Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
July 19, 2014
Los Angeles, CA
Review & Photos by Junkman
I will always jump at a chance to catch a living legend. Tonight, I got to see lots of them. Leading the charge was Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band featuring Todd Rundgren and Steve Lukather on guitars, Richard Page (of Mr. Mister) on bass, founding Santana and Journey member Gregg Rolie on the Hammond B3 organ and keyboards, drummer Gregg Bissonette, and Warren Ham on saxophone, keyboards and percussion. That is a lot of living legends right there, isn't it?
Things got started as Chris Carter, longtime host of radio's "Breakfast With The Beatles" show, came out and welcomed the crowd and the musicians, who immediately tore into the old Carl Perkins number, "Matchbox." Out came Ringo, flashing his famous peace sign and looking great at 74 years young, singing the vocals in the same key he did in 1963.
The band then broke into Ringo's 1971 hit "It Don't Come Easy." To paraphrase the song’s lyrics, Ringo was "shouting and leaping about" enthusiastically — something that would be happening all night. He then went into his latest release, Ringo 2012, for the song "Wings," which is actually an older song that he originally recorded in 1977.
It was now time to do what he does best, and Ringo jumped behind his sparkly, red Ludwig kit, while his bandmates played some of the songs from THEIR storied careers. Todd Rundgren, decked out in a bright psychedelic outfit, got things going with his 1972 hit "I Saw The Light." He was followed by Gregg Rolie leading the band through Santana's "Evil Ways."
Steve Lukather, my absolute favorite guitarist, was next to take the lead, and that he did, with the Toto hit from 1982, "Rosanna," that had everyone in the sold-out Greek Theatre on their feet and singing the chorus. Lukather then joked about Richard Page looking so young, as he introduced him, and Page then sang a letter-perfect version of Mr. Mister's hit song "Kyrie."
Rundgren then appeared center stage, and using a snare drum led the band in his 1982 hit "Bang The Drum All Day" that showcased Ringo and Bissonette's drumming skills. The crowd, an all-star group in itself, roared its approval. Spotted in the audience, among others, were musicians Dave Stewart, Jim Keltner (Ringo's favorite drummer), Jeff Lynne, Edgar Winter, Joseph Williams, David Paich and Steve Porcaro of Toto, and, of course, Ringo's brother in-law, guitarist Joe Walsh. I also spotted actors Danny Devito and Rheah Perlman, as well as actress Cassandra Peterson (AKA Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) all having a great time. So LA...
Ringo then introduced the next song as one that he played with a previous band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. They lit into "Boys" with Lukather, Rundgren and Page all crowding the microphone Beatle-style for the "bop shoo-op, bop-bop shoo-op" backing vocals. Ringo played the electric piano and sang "Don't Pass Me By" from The White Album, before leading the crowd in the loudest sing-along of the night, you guessed it: "Yellow Submarine."
Rolie took the reins with the classic "Black Magic Woman," the Fleetwood Mac song made famous by Santana. The real star of this one was Steve Lukather and his magic guitar. Channeling Carlos Santana and going beyond, Lukather had the crowd on its feet throughout. He just always seems to play the right riff at the right time, and then go beyond, to make it his own. Just a master craftsman.
Lukather switched over to a more rockabilly style sound for "Honey Don't," the Carl Perkins song that Ringo and the Beatles recorded. Ringo then dipped back into the Ringo 2012 album for the song "Anthem," co-written with Glen Ballard, who was in the audience and would later come onstage.
Page returned and played a song on acoustic guitar that he said he had written in Nashville entitled "You Are Mine" with Ringo, who was seated and playing the Cajon (a percussion box played with the hands). Lukather led the band in a rousing version of the Toto hit "Africa," which he dedicated to Toto bandmate David Paich, that had the sold- out crowd, both old and young, singing at the top of their lungs, especially the lady behind me, who's voice was so incredibly off-key that I had to leave my seat and head to the men's room. Of particular note, Will Ham showed off his incredible talent with a great soprano sax solo.
Rolie took the lead once again for another Santana classic "Oye Como Va," followed by Rundgren and his addition to the peace and love vibe with a nice version of "Love Is The Answer." He clearly was having a great time onstage, as did everyone up there, but he seemed to be the most animated.
Ringo, from behind the drums, rocked out to "I Wanna Be Your Man," before Page brought things down a bit with the soft-rock sound of Mr. Mister's biggest hit, "Broken Wings." The man can really hit the soprano notes, and the crowd reacted with a huge applause.
It was time for another rocker and Lukather again was the man. "Hold The Line," Toto's first hit, was next and again the crowd sang every note, as Luke rocked his guitar like it was an audition. I can't say enough about what a great guitarist he is. But I will: He's a great guitarist!
Ringo led everyone through a nice version of "Photograph," his #1 hit from 1973, and a favorite of all of us "camera operators" at the show. He then cranked up his version of the old Buck Owens song "Act Naturally." Band members were clearly having some fun with this one and Ringo was beaming throughout.
Finally, it was time to wrap things up with the obligatory "With A Little Help From My Friends," complete with the "Billy Shears" intro. And up to the stage came the friends. Jim Keltner behind the drum kit, and Edgar Winter, Jeff Lynne, Ben Harper and others all joining in on vocals for the classic cut from Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. This segued into John Lennon's peace anthem "Give Peace A Chance" that had the entire Greek Theatre singing.
And that was that. The band bowed to the screaming crowd, and on came the lights and the good nights, and I'm a poet and didn't even know it. A good time was guaranteed for all, to paraphrase another Beatle tune. I hope to be looking as well as Ringo Starr if I make it to 74, and hope to be bashing my drum kit in the same matter as my earliest drum idol, too. Not sure yet if there will be an All Starr Band in 2015, but with Ringo turning 75, I'd say it's a pretty good bet. Peace and love to all!