Review by Wayne Williams
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Additional photograph by Stanley Johnson
It makes some kind of odd sense that “Oye Como Va” would be the best song of the night at a Ringo Starr concert. After all, what says Ringo more than a deep Latin groove, Spanish lyrics and an undeniable guitar lick.
Since kicking off his parade of motley All-Starr bands, Mr. Richard Starkey has made it abundantly clear that the group’s shows are not just about him. It’s smart marketing, given his limited vocal range and limited catalog, but it’s also brave and generous.
On one hand, it would be easy to dismiss Tuesday’s show at Albany’s Palace Theatre as a visit to the assisted living center of rock and roll, but the evening did have its moments.
“Oye Como Va,” for example, burned. Carlos was down the street a few weeks ago, but Steve Lukather covered the guitar chair admirably in his stead. God knows he didn’t shine vocally, his once winsome lilt lost to time. All of his Toto showcases — “Rosanna,” “Africa” and “Hold The Line” — were stripped of their young man charm, and burdened, too, with epic, pointless jams.
Gregg Rolie, singing “Oye Como Va,” sounded like yesterday. He offered no flash. He showed up. He did his thing. And it worked. As ever.
Richard Page. Now there’s a conundrum. Who wanted to hear that Mr. Mister crap in the ’80s? Jeezus. Now, though. Now it sounds beautiful. “Broken Wings.” Sing it again, Rick.
The dudes in the frontline all had their moments in the sun. Saxman Warren Ham and drummer to the stars Gregg Bissonette were sideguys. But Ringo was, too, sometimes sitting in the skins and other times just sitting out.
Todd. Yes, he was Todd. Mr. Rundgren to you. “I Saw The Light,” the damn song about drumming and “Love is the Answer.” Ringo, that “Anthem” thing, shut it. Todd beat you to it 37 years ago, and “Love is the Answer” still crushes, particularly when Todd presses the Philadelphia whoo-hoo-hoo button as hard as he did at the Palace. Shut it, Ringo.
But wait, it was Ringo’s show. He was in the Beatles, right?
(Beatles? Stones? Well, yeah, Stones all the way…)
I’ll play the aging hipster card. It was very cool to hear “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph” live for the first time since August 4, 1989. But if I never hear/see the ringed one bouncing around like Ozzy, Jr. singing Carl Perkins again, it will be a long, happy life.
ADDENDA (RANDOM OBSERVATIONS):
Whoo-hoo-hoo. Rundgren can come to our place and sit in the corner like a house elf going whoo-hoo-hoo as long as he freakin’ wants. I will never hand him a sock.
Lukather passing the Bobby Kimball high part of the verse melody of “Rosanna” to Ham — Blotto, with Sarge giving the money shot to Lee Harvey on “Lighting Strikes.” Are you with me?
Todd playing the cabasa on “Broken Wings.” Cool as shit. He’s a producer. “This will sound good. I will sublimate my ego and do it.”
Warren Ham was a member of the group Bloodrock. But he joined after “D.O.A.” was recorded. Every morning when he wakes, he has a cup of coffee and a good cry over this fact.
Forget playing with Ringo. What a trip for everybody onstage. Richard Page: “I’m playing bass in Santana, what the huh?” Gregg Rolie: “Todd, don’t forget, Journey was prog before Utopia was out of its diapers.” Todd: “Whoo-hoo-hoo.”
“With a Little Help From My Friends.” I pose like I’m not a Beatles fan, but Christ, Lennon and McCartney could write a song. You, on your very best day, couldn’t even come close to this. If you think you could, it’s time to put down the crack pipe.
And, lastly, Ringo as a drummer. Genius? Crap? Discuss.
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
RINGO STARR & HIS ALL-STARR BAND SET LIST
Matchbox (Carl Perkins)
It Don’t Come Easy
I Saw the Light (Todd Rundgren)
Evil Ways (Willie Bobo)
Kyrie (Mr. Mister)
Bang the Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren)
Boys (the Shirelles)
Don’t Pass Me By (the Beatles)
Yellow Submarine (the Beatles)
Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac) > Gypsy Queen (Gabor Szabo)
Honey Don’t (Carl Perkins)
You Are Mine (new Richard Page song)
Oye Como Va (Tito Puente)
Love Is the Answer (Utopia)
I Wanna Be Your Man (the Beatles)
Broken Wings (Mr. Mister)
Hold the Line (Toto)
Act Naturally (Buck Owens)
With a Little Help From My Friends (the Beatles) > Give Peace a Chance (Plastic Ono Band)