“New York! Where you can always find a parking space!”
— Ringo Starr, September 13, 2018
Ah, the witty, wonderful Sir Richard Starkey – Ringo Starr – always the Beatle in the background, the comic relief in the band’s films, the deep Liverpudlian voice singing lighthearted numbers like “Yellow Submarine.” Since 1989 he’s been touring regularly with an ever-revolving who’s-who of rock ’n’ roll including Todd Rundgren, Billy Preston, Joe Walsh, Jack Bruce, Edgar Winter, John Entwistle, Sheila E., Nils Lofgren, Dr. John, Rick Derringer…the list, like Starr’s music, goes on forever.
The 2018 edition of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band features Gregg Rolie of Santana on keyboards and vocals, Colin Hay of Men at Work on guitar and vocals, Graham Gouldman of 10cc on bass and vocals, Steve Lukather of Toto on guitar and vocals, Gregg Bissonette on drums, multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham on assorted horns, keys, percussion, and vocals…and of course the man himself switching between lead vocals and drums. The group pulled into NYC for a spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, pleasing the all-ages (but primarily 50-something) crowd from the opening beat of “Matchbox” to the fitting finale “With a Little Help from My Friends/Give Peace a Chance.”
l-r: Rolie, Ham, Lukather, Starr, Bissonette, Gouldman, Hay (photo by me)
Against a backdrop of flowers and stars, uh starrs (and occasional peace symbols), the All-Starrs alternated between Ringo-sung Beatles classics, hits from the guy’s solo career, and plenty of 70s-80s sounds courtesy of Rolie, Hay, Lukather, and Gouldman – the highlights (or as Ringo introduced them, “magical musical moments”) being a shortened, acoustic version of the 10cc hit “I’m Not in Love” and an appropriately percussionistic journey through Santana’s “Black Magic Woman.” And when was the last time you heard Men at Work’s MTV staple “Who Can It Be Now?” – or Toto’s first single “Hold the Line” – or Santana’s rousing version of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” – or even 10cc’s reggae spoof and bigger-hit-in-England-than-here “Dreadlock Holiday”? Ok, maybe not that long ago – but they certainly sounded great sprinkled in between fun and fab numbers like “What Goes On,” “Boys,” “Don’t Pass Me By,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” and the Buck Owens-penned “Act Naturally.”
Solo Ringo hits “It Don’t Come Easy,” “You’re Sixteen,” and “Photograph” were all preceded by corny but charming introductions, and “Anthem” (the opener from his 2012 album Ringo 2012 – who came up with that title), was a not-as-familiar but welcome sentiment: “This is an anthem, for peace and love.” In the center of the set was the sing-along segment, the ever-popular “Yellow Submarine”…though disappointingly absent was “Octopus’s Garden,” another Starkey composition and one that would have gone over well with the kids at the show – accompanied by their Ringo-fan family members.
At 78 years young, Ringo Starr remains the entertainer’s entertainer, as spry and sprightly as ever, looking forever fashionable in his dark outfits and trademark gradient-tinted shades, and flashing the two-finger peace sign every chance he gets – his audience flashing it right back at him.
Images courtesy ringosbeatlekits.com, mindbox.com.au, ludwig-drums.com, fabulousfox.com, last.fm, tmhome.com
YouTube videos courtesy The Beatles/(C) 2015 Calderstone Productions Limited (a division of Universal Music Group) / Apple Corps Ltd. / Subafilms Ltd; and marcopertusati