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Mike Stevens On Tour With Take That - Songs Of Progress

Published: Tue August 20, 2013  News Feed

Mike Stevens On Tour With Take That - Songs Of Progress

Mike Stevens Take That Tour

Thanks to Sound On Sound for this picture of Mike.

Find out who's using Yamaha on tour with Adele, Rihanna and Jessie J.

Mike Stevens' incredible musical talent has taken him from Birmingham School Of Music to session work in London and all around the world as a musical director for a wide variety of artists, everyone from 10cc to Boyzone and Bill Withers. However it's his work for Take That which has taken up most of his time for the the past 7 years. Since the boys reformation in 2006 they've been touring regularly with a serious stage presence that involves a crew of over 300 and at one point a 60ft. tall metal man called Om!

Despite there being occasional, unavoidable mechanical lockups most Take That shows go off without a hitch. No mean feat given the variability of the conditions on a European or World tour, different electrical standards, health & safety and language barriers are all regular obstacles such a large scale production must overcome. Of course pre-production plays a big part in solving these issues and Mike spends a lot of time with artists nailing down what they want to achieve musically, as he told Sound On Sound.

"In more recent years, I've worked with people like Mika, who has a very strong idea of what he wants musically, as do Take That,” says Stevens. "When Will Young started, he was quite production-led. Now he's totally music-led, but he's always been quite clear on what he wants and the way he wants it. Other people have a natural feel. James Morrison is an easy one in that respect because he likes the music very live and very organic, so it's quite a natural process to go live with that and not just having a bunch of musicians doing what was being done in the studio."

If the band really want's to change the sound on tour then Mike often gets involved with writing pieces for the show, whether it's additional arrangements for album tracks or whole new pieces. A lot of the incidental music on Take That's Progress Tour was composed by Mike and it allows him to set the mood between big numbers or that the start of the show.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

While touring around the world with Take That is undeniably a big gig, being Musical Director for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert is even bigger. With pop royalty like Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Elton John & Stevie Wonder playing and real royalty in attendance the pressure was pretty immense, never mind the live broadcast on the BBC. So what kind of gear does Mike rely on to make sure his performance is perfect every time?

 Mike Stevens' Yamaha Keyboards

Mike Stevens Yamaha CP1
Yamaha CP1 Stage Piano


"I endorse Yamaha, but I've been a fan of their keyboards for years. Yamahas are very strong in the Rhodes piano sort of area, and they have a distinctive sound that really cuts well in the live environment." - Sound On Sound
Take That Yamaha
Yamaha Motif Series Music Production Keyboard


"...I'm only interested in getting the best sounds I can. But, for these sort of gigs especially, the Motifs are great. You know, one minute you're doing Shirley Bassey and the next minute you're doing JLS, so you've got to have a lot of versatility with the sounds you have." - Sound On Sound

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