Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band thrill at the Greek Theatre

From left, Steve Lukather, Ringo Starr, Warren Ham, Graham
Gouldman, Colin Hay and Gregg Bissonette.
Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
Who: Ringo Starr, Steve Lukather, Colin Hay, Gregg Rolie, Graham Goldman, more
Where: The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles
When: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018

Review and photographs by Robert Kinsler

Every time I catch Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band in concert I'm reminded how much much fun rock 'n' roll can be.

Such was the case on Saturday night (Sept. 29, 2018), where the world's most famous drummer and a batch of his super-talented musical pals thrilled a capacity crowd at the legendary Greek Theatre in Los Angeles; this was the final date on his month-long U.S. tour that began back on Sept. 1 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ringo Starr behind the kit of his Ludwig at the Greek Theatre.

For two magical hours, there was plenty of peace, love and classic rock offered up by Ringo Starr along with guitarist-singer Steve Lukather (Toto), keyboardist-singer Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey), guitarist-singer Colin Hay (Men At Work) and bassist-singer Graham Gouldman (10cc). Top-notch players Warren Ham (on percussion, sax, and backing vocals) and Gregg Bissonette (drums) added deft firepower everywhere.

To thunderous cheers, Starr came on stage at 8:15 p.m. and positioned himself at the front of the stage where the band launched into "Matchbox," a 1964 hit for the Beatles. The infectious spirit of the rockabilly-styled favorite (recorded by Carl Perkins in 1956) set the tone for what would ultimately prove to be a fun night. "I love the Greek," Starr noted after the song was finished. "And it's always better when it's full." 
Colin Hay and Ringo Starr on Sept. 29.

Starr then performed one of his best-known and enduring cuts, "It Don't Come Easy," a shimmering track he co-wrote with George Harrison and his first post-Fab Four hit (released in 1971). The vocal harmonies provided by his All Star Band mates were marvelous.

Starr's comical asides and light-hearted personality have been a constant since his Beatles days and it was fully on display this night via an introduction to a musical reading of the Beatles' country-flavored track "What Goes On," first recorded in late 1965. "There is one song credited to Lennon, McCartney and Starkey; I know it's in the wrong order, what can you do?" The performance of that classic benefitted from Starr's strong vocals and a sweet guitar solo from Lukather.  

The great thing about this night was the opportunity to not only hear Starr performing many of his most beloved Beatles-era tracks and subsequent solo hits, but to hear iconic numbers from the members of his winning band. Highlights came often, and the line-up of players were able to effortlessly move about a number of genres including reggae (1978's 10cc track "Dreadlock Holiday" sung by Gouldman), Latin rock (Santana's hits "Evil Ways," "Black Magic Woman," "One Como Va", all sung by Rolie), classic rock (Toto's "Hold the Line," "Africa" and "Rosanna" courtesy of guitar great Lukather) and artful modern rock (a trio of wonderful Men At Work hits sung by Hay).

There was a palpable admiration by the musicians for not only Starr but for each other that enhanced the performance across the fast-moving concert. 

"It's such a great honor to be in this band," Lukather said early in the night before a performance of "Rosanna." That performance featured Lukather's solid vocals and signature guitar work, as well as soaring saxophone playing from Ham and wonderful work on the Hammond B-3 from Rolie. That infectious jam ended with Lukather's guitar playing again featured.
Colin Hay playing harmonica during
"Don't Pass Me By" at the Greek.

Hay proved to be a fantastic addition to the 2018 line-up of the All Star Band, as evidenced by his lead role in the performance of "Down Under," "Overkill" and "Who Can It Be Now?" as well as the nuanced backing vocals, sublime guitar work (notably on the Beatles classics "Boys" and "I Wanna Be Your Man") and harmonica playing (on the Beatles' "Don't Pass Me By") during the show.

Starr's well-known campaign to bring a heavy dose of peace and love to the planet was celebrated with his infectious and aptly-titled "Anthem," whose positive message received a musical boost from the band's in-the-pocket chops.

Other highlights from the show (an argument can be made the entire event was a highlight!) included a sweeping and inspired take on the 1983 classic "Africa," a gorgeous "The Things We Do for Love" (a hit for 10cc in 1976), a rollicking run through the countrified Buck Owens hit "Act Naturally" and wistful take on Starr's 1973 hit "Photograph" (the latter bolstered by Lukather's playing on a 12-string acoustic guitar).

Starr's already-illustrious band took on additional star power for the final song, a rousing version of "With a Little Help From My Friends" where ace studio drummer Jim Keltner (who has recorded drums on classic John Lennon, Harrison and Starr albums) got behind the kit while Joe Walsh, Gary Wright and Edgar Winter came on stage to add group vocals. As Starr exited the stage, the band segued into Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" capping a truly remarkable concert.

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band Setlist at the Greek Theatre

1. Matchbox (Carl Perkins / The Beatles)

2. It's Don't Come Easy (Ringo Starr original)

3. What Goes On (The Beatles)

4. Dreadlock Holiday (10cc)

5. Evil Ways (Santana)

6. Rosanna (Toto)

7. Down Under (Men At Work)

8. Boys (The Beatles)

9. Don't Pass Me By (The Beatles)

10. Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

11. I'm Not In Love (10cc)

Guitarist Steve Lukather with keyboardist
Gregg Rolie at the Greek Theatre on Sept. 29, 2018.
12. Black Magic Woman (Santana)

13. You're Sixteen (Johnny Burnette cover)

14. Anthem (Ringo Starr original)

15. Overkill (Men At Work)

16. Africa (Toto)

17. Oye como va (Santana)

18. I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles)

19. The Things We Do For Love (10cc)

20. Who Can It Be Now? (Men At Work)

21. Hold the Line (Toto)

22. Photograph (Ringo Starr original)

23. Act Naturally (Buck Owens cover)

24. With a Little Help From My Friends (The Beatles)

25. Give Peace a Chance (John Lennon)

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