The album's original drummer Woody Woodmansey assembled a 12-piece band of musicians to tour the album
UK - Shure microphones including Beta series drum mics, KSM9 vocal mics and a UHF-R wireless system are being used extensively on the UK and international dates for Holy Holy's live presentation of David Bowie's album The Man Who Sold The World, featuring original drummer Woody Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti on bass.

After selling out several UK venues including the Shepherds Bush Empire and the O2 Academies in Glasgow and Sheffield in Autumn 2014, the live show is returning for more dates in June 2015, and will tour Europe, the USA, Japan, and Australia later in the year.

The Man Who Sold The World (released in 1971 in the USA, and 1972 in the UK) was never toured live, as David Bowie had already put together his Ziggy Stardust stage persona and album by the time of his next live tour. In 2014, with Bowie's blessing, the album's original drummer Woody Woodmansey assembled a 12-piece band of musicians to tour the album, including producer Tony Visconti on bass, Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 on vocals, and original guitarist Mick Ronson's sister, daughter and cousin on backing vocals (occasionally known as the Ron-ettes).

Live sound engineer Rob Coles was asked to mix the FOH sound for Holy Holy's initial Autumn 2014 live dates, and was responsible for putting together the touring rig. "It was a simple choice as far as I was concerned," he explains. "There's very little that competes with Shure for live use, not just on sound quality, but also on build quality."

Coles assembled a drum rig for Woody Woodmansey comprising a VP88 stereo mic overhead, supplemented with Shure Beta spot mics: a Beta 91A and 52 on the kick drum and clip-on Beta 98s for the toms.

"Typically for what is quite a prog-rock set of material, Woody uses five toms, and they feature heavily in the arrangements. The Beta 98 AMPs brought the toms to life, positioning them beautifully in the mix," he explains. "Next we needed a quality vocal mic for Glenn, who has a powerful baritone range, so we chose the KSM9 - to me there's nothing better. As Glenn wanted to work wirelessly, we used the UHF-R wireless system with KSM9 capsules. The backing vocalists used wired KSM9s."

When it came to the guitarists, Coles and the band were faced with the not-insignificant task of reproducing guitar legend Mick Ronson's sound live, and creating an equally powerful bass sound for Tony Visconti that would not be lost in the FOH mix.

"Mick Ronson used a very full guitar sound on the original album, with lots of harmony overdubs, similar to the twin-guitar sound later used to great acclaim by the likes of Thin Lizzy. For the live shows, the decision was to reproduce the sound with two guitarists. I'd used Shure Beta 27s with Gary Moore on his Marshall setup, so I knew what was possible. The Beta 27s have a lot more low end and warmth than the standard SM57s you might typically use on live guitars."

To ensure that Tony Visconti's bass held its own, Coles employed a Radial DI. "Tony played bass on the original album, but had to go out and buy the right one again - a Gibson short-scale bass - for the Holy Holy dates," he explains. "The Radial is sheer quality and, combined with a Beta 52, we made sure he featured with suitable presence."

Holy Holy's tour resumes in the UK in June and Rob Coles will be using the same Shure and Radial-based rig on all the dates. "The Shure stuff sounds great - why change it?" he concludes.

(Jim Evans)

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