Monday, September 24, 2018

Concert Review: Ringo Starr and His All-Star Band


I understand we are talking rock and roll royalty on so many levels, but I was unprepared to watch almost an entire concert standing. The front orchestra barely sat down. The back orchestra was up and down. I could not see the box seats, but the excitement MUST have affected them as well.

‘Matchbox’ is the opener and has been given a Jerry Lee Lewis rock and roll feel. The scrim backdrop has Ringo’s fingers giving a peace sign and stars shooting across it. Tie-die effects change as the night progresses. The couple sitting next to me (Hi Mary and Brent!) have never seen Ringo in concert before. With tongue in cheek Brent says: 

“We hear he’s well known.”   
Me:   “I think he’s up and coming. You’ll hear of him again.”

‘It Don’t Come Easy’ is followed by ‘What Goes On,’ the only Lennon / McCartney / Starkey composition. “I know, I know. Like me you think it should have been Starkey / Lennon and MCartney, but NOOOOOOO!”
As Ringo now climbs up to his drum kit, the audience reacts with MORE applause and cheering than even before. I didn’t figure that was possible.

Graham Gouldman, from 10CC, sings a favorite composition of his, “Dreadlock Holiday.” He is the tall one on stage. To be fair, Gregg Rolie is seated at the keyboards, but Graham does take mastery of the stage from the height aspect. ‘Holiday’ was a massive hit for Graham everywhere … except in America. I am more familiar with Gouldman’s song writing than his live performing, as he has written songs for most of The British Invasion, as well as his own groups. He has quality vocals and later tonight I will relive them in memory as he sings other hit 10CC songs.

Gregg Rolie (called The Duke by his peers) hits the mic and keyboards with Santana’s ‘Evil Ways.’  I am now realizing just what a fantastic composite of musicians are on the stage tonight and on this tour. Each one is a king of his art, and together … OH S***! WOW!!

Steve Lukather of Toto is next with ‘Rosanna.’  EVERY song tonight has a Steve Lukather guitar solo that surpasses the one we just heard. That man is mechanical in the power he brings to these songs.

Men At Work’s Colin Hay’s first song is my cockatiel’s favorite song ever: ‘Land Down Under.’  She whistles along every time she hears it, and I always think, “How does she know her heritage is from Australia?” As Colin tells Graham, “This song was a hit everywhere … ESPECIALLY in America!” He has some great Gumby dance moves that he utilizes while Warren Ham is playing the flute solos. Wait a minute … these people are all older than I am? I thought I was staying young because of my students, but maybe it’s the music.   

Ringo introduces ‘Boys’ on the keyboards and then moves down stage to sing. Followed by ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ and an audience participation of ‘Yellow Submarine,’ wherein Graham tells Captain Ringo, “We’re in Wallingford, Sir”and brings the audience upward again in an ever-revolving high.

Ringo is in need of a Magical Musical Moment, which means he leaves the stage and the All Starrs take over. Here is where Graham Gouldman’s vocals rekindle my memory as he sings ‘I’m Not In Love.’  I am still in awe of the fact that I am hearing all these great performers, singing their hit songs, together on one stage! That may be the biggest magic of all. Each one, in turn, takes the lead and then backs up the others as their slot comes up. From the Santana album ‘Abraxas,’ Gregg Rolie sings ‘Black Magic Woman.’  Right after the second Santana album was released, I was on a family trip with friends at The Delaware Water Gap. The elder son of our hosts had both albums and refused to play anything other than those the entire weekend while he, his brother and I played cards. I had only heard the chart climbing songs so I remember listening intently the first 25 times. By then I could sing along.

Ringo returns and states, “I’ll just pace back and forth. I’ll just chat.” He is building up to performing ‘You’re 16,’ which must get him backlash from people who view it as creepy when mature men sing it. He is cautious as he asks, “Are there any YOUNG ladies in the audience?” Of course we all were, so he had to settle it by saying. “This is for all of YOU, then.” Before moving upstage to the drum kit, he sings his song, ‘Anthem’.  All about his trademark Peace and Love, it is simplistic in nature, but persuasive in thought. The only way to succeed in bringing peace and love to Earth is to try. Somebody has to try. It might as well be us.

Watching Ringo at the drums while Colin sings ‘Overkill’, it becomes so apparent that Ringo’s drumming is intense, but so relaxed and nonchalant in appearance. Let me catch up with the show here. Steve Lukather doing ‘Africa’. Gregg Rolie on killer keyboards with ‘Oye Como Va’ while Steve Lukather just kills his guitar doing solos. Ringo looks at the audience and says, “Look at that! He’s got me doing Latin American. Now for the song I used to do with that other group I was with … Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.” True enough. While he recorded ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ with The Beatles, he performed it with Rory’s group years before that. And then comes Graham Gouldman’s, ‘Things We Do For Love.’  The audience jumped in and just enjoyed the memories of all the silly things they (not me of course) did for love in years gone.

It still goes on. Colin singing ‘Knocking At My Door’. Steve singing ‘Love Isn’t Always On Time’. Ringo singing ‘Photograph,’ ‘Act Naturally’ and ‘With A Little Help From My Friends.’ 

The final song comes from the John Lennon songbook: Give Peace A Chance. Ringo leaves as the All Starrs continue, returns for his bow, and then leaves the All Starrs to take the final bows alone. The audience kept the applause going. They stayed on their feet. They got louder. All in the hopes of an encore, but no. It is over.

The two musicians on stage who anchored this show with percussion, saxophones, flute, keyboards and drums are Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette. It is a slightly over two hour, non-stop concert with no downers. I have attended Ringo’s All Starr concerts before and loved every one, but MAN THIS WAS JUMPING, JIVING, ROCKING AND CHILLING from beginning to end. Not because HE is Ringo. Not because THEY had hits. But because together they were just … that … good.

So Brent and Mary, what did you think?

“It was great! He just might make a name for himself.”
It could happen.
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano

We didn’t get tickets to see Ringo’s show this time around … but after reading Shelley’s review, I sure wish I had!!!  (He performed here last Saturday Night, September 22nd, to a sold out audience at The Chicago Theater ... so, unfortunately, it wasn’t even an option.)
This is a GREAT review, Shelley … really wish I could have seen it … sounds like a great line-up of artists, start to finish.  Thanks for letting us know!  (kk)