Keener readers of the SSE Audio Group website may recall an article Thunder Bows Out first published in 2009 and describing what at the time was billed as their final tour. Things didn’t quite pan out that way though. After a couple of years pursuing solo interests the band played a number of one off gigs before returning to full scale touring with Whitesnake and Journey in 2013. Further dates followed and in 2015 Thunder released their first album in six years entitled Wonder Days.
With the band now firmly re-established, in February 2017 Thunder released their eleventh studio album Rip It Up. Promotional tour dates followed, initially with five dates in Australia before returning to the UK for nine gigs up and down the country.
SSE Hire Project Manager Pete Russell has also been Thunder’s Front of House engineer for the past twenty three years.
Pete has the choice of just about any console from SSE's Hire stock so why did he chose a Soundcraft Vi7000? “It largely stems from the fact that I’ve come from an analogue background. I prefer to have all of my mix in front of me at the same time rather than in multiple layers. Five screens and forty plus faders allows me to achieve this. It has a really logical workflow as well, meaning you can make real time adjustments quickly and effectively.”
Pete continued, “Previously I’d been using the Vi6 with Thunder so the Vi7000 has been a logical progression. I like the sound of the Soundcraft consoles, the Vi7000 is faster and more responsive than the Vi6 and also benefits from the Soundcraft RealTime Rack. I’ve now got all the effects I need at my fingertips without the need for any outboard gear.”
Over on monitors was ‘Willie’ Detlev Klein, running L-Acoustics X15 HiQ monitors with L-Acoustics ARCS side fills from a Soundcraft Vi6. Pete Russell commented, “Willie was monitor tech for the Wonder Days tour back in 2015 so when the band needed a monitor engineer for this tour I suggested him. He’s been a great fit to the production, delivering exactly what the band have required throughout the tour.”
The Rip It Up tour took in mainly theatres so Pete Russell specified L-Acoustics KARA for the front of house PA, with SSE system tech Nick Lythgoe responsible for the configuration and alignment at each venue.
The tour's final UK date was at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. SSE installed an L-Acoustics K2 house system there early in 2015, so for Thunder the KARA system stayed in the truck. Nick Lythgoe commented, “This has been a particularly pleasant end to the tour for me. We’ve brought in the control and monitors package, connected the output from the desk via AES into the house control rack and we’re good to go.”
“I’ve used the house system here a few times now and it’s just a really well tuned system. We’ve turned it on and it’s required just the minimum of adjustment from ourselves. It’s not just the fact that it’s L-Acoustics K2, it’s been well set up to provide a real hi-fi sound to every seat (and standing in this instance) throughout the venue.”
The L-Acoustics K2 house system is available to all visiting productions at the Apollo. As part of the package SSE Audio supplies a system tech for every show. On duty for the Thunder gig was Atte Heinonen, one of three regular freelancers that SSE call on to cover the Apollo’s programme of events.
Atte Heinonen: “L-Acoustics K2 is such a rider friendly package. Even before they have heard the installation, visiting engineers have confidence that they will be able to achieve a decent sound. It’s rare for them to want to make many EQ changes, basically because it’s just not necessary. Even rarer does a visiting production to ask to put their own system in. Obviously there’s a cost involved to taking it out but I think it’s as much down to the house system being of such a quality that it’s just not necessary.”
Production Manager Marh Harris was delighted with how the tour had gone: "Thanks to Pete, Willie and Nick for making the UK tour a big success. As ever SSE delivered what we wanted: a quality sound at a competitive price."
As a writer for the SSE website I visit a fair number of concerts and tours. I first saw Thunder over twenty years ago so I was really looking forward to the Hammersmith gig. Suffice to say they didn’t disappoint, from the opening number, to the end of the third song of a twenty minute encore the performance seemed effortless. The band clearly enjoyed themselves and Pete Russell produced a mix that did total justice to Thunder’s music. For me this was “a good day at the office!”
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