Behind d: Scenes With Colin Walker, Delirious' Monitor Engineer (
Last modified: 18 Nov 2004

Author: Dave Wood
Date: 18 Nov 2004

If you've ever been to a Delirious? concert, you might not realise quite how much effort is involved in making the gig happen. From a fan's point of view, you arrive at a venue, the lights go out and five men with instruments appear on stage and give an hour and a half of top quality music. But there is more to putting on a d: concert than meets the eye. Every time Delirious? arrive in town ready for a show, a small army of workers put together a truck load of equipment and spend the best part of 12 hours setting up, operating and then dismantling it all, before setting off for the next concert.

In this, the next in the series of exclusive interviews at, we look at the role of Colin Walker, one of the sound techs who help make a Delirious? concert sound like a, well, a Delirious? concert!

Colin explains that he is "officially known in the itinerary as 'Delirious Monitor Engineer'". The job title might not mean much to some people, but as the man who is responsible for allowing Delirious? to hear each other's instruments and vocals while on stage, it is clearly a job with some importance. "I looked after all the sound on stage for the guys", says Colin. "So basically I was meant to stand by the side of stage with my very own mixing desk and assorted gadgets and try to make the guys sound fantastic in their in-ear-monitors and through the speakers on stage, in order to help them perform to the best of their abilities." But Colin's job isn't just limited to that. "In reality I think I was the 'Court Jester' of the crew, there to make everyone's life as joyful as possible, and yes, if that involved Monty Python in the ears or stray cups of tea arriving unexpectedly but on cue on stage to cause distraction, then that's what I did".

Colin describes how he and Delirious? go back a long way. "I have known most of the guys from before the Cutting Edge days. I used to work in studios with Tim and Martin and I first got to know Stu G when we both worked for Kevin Prosch back in about '93. My first gig with them as Delirious was at Stoneleigh in 2001. I had done sound at a few Cutting Edge events back in the day though!"

When asked to describe a typical day on the road with Delirious?, Colin explains that the crew's job differs depending on what type of concert the band are performing. "There are two types of days on the road" he says. "when you're touring your own production equipment, and when you are turning up without equipment to a festival or one-off show. The last two years has been pretty much the latter, with the exception of the UK World Service Tour. When you have your own equipment in a truck with you, the day basically starts at 9am when 'Lights & Video' load in. Shortly after the sound system will load in and then all the instruments (or backline as we know it). If all goes smoothly, the equipment is in and working by about 2 or 3pm. We are then usually fixing broken equipment or waiting for a 4pm soundcheck. At around 5.30 we would go to have some food and then wait for show time. After the show comes down, it would typically take between 2-3 hours to get all the equipment packed and back on the truck. So we get on the bus around 1am, usually pretty wired from the speedy load out, have some food and a drink and wander off to your bunk on the bus at about 2-3am. And then up at 9am again the next day for more of the same!"

"On days without our own production, we would generally arrive at a venue at a suitable time for the event we are part of. Sometimes this would be 8am at a festival to get set up and soundchecked before the festival opens it's doors to the public. You then get to wait around for about 13 hours before you get to do the show! At least with these shows the only equipment you need to pack up is the backline, so you can be clear of stage within about 30 minutes of the show ending!"

The sound check is an integral part of making sure that a band sound right for the concert itself. As monitor engineer, Colin's role during sound check is vital. "After we have loaded to stage and got completely set up, the band would be brought to stage. At this point I would have 'dialed in' my mixing desk. This means that I have effectively guessed where the switches and knobs should all be set at on the desk. Bear in mind there are usually about 800 knobs and 400 switches to get right! I would then run the sound check, getting each musician to play in turn to get everything just right, so the guys can give their best performance possible. Sometimes soundchecks last 10 minutes, sometimes an hour". At some events, Colin's job is made even more complicated when it's not possible to carry out a sound check. "On some recent festivals we have not had any chance to sound check at all. Greenbelt was an example of that this year, we couldn't set up the equipment until just before the showtime. Also, all the other bands were using the same mixing desk, so all my settings would have been lost even if we had sound-checked earlier. So the guys walked onto stage, not having heard a thing through their ears, and I just had to make sure from the first note they played they could at least hear themselves and each other well enough to play."

Through out the concert itself, Colin can be seen at the mixing desk making changes and keeping an eye on the band. "As each musician has his own mix, I would constantly be monitoring what each person was hearing and making adjustments accordingly. As Martin is the front man and doing the majority of the singing, I would concentrate on his mix most. The acoustics in different venues do affect how things sound on stage so quite often peoples mixes will change from one night to the next to accommodate this." Quite often the band will signal to Colin during a concert, requesting a change to how things sound. "Generally hand signals are made by the individuals to ask for more or less of certain instruments. Therefore I had to keep watching everybody at the same time. However I have never worked out what was meant by blowing kisses towards me - I'm hoping it was just because they liked me!!"

Despite listening to the songs night after night, Colin claims he still has a few favourites. "On the last tour it was probably 'Free' or 'Feel It Coming On'. The latter is probably the song I like mixing most at the moment. Of course Happy Song is right up there with Postman Pat though!"

Having worked for Delirious? at nearly every concert for the past three years, Colin now plans to take a break from the job to concentrate on his other commitments. "The recent World Service Tour is my last for the foreseeable future" he explains. "I have spent a long time away from home because of the D: this past couple of years and really need some time to get other projects completed. With D: being so busy now my other business interests have been effected rather! Most of my time is needed now running the company that I am one of two directors in: Orange Room Music. At the moment I am responsible for the management of 4 artists as well as running our own recording studio complex. Unfortunately Delirious can't afford to pay me the sort of money any more that justifies me neglecting our other responsibilities."

Looking back over the various tours he has accompanied Delirious? on, picking out some highlights is no easy task. "Where do I begin?" he laughs. "There's too many to pick one out!! Probably the funniest gags include talking to Stu G during his solo rendition of King Of Fools, Gaffa taping Jon's cable down so he couldn't reach his pedals for the encore and Martin being completely speechless the other week at Bradford when I took him a cup of tea in a cup and saucer when he asked for one!" And his best and worst experiences at a Delirious? concert? "Best experience was probably a profound goose bump moment during What A Friend at a gig about a year ago! Worst either goes to when my mixing desk blew up mid show and we had to quickly change to another one, or when the seating collapsed at Grapevine. Standing on stage with the guys seeing people trapped and not knowing how serious the casualties were was an experience I don't want to repeat! Oh, and I suppose touring the West Coast of America feeling ill and not actually realising that Septicaemia was setting in was pretty bad! Worst flight home experience that's for sure. I don't think I will ever visit my GP again in case he sends me to the hospital for an emergency op again!!"

Asked about the biggest concert he has worked at, Colin says "Creation East, USA had the most punters, but to be honest whether there is 500 in Camden Underworld or 80,000 at a US festival, they all feel the same in terms of pressure! I feel I should have a favourite city but to be honest I never really get to visit the city we're in. Usually all I see is a few metres of pavement between the tour bus and stage door! I think my favourite venue will always be Shepherds Bush Empire, London."

Colin describes how he bumped into Canadian Rocker Bryan Adams when Delirious? supported him in 2002. "I did the Bryan Adams tour which was great. I loved it when we were the support act because you get to the venue late and your job is finished early. I did laugh when I found myself on the telephone leaning on a flightcase backstage in Hyde Park. After a while I became aware of someone waiting for me to move. It turned out I was in Bryan's way as I was leaning on his wardrobe case. His was really nice about it though!"

Having now decided to stop touring with Delirious?, Colin has a busy schedule of his own to continue with in the Company that he runs. "Most of my time is taken up with Artist Management or Album Production. I have recently been getting more into video/DVD production as well. Our company released it's first mainstream product earlier this year which is a combined live CD with a concert DVD with documentary footage. It was great making it especially when we got to meet, film and interview James Brown, Paul Weller and Jools Holland, amongst others. This was for one of our artists called Carleen Anderson."

In addition to those big-name stars, Colin has also worked with a few other well known people. "We spend a lot of time working with Ben Castle (Pop Idol Big band leader and Roy Castle's son), Kate Simmonds (a worship leader from Colin's home church in Brighton) and a newcomer, Kit Ashton who you may have seen at Greenbelt this year. We have been known to work with many artists both Christian and not, whether that is remixing Placebo, through to recording vocals for Mat Redman. Life is very varied and on the most part very enjoyable. It is a real privilege to be given the chance to work in this industry, trying to make a difference for God."

Related Pages: