Our Hillsong Worship Europe tour is off to a fantastic start. As I write this we’re about halfway through a 15 hour bus drive from Sweden to Germany.
My name is Reid Wall and I have the privilege of being part of our production team — mixing monitors and helping out with whatever else needs to be done. For this tour we’ve been doing venues from 1,500 seats all the way up to 11,000 seats, so each day has unique challenges and variables to navigate. It’s definitely been exciting.
We’re carrying backline, lighting consoles, audio consoles, mic kit, line system, RF, and power distribution. Each day we setup our gear and plug into the PA system, lights, and screens that are provided. Our lighting director and FOH engineer definitely have their work cut out for them — a different set of lighting fixtures for each region and a new PA in every venue means they are basically starting over each day. Other than the floor monitors, I’ve got the same equipment every day, which certainly makes it easier for me to deliver a consistent result for our platform team.
Europe in winter is cold. Very cold. Most of our team is based in Australia, so winter in Europe is a bit extreme for us. In Gothenburg we had fresh snow falling as we loaded our gear out of the venue. In Oslo it was so cold (-20C) that our bus trailer (with all the gear inside) had frozen shut. We poured boiling water over the hinges, until one of the locals brought us a heat gun. After a few minutes we were able to get the doors open and start setting up.
Each day the bus arrives at the venue about 8am. We unload all the gear, and begin setting up in the venue. On a good day we’re ready for the band to soundcheck by 2pm. At the start of tour, we’re spending about an hour in soundcheck, but that gets faster as the tour goes on. After soundcheck we eat some dinner, and then pray together as a whole creative team. After the night we pack up all our gear in about an hour, hit the showers, jump on the bus, wake up in a different city and start again. It really is a lot of work, but we all really enjoy it.
Each night we give people the opportunity to accept Jesus — I’m consistently blown away as hundreds of people raise their hand in response. For me it’s a fresh reminder that one of the best ways to reach people is to simply invite them to church. God does incredible things in an atmosphere of worship and surrender.
One of my favourite thing about Hillsong Worship tours is that we’re not just traveling as a band and playing shows. Rather, our goal is to simply take what we do on Sundays at Hillsong Church, and share it with other cities — creating opportunities for people to encounter Jesus. The way this translates for us as a production team has been refreshing. Our team has a Production Manager, FOH Engineer, Monitor Engineer, Lighting Director, Video Director, and a Backline Tech. Everyone on our crew has a specific job, but everyone also jumps in and helps with whatever is needed. If one area is having a tough day, everyone else jumps in and helps them get the job done. We all load all the truck together. We all work hard, but everyone has such a great attitude, so it really has been a lot of fun. I’m reminded of Psalm 133, that talks about God commanding His blessing where there is unity.
We’re using a pair of MA2 Lite consoles and a NPU for lighting control (main/backup) with a catalyst media server which controls 6 pillars of LC panels and a LED wall. The touring lighting rig generally consists of 15x Martin Vipers, 30x Mac Aura XB and 15 x clay paky Sharpy units. Lighting and Media are both chasing time code from Ableton.
FOH is mixed on a Digico SD10, Monitors on a Digico SD5. We’re sharing a pair of SD Racks for I/O. Both consoles have Macro’s setup to enable / disable gain tracking- so we can both make gain changes without effecting the overall level for the other engineer. We’ve Y-Split the Radio Mics (8ch) to two different pre-amps on the SD Rack, so that FOH and MONS each has completely discreet pre-amps / gain control for the money channels.
Radio Mics are Shure UHFR-B58s for Vocals, and KSM9s for the MC/Preacher. PSM600 wired IEM for Drums and Bass. PSM1000 wireless IEM for everyone else.
B52 and e901 on Kick, 57s on Snare and guitars, e904s on Toms, C414 on OHs, Radial JDI for Keyboards, Synth Bass, and Drum pads. Radial J48s for Acoustic Guitars and Bass. Radial SGIs get guitar signal from pedalboard back to off stage guitar amps. A pair of ATBP4073s and pair of KSM32s for Ambience Mics. We’ve also got some triggers on the toms for gate key ins.
Our production team communicates using some two way radios, which we patch into the monitor board, and then route them to a tech IEM mix so we can hear with IEM during the night. At monitors I matrix this in with my Solo bus so I can hear the radio chatter along with whatever I’m cueing on the console.