Editor’s Note: Zeke completed this review about … ummm… a week ago.
I have now seen both of the living Beatles. Ringo is off the bucket list from my article a couple weeks ago. Sadly I now have to put Paul Simon back on the list and THAT will probably never change. However no one can go to every concert and I have zero complaints.
As I mentioned in my preview, Ringo always brings friends and his 2018 All Starr Band includes Colin Hay (“Who Can It be Now”, “Overkill”, “Land Down Under”), Steve Lukather(“Africa”, “Hold The Line”, “Roseanna”), Gregg Rolie (“Black Magic Woman”, “Oye Como Va”, “Evil Ways”) and new member Graham Gouldman of 10cc (“I’m Not In Love”, “Things We Do For Love” “Dreadlock Holiday”). On percussion, keys, flute, vocals, and sax was Warren Ham and on drums Gregg Bissonette.
With the exception of Gouldman, all of these guys have been backing Starr for years. They played together with the cohesion you would expect from guys who know and respect each other. In fact, I have rarely if ever seen a band compliment each other so much during a show. The show felt like a bunch of buddies getting together to jam and then being tight and amazing. Gouldman had a few rough patches (especially Overkill which did not work musically – luckily Hay nailed the vocals) but overall fit in nicely.
What was cool was I will probably never see a full concert by Toto, 10cc, or Gregg Rolie but I got to hear the 8 songs I would have gone to the show excited to hear. I will see Colin Hay especially after his amazing performance. Of particular note was his vocal pyrotechnics on the Toto/Weezer song Africa. He sounded fantastic singing the high part.
The vocals were all stellar. You would expect that with six lead singers on stage, but singing lead is way different than harmony and back ups. They sounded absolutely perfect. Most records don’t sound as good as these folks.
Oh and there was Ringo.
Ringo sang lead on exactly half of the evening’s songs (which by the way at 24 songs and two hours on the button felt like a tease). If he hadn’t been doing this for thrity years, you would think this was a concession to his age. When asked about the concept, Ringo said, “Even I would be bored with two hours of only me.” I would have to say he would be the only one.
Ringo did only one song from the last 40 years – Anthem from the record Ringo 2012. Other than that it was solo hits, Beatles songs popular and obscure, and covers.
Listen Ringo is 78 and can do whatever he wants. He came out in skintight leather pants, a stretchy t-shirt and flashy coat looking more fit than most people 30 or 40 years his junior (like uh me). His voice sounds the same as always. He danced when out front and drummed with Bissonette on at least half of the songs.
I would have loved for Ringo to take a solo on drums or even for the two drummers to play a duet. It was not to be. Ringo was just one of the guys this night. Depite putting out five records in the last ten years, Starr avoided showcasing them or even slipping a song in.
This choice probably would thrill most people, but I’ve listened to them and liked/loved them. Ringo seems to have no interest in playing these songs. After some reseach, I beleive he’s only done two proper “solo” shows in the last twenty five years. Clearly he is able physically but would people turn up. This is the second show in a row at the 2,676 seat Heinz Hall. While both sold out, I was shocked he played such a small venue.
I knew what to expect coming in, had high expectations, and they were met. The best part was exposing my 13 year old son to this. He didn’t really know the other people on the stage but was like a kid in a candy store. Since we rescheduled Paul Simon he has been Christmas morning excited. He and many other teenagers through people older than Ringo got what they were coming for.
I doubt we will ever get a Ringo solo tour, but he’s still alive, still sounding like Ringo, and still promoting Peace and Love. To borrow a line from his bandmate, “And What’s Wrong With That?”
RINGO AND HIS ALL-STARR BAND SETLIST
Matchbox (Carl Perkins cover)
It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr song)
What Goes On (The Beatles cover)
Dreadlock Holiday (10cc cover)
Evil Ways (Willie Bobo cover)
Rosanna (Toto cover)
Down Under (Men at Work cover)
Boys (The Shirelles cover)
Don’t Pass Me By (The Beatles cover)
Yellow Submarine (The Beatles cover)
I’m Not in Love (10cc cover)
Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen (Santana cover)
You’re Sixteen (Johnny Burnette cover)
Anthem (Ringo Starr song)
Overkill (Men at Work cover)
Africa (Toto cover)
Oye Como Va (Tito Puente cover) ..
I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles cover)
The Things We Do for Love (10cc cover)
Who Can It Be Now? (Men at Work cover)
Hold the Line (Toto cover)
Photograph (Ringo Starr song)
Act Naturally (Buck Owens cover)
With a Little Help From My Friends (The Beatles cover) (with “Give Peace a Chance”)