Live Engineer Graham Peacock uses Liquid Channel on every show: “it’s simple, functional… and gives me a great vocal sound”
Roisin Murphy may have leapt to prominence with ubiquitous chart-topping duo Moloko, but since going solo she’s reinvented herself as a world class live performer. Her shows have since become the stuff of legend, earning comparisons with live performance luminaries such as Kylie and Bjork, and garnering a prestigious Best International Live Act at Belgium’s 2004 TMF Awards. It’s no accident that Roisin is booked for almost every festival going throughout Europe and beyond!
A Roisin Murphy performance will guarantee many things – extravagant costumes, super-charged set lists, classic tracks and a delivery that’s been honed to perfection throughout years of globetrotting. And while these ingredients alone make for an unparalleled visual spectacle, ultimately it’s the sound that will make or break a performance. Which is why it pays to have perfectionists helming front of house.
Graham Peacock started out as a gigging musician, and even at the tender age of 14 willingly took on the mantle of live engineer for his band. This fascination with perfecting live sound eventually made Graham an in demand live engineer for the likes of Eternal, D-Influence, Dead Can Dance and Moloko. As well as front of house duties, he now also manages Roisin Murphy.
Prolific mix engineer Gerald Albo also plays a big part in Roisin’s live shows. It’s little wonder that Graham’s handing over the reins to Gerard, who has mixed for the likes of Dionne Warwick, Amy Winehouse and Zero 7, to pluck but three heavyweight acts from his burgeoning CV.
When it comes to putting the live shows together, Graham is insistent that wherever possible no compromises be made. His philosophy largely pivots around using quality components for the live rig: “if it’s the best, then I have to have it.”
It’s this attitude to performance that ensures Roisin Murphy is in constant demand, both for the festival circuit and major indoor shows. And for Graham, being responsible for the sound ensures he’ll use nothing but the best tools for making the most of Roisin’s unique vocal delivery…
“I use just one Liquid Channel [with another as a back up] on Roisin’s voice. The Liquid preamp is so clean that it brings out the pure tones of her already distinctive voice – and in every situation this brings her above the band, which really helps when you’re using line array. And when I need to mix live recordings I’ll used it on her voice again.”
“The reason I bought the Focusrite gear in the first place was that I was looking for something consistent to replicate the fantastic vocal sound on the record. We bought a couple of [Focusrite ISA 430] Producer Packs for the studio a few years back, and both the sound and the quality were excellent. To add to this I had met with a few live engineers who praised the unit’s versatility and ease of use in the live arena, so that was it – it seemed like the obvious choice!”
“So now with Roisin I have a great vocal sound wherever the tour takes us – no matter which board I’m presented with. The EQ is so much better than most mixers, so I have all the tools available in a familiar environment and right at hand. If possible I bypass the mixer preamp at every opportunity.”
Ultimately the Liquid Channel matches my personal ethos of ‘great tools for a great show’. It’s simple and functional and adds to my abilities to get a great vocal sound without having to have the voice so much louder than the rest of the band.” “If you want great live sound, just keep it simple and real. There are too many toys and systems that can make an average engineer sound slightly above average and an exceptional engineer sound slightly above average. The less clutter there is in the signal chain, the purer the sound. I’m afraid that a whole generation of engineers are growing up with digital desks, line array and processing units that remove them from the real experience of pushing a fader or twisting a knob and getting direct feedback and an honest sound. I want the audience to experience exceptional sound at live shows, to be able to hear the grace notes on a snare, the slide of the bass player’s finger on a string and the vocalists’ harmonics within the music…”