There’s nothing reckless about a willingness to explore, as the current Bryan Adams tour is discovering. “If there’s one enduring thing with the way Jody Perpick deals with his responsibility for Bryan’s front of house mix, it’s his willingness to keep exploring new technologies” says Rob Nevalainen, who has many good reasons to celebrate Perpick’s sense of adventure.
“A little over a year ago my company Gearforce needed to invest in a good medium size PA system. What were the choices? There weren’t too many large US audio companies close to the Canadian border, so the field was open. We first looked at the d&b audiotechnik V-Series not long after it came out. We liked it immediately for its natural sound and its great power to weight ratio.” This doesn’t mean that he made a purchase straight away. But to understand why he eventually did, it’s important to examine the history of Gearforce.
Nevalainen has been Adams’ monitor man for over a decade, while Perpick has mixed front of house for thirty two years: quite a partnership. “We’re just entering our seventeenth year working together,” he said. “I started Gearforce in 2000. I had been working with other acts besides Bryan Adams and had noticed that across Canada there was a lack of high end large frame consoles, top grade IEM systems, and associated processing; so there was an opportunity. It wasn’t that these things were unavailable, but you’d need to subhire from several different vendors to assemble a good package; so that’s exactly the niche I established Gearforce to fill. At that time I wasn’t looking at PA systems at all; what Gearforce did was fill that control and monitor hole.”
Based in Coquitlam, Vancouver, Nevalainen ran a tight ship and his company prospered. “Many of our clients provide service to the corporate market. That sector grew rapidly, and we grew with them. Eventually they began to look to us for more equipment, initially small point source self-powered loudspeakers, but we soon found we needed something bigger. That’s when we first looked at d&b.”
Trevor Nash from d&b audiotechnik Canada presented the V-Series system. “Trevor was very patient with us, and working with V-Series we soon found you didn’t have to do a lot for what came out of it to sound good,” was Nevalainen’s reaction. “Plus you could fly the V-SUBs; and the network and processing attributes of the D80 amplifier ticked a lot of boxes for us too. So there were many elements that made the V-Series a sensible package for us, but at that time we weren’t ready for that size of loudspeaker system. Then a competitor went under just as one of our main clients in the Vancouver area wanted a midsize line array system.”
Gearforce took delivery in May 2014. “We used it almost immediately on a Bryan Adams solo tour. The V system brought many benefits, in particular better coverage with the use of V8 and V12 combinations, and the weight issue was also a key factor: we could fly it virtually anywhere.”
Come 2015 and the Gearforce V-Series system is out with a full size arena production for Adams, travelling across Canada before moving on to Europe in the early Spring. “Our first full band tour, we have d&b J-Series for left/right mains which I’ve subhired from EDS, and our own V-Series for the side hangs, with Y-Series for the rears in the bigger venues where we play 270° or 360°. All driven by D80s: it sounds great.”
Nevalainen’s pleasure extends to his monitor rig. “Although all the band are on IEMs I have side fills composed rather unconventionally of J-INFRA with Y10 on top. The lower octave reach of the INFRAs is ideal for building the kick drum sound on the stage apron; it’s big, loud and rich, and all the band feel it. The Y-TOPs enable me to feed guitars to stage left, and vocals to both sides with remarkable clarity and power for such a small cabinet. The vocals in particular are very useful for the many guest artists we have turn up on Bryan’s shows; the tightness of the dispersion putting sound right where I want it.”
As the Canadian leg draws to a close Nevalainen is already contemplating more work for his latest investment. “Jody Perpick has been mixing front of house since day one of Bryan’s career and he is really enjoying the switch to d&b. In fact we’ve been getting more positive feedback from the audiences about the sound on this tour than we have in ages. Jody has never allowed himself to become complacent; we have embraced new consoles over the years, and were early adopters of digital signal transport. The positive response we’ve had to the new d&b V-Series is part of that continual effort towards improvement.”