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and the rest of the original Stax musicians, and seeing how natural Guy was with them — he belonged in that company.”


A big tour comes with big baggage — six semi trailers in the case of last year’s arena tour — while a regional tour needed to be more nimble. Amazingly, Anatole and the crew managed to shoehorn the whole production into a 12-tonner. A couple of the dates required some rental PA to supplement what was in the truck but mostly the combination of 8 x L-Acoustics ARCS and 8 x SB218s powered by LA8 amps did the trick.

“The ARCS are flexible,” explains Anatole. “Ground stacking a PA inevitably means it’s a lot louder at the front than the back, but I’ll occasionally stack the subs three high to lift the ARCS up from the audience a little more, then flip the boxes upside down, that way I get 40° downward coverage for the front rows, and with 20° dispersion upwards I can still hit the back row.”


The microphone package is all Sennheiser. Unsurprisingly, given Anatole struck a deal with Sennheiser a few years back to guarantee he was delivering the kind of sound Guy was asking for: “Occasionally I’d be caught short on corporate gigs. I’d send in the technical rider and everyone was okay, but then I’d arrive and find some of the gear wasn’t up to scratch. I knew I had to at least guarantee Guy’s sound for those gigs. I put together a 2U road case with two Sennheiser 2050 wireless mic channels (SKM2000 handhelds and Neumann KK205 capsules) and two stereo sets of G3 in-ear monitors. That way, whatever the circumstances I had Guy’s sound covered.”

Most of the wireless is the new 9000 Series. Eight channels covers Guy, BVs and guitar packs. Four additional channels of 2000 Series wireless takes care of backups. “The wireless is rock solid,” observes Anatole. “Every gig, Justin our monitor engineer, starts scanning as soon as he can. He’ll do that throughout soundcheck right up until the show kicks off. You never know what the hundreds of mobile phones in the audience might do to your clean spectrum. But we also know the 9000 series will find the best chunk of spectrum and has never missed a beat.”


Everything you see here jams into a 12-tonne truck (well, okay, maybe not everything… the musos might object). Space saving measures include the exclusive use of in-ears, using projectors instead of LED walls, and maybe leaving half a dozen guitars at home.


Anatole likes his tagteam mic combos. Here he has a Sennheiser e903 and an e906 on the Swart Space Tone combo. Anatole will blend the tone to taste.


The drums are kitted out with 900 Series Sennheiser mics — 12 channels in all. There are a couple of exceptions: an e602 sits out of the kick drum shell complementing the e901 inside the drum, and a pair of MK4 large diaphragm condensers take care of ‘underhead’ duties.


Any synth head would be happy with this particular quartet of keys: Nord Stage, Korg Kronos, Access Virus Ti Polar, and a Dave Smith Prophet 12.


Anatole Day: “I’m not one of those guys who demands a Digico or an Avid or Midas. In fact, when I’m working on a console I quickly become its biggest fan as I appreciate the things it does well — I had that experience recently with a Soundcraft Vi3000. I get the fact that sometimes you need a certain mixer for a certain sound, or you might have all your secret sauces on an iLok that’s got to plug into a Profile, but often the demanding engineers are just a bit insecure about working on something they don’t know so well. I decided early in my career that I wouldn’t be fussy. Sure, you need the humility to ask the production supplier to give you a quick guided tour if you’re a little rusty on the mixer, then you just get on with it.”


The show has playback coming out of Logic running on a Mac Mini. The band’s guitarist has some basic Play, Stop and Next control over the playback via a small display on stage. The Mac Mini is connected to a MOTU Ultralite Mk3 interface spitting out three stereo pairs of tracks (precussion, instruments and BVs), a mono click and a 1kHz tone for syncing with a Radial SW8 switcher. Here’s how it works:

For the sake of redundancy there’s a mirror Mac Mini sync’ed with the ‘A’ system. Once David the guitarist hits play, both instances of Logic spark up, through two MOTU Ultralites and then into the Radial ‘Doomsday’ device — the SW8 Auto Switcher. The SW8 will pass System A audio for as long as it registers the 1k tone. If the tone stops it seamlessly switches to the System B audio. 

“We test it every day,” notes Anatole, “and it truly is seamless. You simply can’t hear it making the switch.”


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