June 18, 2014 Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band rock a sold out NYCB at Westbury Theatre, NY 6-11-14
One of rock-n-roll history’s most beloved characters is without question The Beatles drummer, Mr. Ringo Starr. Being the beat in The Beatles, Ringo has been embraced by adoring fans for over fifty years as he continues to make new music and perform live. Back in 1989, Ringo brainstormed a magnificent concept known as Ringo Starr & His All-Starr band. Consisting of twelve varied line-ups over the years, in 2014 the band consists of Ringo Starr, Toto’s Steve Lukather (guitar, vocals), Santana original Gregg Rolie (organ, keyboards, vocals), Todd Rundgren (guitars, vocals), Mr. Mister’s Richard Page (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals), the accomplished Warren Ham (saxophone, keyboards, vocals), and David Lee Roth Band’s Gregg Bissonette (drums). Talk about an ensemble of talented, veteran, and star musicians all on stage together at once, this is a rock fan’s dream. In the early part of a twenty-eight date summer tour, on Wednesday June 11th, Ringo and his band made a stop at a the familiar NYCB at Westbury Theatre to play to a sold-out crowd. Having made several appearances at the historic Long Island, NY venue in the past it felt like home for Ringo and his followers, many wearing Beatles t-shirts, piling into the theater for the musical journey.
As the lights went down and anticipation rose so did everyone from their seats cheering for Ringo and the band which exploded onto to the stage with “Matchbox”. Originally recorded at the BBC back in 1963, the Carl Perkins song has become a Ringo signature and it kicked things into high gear. Immediately going into his solo hit “It Don’t Come Easy”, the crowd was swaying back and forth as Ringo moved about the stage engaging each corner of the theater with smiles and peace signs in the air. Greeting the audience with warm hellos and making the show feel that much more intimate, Ringo joked and provoked laughter in-between songs. Interjecting in his newer music, Ringo played the 2012 song “Wings” which sounded fresh for the new millennium.
Exiting from behind the microphone for a period, it was time for Ringo to go behind his drum kit alongside Bissonette. Matching each others beat perfectly for the next portion of the show, Rundgren took the lead on vocals and gracefully sang his 1972 hit “I Saw the Light”. Beatlesque in its style, the song still sounds great all these years later. Like a jukebox of classic rock, next Rolie took the spotlight behind his keyboard as he sang the Santana classic “Evil Ways”. Sounding as good as the day it was recorded, the entire band brought the track to life with spot-on, emotional playing. All the while Ringo jammed behind the drums showing why he is one of rocks most iconic drummers.
Fast-forward to the 1980’s, the show next featured Lukather on vocals for a rocking rendition of Toto’s “Rosanna”. Having the audience on their feet all the way through, many could be spotted dancing and singing along with the words. With each members abilities being brought to light, the keyboards, guitars, drums, and bass all sounded tight when Page broke into Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie”. A signature track of the 80’s, Page sounded spectacular on vocals as the synthesizers gave off an inviting texture. When the chorus of the track broke out there was a feeling of excitement flowing through the theater as everyone seemed to know the words and join in the singing. Receiving a rain of applause, this segment of the performance concluded with the unforgettable track “Bang the Drum All Day” with Rundgren on vocals. Unbelievably upbeat and catchy, the fun nature of the song was captured flawlessly.
Taking the microphone yet again, Ringo bounced out from behind the drums to sing “Boys”, which he playful referred to as one from “that other band” he was apart of. Originally a Shirelles tune, Ringo and The Beatles made the song famous, and the 2014 edition was as lively as ever. Ringo jumped around in a youthful matter as Rundgren ripped into a great guitar solo inspiring him to hop off the stage and lean closely into the crowd. Keeping that Beatles energy flowing, the next song began with a unison clap from the theater as Ringo sang “Don’t Pass Me By”. Always one of Ringo’s memorable tunes, it would have be unjust not to sing or at least hum along with the words. Directly following Ringo broke into his most historic offering to music history with “Yellow Submarine”. Waving his hands back and forth in the air as he sang the song with utter glee, he gave the song the attention it most certainly deserved. With the room full of a broad age groups it was easy to see the wonder on the faces of the younger members of the crowd as the song concluded.
Slowing things down a bit, Rolie led the room into euphoria with “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen”. Bringing the emotional guitar work of the song to life, Lukarther and Rundgren showed why they are All-Starr musicians. The song received a warm reception from everyone before Ringo took the lead again for the classic “Honey Don’t”, followed by his newer solo piece “Anthem”. Proving that his songwriting skills have not diminished, Ringo’s new songs mixed wonderfully with the old classics while keeping everyone’s full attention. This led into Page performing his beautiful song “You Are Mine”. Debuting for the first time on this tour, the track features thoughtful lyrics with Page’s vocal inflections translating into an inspiring performance.
Keeping the room on the edge of their seat, the band went into Toto’s mega-hit “Africa” followed by the Latino classic “Oye como va”, and Rudgren on “Love Is The Answer”. Sprinkling in another Beatles tune, Ringo performed “I Wanna Be Your Man”. With Ringo turning 74 on July 7th, he has the energy of someone half his age, which really was a sight to see. His pleasant demeanor and relexed attitude merely added to the shows ambiance and entertainment value all the way through.
Wondering if the night could get any better, that is when the biggest adrenaline rush came with Page on “Broken Wings” followed by the hard rocking Toto song “Hold the Line”. Lukarther masterfully led the latter with enthusiasm as Rolie’s keyboard work held the song together. The intensity bled through the aisles as Rundgren let loose on guitar, chopping at the killer riff and solo, jumping around in animated fashion. Given a moment to catch their breath, the homestretch of the show was filled with Ringo shining bright. Playing his masterful “Photograph”, the song still holds up as a reminiscent tribute to memories past. The touching song went into the country tingling tune “Act Naturally”. Originally a B-side to “Yesterday” here in the USA, the song has become a fan favorite for Beatles fans since its 1965 release. Closing out the evening, Ringo played another of his unmistakable Beatles tunes “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Leaving a sense of warmth in the air, yet another sing-along erupted with everyone on their feet. As Ringo and the band said goodnight to the audience they sang a fitting closing tribute to John Lennon with “Give Peace A Chance”.
It is one thing to hear a tribute act perform covers of rock favorites, but it is another to see the original artists bring the songs all together for one set list as an cohesive band. Ringo Starr & His All-Starr band do exactly that in a monumental style. Helping audiences relive an historic ride through the past fifty years of rock-n-roll, each song in the set was equally as powerful as the last. Combine that with living legend Ringo performing his Beatles tunes and that is a recipe for a live concert no one should miss. Exhibiting the poise of veteran rockers with youthful showmanship, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr have not missed a step, still sharing a love for the music and performing it to their fans. Catch this tour before it concludes July 19th in Los Angeles, CA, it is an experience not to be missed.