As a show with comedy at its heart, some of the production elements made life a little more complicated for Gabriele than a ‘straight’ rock’n’roll tour. But the RIVAGE PM7 system played its part in making things as smooth as possible.
"The live orchestra was mainly for the 'wow factor," as we had a recorded orchestra on playback that we mixed with the live one. We did feature the live orchestra more on quieter numbers, as they were really tight, they had great intonation and the bleed was not too noticeable on those songs," says Gabriele.
“Once up and running they were super-easy to work with but, in the tight timeframe of rehearsals, it was a little stressful to make it all happen, both in terms of miking them up and giving them all a hardwired in-ear monitor mix for click etc.”
With Derek coming from a band whose lead guitarist famously demanded ‘one more’ from his amplifiers, it’s no surprise that just one - or even one live and one recorded - orchestra was not enough. There was also a ‘live satellite linkup’ with the Hungarian Studio Orchestra to contend with.
“Good old SMPTE, still going strong!” smiles Gabriele. “It was all part of the comedy of the show and was, of course, pre-recorded and synced with timecode. We might be taking this show to festivals, where we won't have the luxury of having a live orchestra, so I suspect the whole show might have a ‘live via satellite’ orchestra there.”
This was also the method used to feature some of the special guests who Derek / Harry wanted to appear, but could not be at the show itself.
“With names like Donald Fagen, Steve Vai, Snarky Puppy, Rick Wakeman and Jane Lynch involved in recording the album, Harry didn’t want to miss the opportunity of having them as part of the show, one way or another. ‘Live via satellite’ was a neat solution to involve as many people as possible,” says Gabriele.
“It was a challenge to keep track of the special guests who did appear live, like Steve Lukather from Toto, Dweezil Zappa and Waddy Wachtel, who all had very limited rehearsal time. They were used to a lot of personal attention, so I had to make sure I could make them feel comfortable while still focusing on Derek, the band and the orchestra. I only discovered that some didn’t want to use in-ears when they arrived on stage for rehearsals, but I had budgeted for it and had a couple of spare wedges which we could throw in for them.
“Luckily I had two assistants - Emily Arnold and Sean Herman from the show’s audio rental company Sound Image - who worked very hard with me to make it all happen as quickly as possible.”
Naturally the show’s climax was the Spinal Tap classic Big Bottom, featuring an unprecedented number of bass guitars on stage at the same time.
“We had never rehearsed it with all the guests, which made for an interesting experience on the day,” says Gabriele. “I was able to copy and reuse the guest mixes from the other parts of the show, so they all had a workable mix. The new Isolate feature on the RIVAGE PM7, paired with Recall Safe, made it easy to pick and mix certain parts of various snapshots to copy into the final scene on the fly.”