- Francois "Frankie" Desjardin
For more than a quarter century, Celine Dion has captivated millions worldwide with music that reaches straight for the heart. On her recent arena-scale tour of French-speaking lands on both sides of the Atlantic, Dion relied on a Meyer Sound LEO Family reinforcement system to provide an intimate connection with audiences despite the vast scale of tour's four arenas. Once again the system was provided by Dion's long-time audio reinforcement supplier, Solotech of Montreal. At every one of the sold-out shows, her loyal fans were enthralled by the direct connection they felt with Dion and her music. Tour FOH engineer Denis Savage and system designer/engineer Francois "Frankie" Desjardin made certain the LEO Family system made every single person feel like Dion was talking directly to him or her.
"When you looked at the IMAG screens and listened to the system, everything seemed close and intimate, even when you were 200 feet from the stage," remarks Desjardin, who has prepped the audio system for every one of Celine Dion's shows since 1992. "The 'proximity effect' you get from the LEO system is remarkable. It removes the gap between performer and audience."
The drawing power of Celine Dion is so formidable that her summer outing was really more of a "tour in residence" than a typical multi-city tour, with all 28 shows booked into only five venues -- including a run of nine sellout shows in Paris at the Accor Arena and ten at Montreal's Bell Centre.
Solotech's LEO Family rig was used for all indoor arena shows on both sides of the Atlantic. "The system is very flexible and easy to configure," continues Desjardin, "and it worked great for Celine. The dynamic characteristics of LEO are really outstanding. It goes from really quiet music through moderate pop right up to rock. The intelligibility is also very high, which helps us to keep everything absolutely transparent."
For the Paris run, the system was configured with a total of 52 LEO-M and 12 LYON loudspeakers in the four main front arrays, with dual arrays of 16 LYON-W each covering the far side seating and eight LEO loudspeakers for rear delays. Sub-bass was supplied by end-fired arrays of six each 900-LFC low frequency control units flown behind the left and right arrays, augmented by 24 1100-LFC elements floor-stacked as three cardioid arrays.
The systems for the ten Montreal shows, as well as five performances at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, deployed most of the same loudspeakers but in slightly different configurations as suited the acoustics and layout of the venues.
Other key members of the Solotech team on the tour were audio crew chief Louis Philippe Maziade, head PA teach Jonathan Trudeau, and PA techs Francis Lussier and Franck Martin.
Denis Savage mixes the shows behind an SSL L500 digital mixing console, and Dion's vocal microphone choice is her trusted and familiar hard-wired Shure SM-58.
After a short break to recoup, Celine Dion resumes to her semi-permanent Las Vegas residential performances in the Colosseum at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The resplendent 4,298-seat venue, where Dion will celebrate her 1000th performance in October, has been equipped with an all-Meyer Sound system (designed by Desjardin and Savage) since it first opened in 2003.