Pab Boothroyd On Mixing Paul McCartney Live: Take A Great Set And Make It Better

Meeting the challenges of quickly segueing between wildly divergent mixes

By PSW Staff April 21, 2010

How to you mix a live performance of some of the most iconic music in modern culture, performed by the icon himself?

Like the song says, you just let it be. For more than 20 years, Paul “Pab” Boothroyd has been the keeper of the keys to Paul McCartney’s live sound, and that’s been his philosophy.

“These are songs that every person in the audience has an attachment to,” Boothroyd says.

“Whether it’s a particular guitar hook or a certain vocal harmony, they expect to hear these songs in a certain familiar way. My job is to reproduce that as faithfully as possible.”

Of course, when you’re talking about a repertoire that covers the entire Beatles catalog, plus four decades of McCartney’s solo career, the challenges of quickly segueing between wildly divergent mixes would make most engineers cringe.

But holding court from behind his VENUE Profile console, Boothroyd is as confident as he is unassuming.

“The Profile allows me to save snapshots for the entire set,” he says.

“Typically I get the set list just before the show begins, so I’m able to pull up each mix as we go and just fine-tune it.”

One of the first things one notices is how remarkably uncluttered Boothroyd’s front of house setup is – just the Profile and FOH rack. (He sets up a duplicate Profile system at every show, but has yet to use it.)

“I’m using the plug-ins in the desk pretty much exclusively, so there’s no need for a lot of racks.” he reports. Before moving to the Profile, Boothroyd’s setup employed two 48-channel analog consoles and no shortage of outboard gear.

The Profile console’s small footprint has come in handy on a number of occasions, he reports. “I’ve literally mixed shows in a closet for Paul. When we played the Cavern Club, for example, we took the doors of a closet and I set up there.”

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