–By Sean Derrick
Former Beatle, and recently knighted (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire), Ringo Starr returned to the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Saint Louis Friday with his All-Starr band for a rousing performance with a multitude of hits.
Not to be confused with so-called supergroups where members of different bands get together to form a new group, often pretending their former groups never existed, Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band highlights each members’ former band to give the audience a wide range of hits.
While Ringo uses his name for the band, he tries not to be the sole focus of the show. In fact, literally half of the show focuses on the other bands. This is a refreshing alternative from the egocentric-driven stars that sometimes highlight these type of endeavors and neglect their bandmates’ contributions. Ringo gives each other vocalist 3 songs from their prior bands catalogue to give the fans a more robust experience.
Started in 1989 This is the 13th incarnation of Ringo’s All-Starr Band and features Colin Hay, guitarist and former lead singer for Men At Work; Gregg Rolie, keyboardist and original lead singer for Journey and Santana; Steve Lukather, guitarist and vocalist for Toto; and Graham Gouldman, bassist and vocalist for 10cc all performing hits from their bands.
Drummer Gregg Bissonnette has been with the tour since 2008 and was solid behind the drums whether pairing with Ringo or by himself when Ringo sang.
Vocalist/keyboardist/saxophonist Warren Ham provided some of the high pitched vocals needed on the Toto songs.
Ringo kicked off the set with an enthusiastic version of Carl Perkins’ classic “Matchbox” (Which he sang on the Beatles’ cover 54 years ago) before performing his solo classic “It Don’t Come Easy”.
After his third song a round robin of hits started with Gouldman performing the 10cc song “Dreadlock Holiday”, followed by Gregg Rolie with Santana’s “Evil Ways” where Lukather showed off his mastery of the axe and brought the crowd to it’s feet. Lukather followed with the Toto classis “Rosanna” before Hay brought the house down with the Men at Work mega hit “Down Under”.
This formula continued a few more times, ending with three songs from Starr (“Photograph”, “Act Naturally” and the Beatles staple “With a Little Help From My Friends”) to close out the show, and the band threw in a verse of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” as an outro, keeping with Starr’s ever present mantra of peace and love. In today’s vitriolic and unsettling world it is too bad more people don’t follow that mantra.
All in all this is version of the All-Starr band is solid to the core. This is the fourth version of the All-Starr band I have witnessed and, I believe, the best of the four.
They were very tight in their delivery and performance. It might help that the majority (Starr, Rolie, Lukather, Bissonette, and Ham) have been playing together since 2012, the longest of any previous core. The addition of Colin Hay (who played previously with Starr in 2003 and 2008) really put them over the top.
It was almost like watching the original bands themselves throwing hit after hit for two straight hours into a crowd that was certainly enjoying the entire set.
Many of the songs delved into extended jam sessions, showcasing the various artists talents, except for Starr that is, which is unfortunate. Because, for all the adulation Starr gets there are always some dufus in the conversation who chimes in, trying to look smart (but failing miserably) by claiming he is a bad drummer. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as Starr is an exceptional drummer who influenced a whole horde of drummers over the last half century, including many of the top drummers today.
He just prefers to not do solos. Hell, he only did one solo with The Beatles (“The End”), but listen to his drumming on “Strawberry Fields Forever” (especially on the extended cut from Anthology 2), “Rain”, “Come Together”, “Paperback Writer”, etc. and just keep in mind that ALL of his Beatles’ tracks were recorded using only a 7-piece kit. That’s it! Remarkable that he could get that rich and varied sound with only a 7-piece kit. He wasn’t/isn’t flashy and knows just how to make the right beats go with the right song.
He has always done more with less on the drums. But on Friday night he utilized a lot of help from a lot of friends to make the night especially memorable for the large crowd at the Fabulous Fox.
Check out the photos from the evening after the setlist.
Ring Starr 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 9Buck Owens cover)
With a Little Help From My Friends (The Beatles cover)
“Give Peace a Chance” (Outro John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band cover)