At 69 years old, Rod Stewart is still selling out arenas worldwide. We recently had a chance to check out a live show of his at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City, and caught up with his FOH engineer Lars Brogaard, who has worked with Rod for 29 years.
Lars talked with us at length about his setup, which is almost entirely digital (via a top-of-the-line DiGiCo SD7 console) save for a few choice pieces of analog outboard gear, including a Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5045 Primary Source Enhancer for Rod’s vocals. One channel is on a standing mic, the other on a seated mic, with a second unit on the monitor path.
Lars knows the specifics of Rod’s voice arguably better than any other person in the world: "When we first tried out the 5045 on tour, the difference was immediate. It was the first time we were able to get softer vocal parts as loud as we wanted without a struggle. Beyond the extra 3-6dB of level, it really adds to the clarity of the voice, as the PA is no longer folding back into the microphone as much. This really helps the vocal sit in front of the mix."
At the beginning of a particular song, Lars informed us that there would be a point where the band drops out, and for a brief moment it’s just Rod singing by himself. Feedback had been completely unavoidable before they got the 5045. As the dreaded moment came, everyone held their breath – and there was no feedback. The show went on, the crowd cheered, and the whole sound crew stood up and cheered with them (albeit for their own reason).
"To describe the sound effect the 5045 can have on the vocal track, I would compare it to the experience of talking to someone in a cathedral versus speaking with them in a living room. The difference can be quite dramatic for the clarity of the voice."
Rod Stewart has an ongoing residency at Caesars Palace in vegas three times a year. "It is already a great room, where every seat sounds nice, but having the 5045 to help bring the vocals forward makes a very significant difference.
"I’m happy to talk about the 5045, because it is a tool that helps me be better at my job."