Bic Runga Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Iconic Debut Album “Drive” with HARMAN Professional Solutions
AUCKLAND, New Zealand—Veteran FOH engineer Kevin Bennett recently mixed Bic Runga’s Drive 20th Anniversary Tour on a complete JBL by HARMAN VTX A12 sound system, provided by distributor JANDS NZ.
Released in August 1997, Bic Runga’s debut release “Drive” is regarded as one of the most iconic albums in New Zealand music history. In addition to winning “Album Of The Year” at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards, “Drive” sold more than 70,000 copies and catapulted Bic Runga to international success in Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and more. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album’s landmark release, Bic Runga recently embarked on a series of concerts in which she performed “Drive” in its entirety, along with a selection of greatest hits from her subsequent multi-platinum albums.
To ensure exceptional live sound for performances of an album that won an award for its audio engineering, JANDS NZ provided FOH engineer Kevin Bennett with a complete JBL by HARMAN VTX A12 sound reinforcement system for the Auckland stop of the tour at the Civic Performance Art Theatre. Featuring a revolutionary dual 12-inch line array speaker purpose-built for mid- to large-size touring applications and high-end fixed installations, the A12 was perfectly suited for a concert at the Civic Performance Art Theatre.
“When I was given the opportunity to mix with the VTX A12, it was a no-brainer,” said Bennett. “I’ve never received as many compliments from an audience as I did after this performance. Sonically, the A12 is incredibly smooth and provides excellent coverage, both on- and off-axis. The A12 sounds so great right out of the box, it didn’t require much tweaking to optimize the system’s performance in the theater.”
Bic Runga also took note of her fans’ reaction to the exceptional sound quality provided by the JBL VTX system.
“The audience’s response to this show was even greater than I expected,” said Bic Runga. “Kevin Bennett’s experienced mixing combined with the sound system to give the show an extra clarity and presence that translated to a special listening experience for the audience. A lot of fans commented that they were particularly moved by the excellent sound quality of the music.”
The array was comprised of four ground-stacked VTX A12 speakers per side to cover the floor area, six flown A12 speakers per side to cover the balcony, and four VTX G28 dual 18-inch subwoofers deployed on the ground to supply deep and punchy bottom end. VTX-M Series monitors provided clear and accurate monitoring for the musicians onstage, and Bennett relied on a Soundcraft Vi2000 digital console for mixing.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity to help Bic Runga bring her classic album “Drive” to life with a world-class JBL VTX sound system,” said Tim Robertson, Tour Sound Manager, JANDS NZ. “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of interest in the VTX A12 since the concert, and our goal is to have it requested on more technical riders in the New Zealand market.”
VTX A12 features a completely redesigned rigging system that allowed the College Hill Productions team to deploy the entire rig with unprecedented speed and efficiency, while the Soundcraft Vi2000 digital console enabled Bennett to craft a spectacular live mix that delivered all the sonic nuances of the expertly engineered album.
“The system was amazingly quick to deploy—when I arrived to set up the console, the PA was nearly flown and ready to sound check before I was,” said Bennett. “I’ve worked previously with Soundcraft Vi consoles, and their straightforward, analog-like workflow provides an intuitive and enjoyable mixing experience. The Vi2000 is now my go-to console, thanks to its superior sound quality and tour-grade reliability. And I love that it features the BSS DPR901ii Dynamic EQ.”
“It is a privilege to see JBL and Soundcraft products supporting a truly special performance by Bic Runga,” said Ramesh Jayaraman, VP & GM, HARMAN Professional Solutions, APAC. “For decades, we’ve worked with artists and touring personnel to better understand their challenges and provide best-in-class solutions. We thank our partners JANDS NZ for their expertise and loyalty, and we look forward to working together to facilitate more incredible live music experiences in New Zealand’s touring community.”