Paul McCartney still surprises


Paul McCartney performs at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Friday, July 21, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]A marriage proposal in the front row. A nine-months pregnant woman a few chairs back from me. A family of four in matching home-sewn Sgt. Peppers outfits, dancing and singing along to “Birthday.” Sir Paul McCartney’s songs mark the milestones of our lives.

The affable and fit 75-year-old rock legend brought his aptly-named One on One tour to the Wells Fargo arena in Des Moines Friday night, leading the capacity crowd through a half century of life’s moments, song by song.

The proposal happened during “Something” (she said yes); after a rendition of “Maybe I’m Amazed” on baby grand piano, McCartney told the pregnant woman not to worry if she went into labor because “we have people for that.” The lucky Sgt. Pepper family was brought on stage and introduced their two children, Stella and Julian (now that’s hardcore fandom) before McCartney dedicated “Birthday” to anyone in the audience “who might have a birthday sometime this year.”

Even for folks in the rafters, the atmosphere must have seemed intimate. Two video cameras mounted on cranes snaked unobtrusively along either side of the proscenium, projecting their images on two giant vertical screens flanking the stage—so even from afar, Sir Paul and the band appeared life-sized and life-like. And what a lively show it was. Someone or something was always in motion during the three-hour set, whether it was the tight four-piece band or the equally engaging lights and images flickering on the backdrop. There were even lasers, flash pots and confetti. [/vc_column_text][hcode_image_gallery image_gallery_type=”lightbox-gallery” simple_image_type=”feet” lightbox_type=”masonry” column=”2″ image_gallery=”120575,120584,120583,120581,120580,120576,120582,120577,120579,120578″][vc_column_text]A show like this has to be highly choreographed and expertly timed, but nevertheless it felt spontaneous and relaxed. When McCartney told a story, it was as though he had just remembered it and hey, you might get a kick out of it, if you have a minute. It was these quieter moments that held the most resonance, whether it be a funny anecdote about sharing a cab (and a song) with the Rolling Stones, or the poignant tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison.

I was moved to tears on occasion, especially at the never-before-seen outtakes from iconic album cover photos. In a world ever saturated with Beatles songs and images, it’s still possible to be surprised and moved by the keeper of their enduring legacy.


  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Save Us
  3. Can’t Buy Me Love
  4. Letting Go
  5. Temporary Secretary
  6. Let Me Roll It
  7. I’ve Got a Feeling
  8. My Valentine
  9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
  10. Maybe I’m Amazed
  11. We Can Work It Out
  12. In Spite of All the Danger
  13. You Won’t See Me
  14. Love Me Do
  15. And I Love Her
  16. Blackbird
  17. Here Today
  18. Queenie Eye
  19. New
  20. The Fool on the Hill
  21. Lady Madonna
  22. FourFiveSeconds
  23. Eleanor Rigby
  24. I Wanna Be Your Man
  25. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
  26. Something
  27. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  28. Band on the Run
  29. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  30. Let It Be
  31. Live and Let Die
  32. Hey Jude


  1. Yesterday
  2. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
  3. Hi, Hi, Hi
  4. Birthday
  5. Golden Slumbers
  6. Carry That Weight
  7. The End


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