Inside Macca’s NYC Surprise

When Paul McCartney plays a concert, it’s always news, but when he eschews a stadium for a truck in the middle of Times Square, well, that’s an album launch heard around the world. Spending a speedy week making the rounds around New York to promote his new album, New, the former Beatle played two unannounced shows—one on a makeshift truck-trailer stage in Times Square and the other at a high-school auditorium in Queens. The audio equipment for both events was assembled on short notice by PRG (Secaucus, NJ).
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Paul McCartney played a guerilla-style 15-minute set at Times Square in October; the crowd heard him a system from PRG that included a Meyer Mica line array. Photo by Mark C. Burns.
New York, NY (November 12, 2013)—When Paul McCartney plays a concert, it’s always news, but when he eschews a stadium for a truck in the middle of Times Square, well, that’s an album launch heard around the world. Spending a speedy week making the rounds around New York to promote his new album, New, the former Beatle played two unannounced shows—one on a makeshift truck-trailer stage in Times Square and the other at a high-school auditorium in Queens. The audio equipment for both events was assembled on short notice by PRG (Secaucus, NJ).

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For the Times Square truck-trailer performance, a compact system of four Mica loudspeakers and one 600-HP subwoofer per side was used to accommodate truck roof clearance and transport stability. The police permit allowed only 15 minutes total for the performance, so there was zero setup time. Front-of-house was squeezed into front-of-trailer, and Meyer Sound self-powered Mica line array loudspeakers, instruments and backline were transported in place and ready for show time shortly after the trailer’s side wall was dropped.

“The beauty about using the self-powered Micas in Times Square was the fact that I didn't need any external amp racks,” said Paul “Pab” Boothroyd, McCartney’s longtime engineer. “They were all self-contained that way, with A/C and speaker cabling included. Mica is a very nice smaller PA box, and I had no problem achieving the desired level of detail and punch with them; all went well, and the result was an exciting and pleasing show.”

The Times Square show was announced via Twitter with one hour’s notice, attracting a sizeable crowd that filled the open square and risers. “It sounded great,” said freelance engineer Paul Bevan, assigned by PRG to on-site coordination. “The coverage was uniform, and surprisingly strong to the back of the crowd, which was about 120 feet from the stage.” McCartney played four songs from New during his 15-minute set. Bevan estimates that well over 2,000 were in attendance.

With no room on the truck for a monitor console, Boothroyd generated a monitor mix from his Avid Venue Profile FOH console during rehearsals. The bare-bones stage setup barely allowed room for the five musicians, instruments, and backline amplifiers. The band belted into Shure Beta 58A vocal microphones.

The previous day, the band performed for 400 students at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts’ Tony Bennett Concert Hall. The show featured a system comprising floor-stacked arrays of five-each Mica loudspeakers over two 600-HP subwoofers. Four M1D line array loudspeakers were used as front fill, and system drive was supplied by a Galileo loudspeaker management system with one Galileo 616 processor. An Avid Venue Profile console was provided for Boothroyd.

“Paul’s production team called us just a few days ahead,” says David Strang, general manager of audio for PRG. “They were looking for a system that could do the high school auditorium show, then be moved to the truck stage in just a few hours, and provide excellent sound for both. A self-powered system was a must, and with the small footprint allowed on the truck, Mica was easily the best choice.”

Meyer Sound Labs
www.meyersound.com