P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma world tour is one of epic proportions. It kicked off in January 2018, but before she even hit the road, she embarked on six months of promo work, including performances at The Grammys, the MTV VMAs, the Billboard Awards, and the Country Music Awards. Skip to present day, and P!nk and her team are doing their thing very well indeed across a string of major arenas. In June, she descends on London to play two shows at Wembley Stadium. Not a bad 18 months, then. We go backstage with her monitor engineer, Jon Lewis, to see what makes everything tick, and to find out what kit he’s using on this tour.
Jon Lewis is a highly revered audio engineer who has graced Headliner’s pages several times in the past. He’s working monitors for P!nk on this tour, and it’s a pretty complex setup.
“Monitors is split across two systems: one for the band, and one for P!nk,” opens Lewis. “This is because of the nature of the show; due to the acrobatic elements, the environment in which she performs is constantly changing - sometimes on the main stage deck, often above it. A lot of the show is in front of the main PA, which adds its own complications to her mix!”
His main monitor system is centred around a DiGiCo SD7, and Lewis uses a combination of the console’s onboard FX, and some external processing.
“My main vocal reverbs are from a Bricasti M7, and I use a Yamaha SPX 2000 during some songs for big vocal effects, distortion, and so on. I also use a Drawmer 1973 multi-band compressor to help control my overall mix,” Lewis explains.
Lewis shares the same stage racks as front of house, and the whole system is on the same optical loop, which allows ror maximum flexibly in terms of networking and workflow. Because P!nk’s voice is right up there with the best, I ask Lewis what’s on her vocal chain, and whether the artist gets involved in this kind of decision making.
“Her vocal is definitely one of the best I’ve mixed,” Lewis admits. “This, coupled with the fact she is often singing upside down, spinning through the air, or while suspended on bungies, is even more amazing - and she doesn’t miss a beat! It is also important to note that there is no track vocal to cover these performance segments; she sings totally live all the time.
“In terms of the [vocal] chain, we try different things during rehearsals, but the choices are mine. The Drawmer compressor is something I have used for a while on other gigs, including Cher, and AC/DC - it helps so much, especially when you have a singer who only uses one IEM.”
P!nk’s in-ear system has been custom-made by Sennheiser, purely due to the nature of the show:
“She uses a custom ear which integrates a headset mic into the earpiece, allowing no movement of the microphone when the artist is upside down,” Lewis reveals. “A traditional headset has too much movement, and would be unusable. It’s a pretty amazing bit of kit.”