Multi-faceted dance pioneers Faithless have been celebrating their 20th anniversary on the festival circuit ahead of a new album release (Faithless 2.0). Front of House engineer Mark Kennedy has been working with the band for 19 years, and this year he is doubling up by using the same rig and crew for Faithless Vocalist Maxi Jazz’s new Band, Maxi Jazz and the E-Type Boys.
On the Faithless show, there are 56 inputs from the stage including feeds from a large percussion section, standard drum kit, bass guitar, four sets of keyboards, and three vocal mics. Kennedy calls it a ‘tricky’ mix. “People will walk on and walk off throughout the show,” he explains. “They’ll walk off with the radio mic and put it down and start chatting to people off stage, and that’s the least of your worries.
“Sister Bliss likes all of her keyboards to be velocity sensitive, so depending on what mood she’s in we can go from a whisper to a scream. You have to be so on the whole thing all of the time.”
According to Kennedy the SSL Live L500 is perfect for the job on several fronts. First and foremost is the sound: “Festivals are the best place possible to tell what your board sounds like because every other guy has every type of board possible. When you hear the difference between the SSL and the other consoles on a large touring system it’s quite incredible how much better it is.”
“In an analogue mixer, with a fader at five or eight dB down, the channel is quiet but doesn’t drop out of the mix. With most digital consoles that channel would be gone, but that doesn’t happen with the SSL, it stays there.”
“And the stereo separation is amazing,” he continues. “On one recent show we were pushed a long way over to one side of this big festival. You could still hear what was coming out of the left so clearly it was incredible. It really was amazing.”
Because the Faithless show is so unpredictable, Kennedy is hands-on from beginning to end: “I use snapshots to get me to the starting point of a song. After that it’s mixed freehand.”
“One thing I love about the SSL is that I can do two things at the same time. I can be on the right hand side EQing something on the Channel Control Tile while I’m pushing up VCAs with my left hand.”
“With the upper and lower banks and the three different tiles I can dial almost a whole show up onto the surface, and then I’m free to do whatever I want without being restricted or having to step through menus.”
The L500 has several control options – three Fader Tiles, a 19-inch multi-gesture touch screen, and the unique Channel Control Tile with its own high-resolution touch screen and rapid access controls. “The main touch screen is fantastic,” says Kennedy, “But for me the key is the right hand side of the desk – the smaller touch screen and the instant access of the Channel Control Tile. It’s so fast. I can jump from my inserts, to my compressor, to my gates, to my header amps… There, now – right now… I don’t have to go looking for them.”
The final words on the tour’s sound go to Rollo Armstrong, Faithless multi-instrumentalist, Producer, and SSL studio console owner: “It sounds so much better than it’s ever sounded before. We’re really happy.”