Ringo Starr & his All-Starr Band: A celebration of music
Adam Flores | Senior Writer
Richard Starkey, also known professionally as Ringo Starr and former drummer and vocalist of the legendary English rock band, The Beatles, brought his All-Starr Band to the Ted Constant Convocation Center on Nov. 12.
The two-hour set featured not only the music of The Beatles and Starr’s illustrious solo career but also covered songs by other artists (Carl Perkins and Buck Owens, among others) that influenced Starr and his bandmates through their respective musical careers. The near-capacity crowd was also treated to renditions of hit songs by four of the seven band members’ respective eras culminating in a performance celebrating popular music over the past several decades.
As a member of rock royalty and a premier showman in his own right, Starr effortlessly kept the audience engaged in song and dialog displaying his multifaceted talents primarily as a singer and drummer along with sharing stories and exchanging humorous, quick wit with fans between songs.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. Alright! Are you ready to have some fun? Are you ready to listen to some good music? Well that’s what you’re gonna get tonight and you know, we do it every night and it don’t come easy,” Ringo said to an enthusiastic Ted crowd as his band then launched into his song, “It Don’t Come Easy.”
Starr’s persona and charm was a big hit with the audience, especially in reference to his fellow Beatles members.
“Alright, I’m gonna tell you this little story of this next song we’re gonna sing. It was the only song ever written by Lennon, McCartney and Starkey. I’m gonna tell you I tried to write it alone, but they forced me to use them. I didn’t like to see them cry. And, it’s called, “What Goes On.”
Vocalist and guitarist Todd Rundgren was featured shortly into the set as the band covered his 1972 track, “I Saw the Light.” Later, Rundgren covered another of his classic hits, 1983’s “Bang the Drum All Day,” paying homage to Starr.
After the song, Starr said, “I love playing that song. You know, when we are doing that song, I’m looking around because you know some of you are little right now and…well…I didn’t mean it that way (everyone breaks into laughter). Ah, the good old days. But I see some of you sort of thinking and I always think you’re all thinking, ‘That would be a good idea. Bang the drum all day.’ Well, guess what? That’s what I do!”
Starr and The Beatles are attributed with being an influence on many musicians to this day. Journey drummer Steve Smith said, “Before Ringo, drum stars were measured by their soloing ability and virtuosity. Ringo’s popularity brought forth a new paradigm…We started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect…His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music and still identify the song.”
As Starr stepped out to front his band, veteran drummer Gregg Bissonette maintained visual timekeeping duties. In a past interview with the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), Bissonette said this about Starr’s inclusion in the PAS Hall of Fame:
“His playing is so innocent and emotional, heartfelt and not pretentious at all. The parts work for the song, and he never did fills when there were vocals going on. He always waited for those breaks; he never stepped on the vocal. He subscribed to the ‘less is more’ philosophy throughout the verses, and when there was a place for a fill, they said a lot. Like on “Help,” “Ticket to Ride” or “Tell Me Why,” they were often double stops at very brisk tempos.
“Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help from My Friends” brought the audience to their feet singing along with Starr.
Toto guitarist and session ace Steve Lukather came forward during the show covering “Rosanna” and “Africa” with the band. Mr. Mister frontman and bassist Richard Page was allotted some time to cover his band’s ‘80s hits, “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings.” Santana and Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie led the band with his covers of “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” and “Oye como va.” Starr joined in the fun during these songs playing drums alongside Bissonette.
Rounding out the band was saxophonist, backing vocalist and auxiliary percussionist Warren Ham, whose credits include touring with Kansas, Olivia Newton-John and Donna Summer.
The 25-song set left the crowd wanting more.
Ringo Starr & his All-Starr Band left a memorable impression upon an intergenerational crowd of music lovers and fans at The Ted. Bringing back the songs of yesterday, this supergroup brought to light the spirit and purpose of popular music in our society and culture.
“All right! Now we’re cooking! You know, I think I’ll just walk up and down the stage for the next half an hour going, ‘Hey, peace and love. Peace and love. Peace and love…,’” Starr said onstage in his signature, jovial voice.