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OMD: sonic weaponry at Hamburg Docks
OMD toured the UK and Europe earlier this year in their original line-up, but with a brand new PA system in the armoury. PSNEurope joined FOH engineer Chicky as he locked and loaded the Coda Audio ViRAY.
Reproduced by kind permission of PSNEurope. Article 'Friendly fire' originally appeared in PSNEurope July 2013 edition
“I have a special weapon for rooms like the Roundhouse. It’s called ‘volume’.”
PSNEurope is sitting backstage with Charles ‘Chicky’ Reeves before a performance by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – AKA OMD – at the Hamburg Docks in May.
“I don’t want anybody thinking, ‘Shall I get a beer?’ or, ‘Hey, that girl’s cute’,” continues Chicky. “I don’t want them to be thinking about anything else apart from the sound. I want it to be just loud enough: not that it hurts, but that they can’t think about anything else; that they don’t miss anything, and that I completely hold their attention for 45 minutes.”
It was the ‘volume’ approach to FOH mixing for Grace Jones at London’s Roundhouse in 2009 that led Chicky to being hired “almost on the spot” by OMD’s Paul Humphreys, he recalls.
Over three years later, Chicky’s still working with the ‘80s synth pop heroes as they hit the touring and festival circuit with English Electric, their 12th studio album and the second since the band reformed in its original early line-up of Andy McCluskey, Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes.
Originally from Altanta Georgia, Chicky is a resident Londoner who considers himself “mainly a studio guy who also does FOH”, though he admits the split is becoming more of a 50/50 thing. For the European leg of the English Electric tour (which started in the UK in April, then dropped briefly into Belgium and Holland before alighting in Germany), he has been working with Liverpool’s Adlib Audio. As a trusted keystone of OMD’s live sound, Chicky chose both the PA and the console for the tour.
“Originally we were going to take a d&b system out. Then Adlib talked to us about Coda ViRAY: ‘Smaller footprint, packs a real punch, you’ll really like it,’ they said.”