George Michael is one of the most outstanding artists of our generation and, as a solo star for over 20 years, has sold in excess of 85 million albums worldwide. George is also the Most Played Artist on British Radio. With that kind of pedigree you know that his sell-out celebration of 25 years in the music industry ‘25 Live’ tour is going to be spectacular in every way. This highly anticipated tour is the singer’s first in 15 years and having established himself as one of the UK’s most respected singer/songwriters, it comes as no surprise that tickets sold out within hours of the tour dates being announced.
And accompanying the long-awaited tour is a profusion of world-class Sennheiser and Neumann systems worthy of a Live 8 re-enactment. The microphone choice for George is the Sennheiser SKM 5200 fitted with the Neumann KK 104 capsule, and this same mic configuration has been selected for a further 6 backing vocals. On front-of-house is the hugely experienced Gary Bradshaw, and two monitor engineers are in control of the stage mix - John Roden for the band, and Andy ‘Baggy’ Robinson balancing George Michael’s personal mix.
Baggy comments, "It’s important that an artist of George’s stature feels completely comfortable with their mic. Combining the Neumann capsule with the Sennheiser wireless system has thrust the legendary Neumann sound to the top of the wireless domain, and opened up new dimensions in sound for sophisticated live-performance engineering. For me the Neumann KK 104 has a warm, smooth and clean response that requires virtually no EQ. Despite a loud backline, I can always place George’s vocal exactly where I want it in the mix."
Neumann U 87s for overheads and TLM 170Rs on Saxophone are part of a strong Neumann wired set-up which also includes KM 184s on much of the percussion. Evolution wired microphones include the e901 on kick drum and the e904 clip-on mic on toms.
Full range ew 572 G2 wireless guitar systems are used on two of the touring guitar players, and additional radio packs allow the bongos to move downstage for parts of the show.
The ‘25 Live’ tour is also deploying 18 channels of evolution EW 300 G2 in-ear wireless with multiple receiver packs. Baggy comments, "The Sennheiser IEMs are currently the most reliable, stable and clean sounding systems in the world. The tone and clarity allows me to provide George Michael with exactly the mix he wants to hear."
Unusually, the set design rules that both monitor engineers are working backstage, and to overcome the inherent challenges of the large scale video wall, Sennheiser’s unique ‘Vulcan’ IEM launch system is utilised. Vulcan is the brainchild of Dave Hawker, Sennheiser’s Director of Engineering, and is a unique dual amplifier configuration to enable large multi-channel IEM systems to operate faultlessly in RF hostile live-touring environments.
Hawker reveals, "Vulcan was borne out of Live 8, and it enables any IEM system to outperform its original specification. The set design for the ‘25 Live’ tour means that the band is split either side of the video wall and the lack of visual communications results in a high reliability being placed on the in-ears. Vulcan eliminates all of the problems associated with antennae placement and long cable runs."
In 2011, George Michael announced his European orchestral tour 'Symphonica' and later performed at the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
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