Review by Charlie Weintraub
Ringo Starr. He’s a Beatle. Enough said. The preceding few words could suffice as an entire review. After all, he is a Beatle. And that is why people came.
Just as baseball has its summer classic, the All Star Game, the world of music has a summer classic of its own, and it was on fire this night.
Ringo Starr put together the 13th edition of his All Starr Band, which this year included: Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey), Steve Lukather (Toto), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), with Mark Rivera on the sax and a few other instruments and Gregg Bissonette – the better drummer on this night. This stop on his 2012 tour was at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on the very sacred, hallowed grounds of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
An older, near sell-out crowd came to see Ringo, and they were not disappointed. Looking fit and trim, he had an amazing amount of energy for a man approaching his 72nd birthday. I don’t care what “work” he has had done, he has aged better than some of his contemporaries such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards or Steven Tyler. His voice is the same as ever, but you don’t come to enjoy the tonal qualities of his voice. You come to remember the songs; you come because he’s a Beatle.
He started out front and center with the Carl Perkins’ classic “Matchbox” followed by his own “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Wings.” He then took his familiar spot behind the other set of drums and turned the stage over to his All Starr Band. They did NOT disappoint. It was an evening of mega-hits with the other stars taking turns. Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me” followed by Rolie recreating a song he played 43 years earlier on these same hallowed grounds – Santana’s “Evil Ways.” Lukather rocked it hard with “Rosanna,” and Page offered Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie.” Rundgren scored again with “Bang the Drum All Day,” which really had the crowd romping along with him.
Ringo, alternating between drums and front man, kept adding in Beatle hits and some of his solo hits along with a lot of chit-chat with the audience – which they ate up. He didn’t introduce one of his biggest songs, instead he said, “I’m not going to tell you the name of the next song. If you don’t know it — you’re in the wrong place.” He joyfully played with a toy yellow submarine that one fan tossed up to him. He introduced another of his songs with the best line of the night, “I first performed this song with that other group I was in before … Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.”
Two more go-rounds with the band produced many more hits for this evening with each member of the band paying homage to the real “starr” of the evening. As a band, they played together like a finely tuned engine; individually, they each proved they belonged in this fine ensemble.
The last complete song of the evening Ringo introduced by saying, “If you don’t know the words to this one, there’s no hope for any of us.” He then broke into “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Everyone knew the words.
The show ended with the seven performers leading nearly 10,000 adoring fans in the chorus from John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” A great ending to a great show.
Woodstock was all about peace and love. Ringo is about peace and love. And the crowd gave that love back to him.
RINGO STARR & HIS ALL STARR BAND SET LIST
It Don’t Come Easy
Hello It’s Me (Todd Rundgren)
Evil Ways (Gregg Rolie)
Rosanna (Steve Lukather)
Kyrie (Richard Page)
Don’t Pass Me By
Bang the Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren)
Black Magic Woman (Gregg Rolie)
You Are Mine (Richard Page)
I’m the Greatest
Africa (Steve Lukather)
I Wanna Be Your Man
Everybody’s Everything (Gregg Rolie)
I Saw the Light (Todd Rundgren)
Broken Wings (Richard Page)
Hold the Line (Steve Lukather)
With a Little Help from My Friends
Give Peace A Chance