Following successful spoken word tours in 2019 and 2021 to promote his autobiography, in 2023 Status Quo’s Francis Rossi set out to do something a little different. Bringing anecdotes and acoustic versions of well-known songs to intimate venues throughout the UK, Francis Rossi Tunes & Chat has been the perfect task for the Yamaha DM3 digital mixing console.
Featuring Rossi with studio collaborator/guitar tech Andy Brook and a pair of electro-acoustic guitars, the two-part, 101-date tour visited 400-600 capacity theatres in many of the UK’s provincial towns and cities.
Long-term Status Quo Front of House engineer Andy May was asked to mix the shows, but his Yamaha PM5D - a veteran of many Quo tours - was obviously over-specced for this one. Instead he chose a Yamaha DM3, which packs a lot of technical punch into a tiny footprint, perfect for mixing on house PA systems in smaller venues and travelling in the luggage hold of a tour bus.
“With the book tours, Francis found that he liked playing theatres, where audiences are smaller and closer,” says Andy. “Quo had previously also done the Acquostic tours, but they featured a bigger production with strings and other instruments. There seemed to be a demand for a show which combines conversation with stripped-back, acoustic versions of the songs.”
Having seen the DM3 at an event he was doing with Yamaha, Andy persuaded the company’s Tom Rundle and Tom Blood to let him trial one. “I immediately liked the way it looked and navigated,” he says. “It’s very easy to use - with multi-layer consoles you can get bogged down, but I was up and running within 20 minutes.”
The trial was so successful that Andy purchased his own DM3, which was used on the tour. “I figured that by the time we'd rented one for six months, I might as well own one,” he smiles.
Used with a Yamaha Tio1608-D2 I/O rack, the show featured 12 input channels - Rossi and Rook’s vocal channels each with a choice of headset and handheld mic, plus spares. For the guitars, inputs comprised a DI from the piezo pickups (via effects pedals) and miked up combo amplifiers. On top of this was playback for the start and end of each half of the show. Andy also created monitor mixes on a pair of small wedges.
“The monitors were actually quite loud, because that’s what Francis is used to. It can interfere with the house mix a tiny bit in certain moments, but if they’re happy, they play better and it’s a better show. So I worked round it,” he says.
Keeping everyone happy was the Yamaha DM3, which dealt very well with a wide variety of venues and house systems.
“As a compact live console, it's amazing,” says Andy. “The sound quality is great, all the effects sound beautiful, it’s flexible, completely reliable and the operation is really transparent. The display is great - when you're looking at the home screen you can see everything in the channel, where all the auxes go and so on. You can quickly and easily expand the EQ view and copy/paste is really straightforward. I’m also doing a multitrack recording of all the shows. It's a brilliant little thing.”