Compact dLive CTi1500 system at the heart of the award-winning singer-songwriter’s transatlantic tour.
Not many artists can claim to have had a better start to the 2020s than Arlo Parks.
Having only played her first live show in May 2019, the 21-year-old Londoner has been the recipient of multiple industry awards and an abundance of critical acclaim over the last 18 months, even having her single Eugene, written whilst Parks was still at school, included on Michelle Obama’s Spotify playlist.
21-year-old Arlo Parks has been on a stratospheric rise over the last 18 months, receiving multiple awards and critical acclaim.
Fresh from winning the prestigious Mercury Prize for her 2021 debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams, and with the world of live music starting to open up again on both sides of the Atlantic, the Hammersmith native has embarked on a promotional tour of the UK and US in support of the critically lauded release.
“The live campaign has been a whirlwind experience, with the production fluctuating between small acoustic shows, headline clubs, filmed studio sessions, festivals, award shows, arenas and fly-shows” says Chris Parker, Project Manager at Patchwork London and FOH engineer for the tour. “Shows have gone from 150 to 10,000 cap rooms - from an acoustic guitar to full 14-piece band with brass, backing vocalists and a string section.”
For the American dates, Parker specified a dLive flypack that could be transported in just 3 cases.
Despite the number of variables involved with the tour, one constant has been the choice of the compact dLive CTi1500, a 12-fader control surface housed in a lightweight chassis with titanium side panels, partnered with a DM48 or CDM32 MixRack. “Working with an artist under the spotlight means it’s all been back-to-back, which doesn’t give us a lot of time to rebuild the audio package as we go, however this isn’t an issue with the CTi1500” explains Parker. “The dLive workflow for me is second to none - on a rollercoaster campaign like this I know I can rock up to any scale of show and re-organise my fader banks and softkeys in a way that makes sense for the show.
“In the UK we’ve racked up a DM48 MixRack into one of our Patchwork London custom splits racks to give us analogue split options for festivals and recording sessions, and over in the US we’ve opted for a system of 3 DX168 expanders connected to a CDM32 MixRack. The whole package fits into 3 cases; 2 cases under 23kg, 1 at 26kg. The beauty of the dLive system is that you get the full processing power in every package, so there’s no file conversion or session restructure.”
The flypack consists of the compact CTi1500 Surface, CDM32 MixRack and DX168 remote audio expanders.
The recent release of dLive V1.9, the largest firmware release to date for the platform, added an array of new features to the platform, and Parker has already integrated many of these new tools into his workflow, alongside some old favourites. “The main challenge with a soft voice like Arlo’s is filling the room with the vocal. Some PA systems are more forgiving than others, but the Dyn8 [Multiband Compressor & Dynamic EQ] is instrumental in controlling her soft and sibilant voice in a way that retains her true character and timbre in a way that feels intimate” says Parker. “With the release of V1.9, I can apply the new Source Expander for some gentle gating, and lock one of the 61-band RTAs onto her vocal group with the RTA visible in the South Area so any feedback squeaks are easily detected wherever I am.”
With Parks’ star in the ascendancy, there’s a lot to look forward to for all involved with the live production. “We are currently on a 5-week US tour and it really feels like just the beginning – the trajectory and ambition of the project is something really exciting and we’re all looking forward to what’s in the pipeline” Parker says. “The support from Allen & Heath has been great and I feel assured that someone will pick up the phone if I’m ever in a sticky situation, no matter where the tour takes us.”
FOH engineer Chris Parker relied on the compact and lightweight dLive CTi1500 Surface for dates on both sides of the Atlantic.
Perhaps the most important facet of working with an artist like Parks, whose lyrical themes resonate so deeply with her audience, is creating the emotional connection between the artist and crowd night after night, and this is something Parker takes pride in. “dLive gives me the tools to handle the sound and squeeze in heaps of personality” he smiles. “The audience know they’ve been to see and hear something with a lot of time, attention and love put in”.