Monday, July 24, 2017 07:30 PM

Singing along with another Beatle!

in Music | Travel | Family by MegaBearsFan
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Paul McCartney concert
We got to see Paul McCartney perform live in the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

This past weekend, I got to cross something off my bucket list. My girlfriend and I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to see Paul McCartney in concert. I had already seen Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band perform in Vegas, so seeing Paul means that I've completed my collection of surviving Beatles.

Sir McCartney is currently touring the United States as part of his "One on One" tour. Unfortunately, his only California tour date conflicted with some travel plans that my girlfriend already had, so the next closest city was Des Moines, Iowa. So we flew out to Des Moines for the weekend, and took the opportunity to visit with my sister, who lives a couple hours away.

I became enamored with the Beatles when I was in college, so being able to have seen both Paul and Ringo in the flesh is very gratifying. Now if only they'd tour together...

Paul McCartney concert
Paul performed a ukelele tribute
to George Harrison.

I think it goes without saying that the concert was fantastic. It may not be John, George, and Ringo, but Paul's current band is pretty good in their own right. The concert opened with "A Hard Day's Night", and the setlist was made up of half Beatles tunes, and the other half being solo material and songs from Wings. One song was even from back before the Beatles were "the Beatles", as Paul performed "In Spite of All the Danger", which was written while Paul was part of The Quarrymen. In addition to playing with the band, Paul also performed a handful of solo pieces, such as "Blackbird" and "Yesterday" (as part of the lengthy encore).

I wasn't expecting to hear anything written by George Harrison or John Lennon, but Paul did play a ukele rendition of Harrison's "Something" as a tribute to his departed friend. It was very sweet.

Other Beatles numbers included "Can't Buy Me Love", "Eleanor Rigby", "We Can Work It Out", "Let It Be", and (of course) "Hey Jude" (complete with the audience singing a large chunk of the outro). Other songs from McCartney's career included "Maybe I'm Amazed", "My Valentine", and a very explosive "Live and Let Die". Walking out of the arena, I overheard several other attendees gushing over the pyrotechnics, and wondering how it's even possible to light off fireworks indoors. Being a native of Las Vegas, I thought that was kind of quaint and funny.

It was over two whole hours of classic Beatles / McCartney music. Paul didn't even take a break for an intermission. The only time he was off the stage was before coming back out for the seven-song encore that went through the "Sgt. Pepper" reprise (one of my faves), and the Abbey Road medley ("Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight", "The End"). That last bit even included footage from Beatles: Rock Band video game cutscenes.

He also brought a lucky family of fans up onto the stage to dance along to one of the songs. The whole family was dressed up in Sgt. Pepper costumes, and they all got a group hug with Sir Paul at the end. Maybe I'll have to make a Sgt. Pepper costume...

Paul McCartney concert
The lengthy encore included a solo performance of "Yesterday",
followed by "Sgt. Pepper" reprise, the Abbey Road medley, and more.

Not a fan of Des Moines

While the concert was great, the actual stay in Des Moines wasn't particularly enjoyable. For one thing, it was hot and humid. Fortunately, it was also overcast for most of the time we were there, so the at least the sun wasn't beating down on us the whole time. Also, unlike our trip to Germany, at least Des Moines has air conditioning! Nevertheless, we were sweaty and had to live with lots of "swamp ass"

The bigger problem was that we couldn't really find much to do. We stayed in Des Moines for the entire weekend (arriving Thursday night and leaving Sunday night). We did this so that we could meet with my sister, who lives only a couple hours away. We had a full day Saturday of visiting a nearby amusement / water park called Adventureland (which was hot and crowded), but other than that, we struggled to entertain ourselves for the remaining two days. We even had to kill time by going to a movie.

We also tried going to the Hoffbrauhause in Adventureland, but were severely disappointed with the quality of the beer offered. After having visited Germany, I think I've been ruined for American beer.

Stinky flower; disappointing flower

The one interesting thing that we did was visit the botanical garden.With a whole afternoon to kill before the concert, we decided to check out the resident corpse flower (Amorphophallus Titanum), which so far has been reluctant to bloom. These are exceptionally rare flowers from Sumatra (Indonesia) which bloom only once every 7 years or so, and which emit a vile odor reminiscent of rotting flesh when they open. We were hoping to maybe be able to see (and smell) the flower blooming, but we had no such luck.

corpse flower
The corpse flower in the botanical garden didn't bloom for us.

At least the food is good

At least Des Moines has good food. The highlight was a place called Fong's Pizza, which my girlfriend and I visited after the botanical garden. It's a pizza parlour and tikki bar that offers a very unique and diverse menu of pizzas and drinks. We had an appetizer of the Thai flatbread, which is covered in bacon and Thai peanut sauce. It's surprisingly good. For our entrees, we shared a bacon popper pizza and a crab rangoon pizza, which were both also quite excellent. The drinks were also pretty good.

My sister, her husband, my girlfriend, and I also met up again after the amusement park to eat at a place called Jethro's BBQ, which is a chain of BBQ restaurants along the lines of a Famous Dave's. The food at Jethro's was good, but was about the same as what we could get at a Famous Dave's. The stand-outs, however, were the drinks, which were outstanding! I definitely recommend the place for its cocktails!

Unfortunately, the night after eating at Jethro's, we all suffered from some digestive distress. For some of us, it was vomiting, for the others, it was diarrhea. I'm not sure if it was Jethro's that made us all sick, or if it was something at the amusement / water park (maybe something in the water?).

In summary, the concert was great. Love Paul McCartney! But I'd really prefer not to have to go back to Des Moines if I can avoid it.

"And in the end...
The love you take,
Is equal to the love ... you make.
   - The Beatles ("The End")

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