The six-week Dear G I R L tour ran from September to October and took in major venues in Western and Central Europe
Europe - Superstar producer/singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams made extensive use of Shure wireless microphone and in-ear monitoring systems on his first-ever headlining concert tour this Autumn. The six-week Dear G I R L tour ran from September to October and took in major venues in Western and Central Europe, including the UK's O2 Arena.

Shure's Axient wireless microphones and PSM1000 in-ear monitoring systems, as used on the European dates, were sold by Shure Distribution UK, and supplied by Wigwam Acoustics in Heywood, Greater Manchester.

Pharrell's regular monitor engineer Jeremy Peters informally approached US-based RF engineer and stage and microphone tech Matthew Bock, of Nashville audio technology vendor Sound Image, early in 2014 for advice about which wireless systems to use on the live dates that were then being planned in support of Pharrell's successful G I R L album. Bock, who has worked with acts such as Taylor Swift, Brooks & Dunn, and Jimmy Buffett, had no hesitation in recommending Shure's Axient, on which he had undergone Shure training and certification when the product was released.

Pharrell had played the two-week-long Coachella festival in the States in April and had endured continual RF interference during the first week, which resulted in the crew resorting to using wired microphones for much of the band. After that, there was a determined effort among the tour crew to improve the wireless systems, as Jeremy Peters explains.

"When I started talking to the FOH guy, it became obvious that Pharrell wanted the best of the best. From the beginning, there was no resistance to simply getting the very best gear. I knew what ears I wanted to use... I love the PSM1000s: they sound terrific, the RF on them is great, and they have a lot of gain... so that was a no-brainer. And for the mics, I wanted to go Axient from the beginning.

"I've worked for and with Sound Image many times before, everything from FOH to System Tech, and have worked with Matt on some really big gigs where he was handling the RF side. So I asked him about Axient, because he was the only person I knew that had really toured with it and built a rig from scratch, who knew what we would need. He basically put the whole rig together for me then, before he even came on board properly. Then we took on Sound Image officially, and I was asked, 'should we get Matt?' and I said, 'yes, you bet!'"

Bock specified six channels of Axient, two for Pharrell's vocals (one main and one backup, both running in Frequency Diversity mode), two for main support vocalists, and two guest vocal channels. 10 channels of PSM1000 in-ear monitoring were also used for the members of Pharrell's band, with Shure's UHF-R wireless microphone systems supplying four more channels for supporting instruments.

Following successful one-off dates in the US, Sound Image was asked to provide the systems for Pharrell's main European tour in the Autumn. In order to ensure that the wireless systems were correctly specified for use in Europe, Sound Image approached Wigwam Acoustics' parent company SSE, with whom they had previously worked in the UK, to supply an exact copy of the wireless equipment used on the US dates. Wigwam supplied the equipment; Shure Distribution UK fulfilled the order and carried out tech support for the tour as it moved around Europe.

(Jim Evans)

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