Ringo Starr & the All-Starr Band

So last night my husband used a birthday present and dragged me out, kicking and screaming, to a small local music theater on Long Island to see Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band.

Where we proceeded to have a great time.

The 2010 version of the band consists of Ringo, Wally Palmer of the Romantics, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Richard Page and Gregg Bissonette, and if you are inclined to think it a pathetic gathering of middle-aged (and um, older) washed-up has-beens making a last grab for glory and adulation on their way to the graveyard, you’d be selling them short. I know I was. I mean, they may be that. But they’re still good musicians.

In fact, the band is a really smart idea; why not put together a band of musicians who love to play but on their own could never fill a hall, any longer? With each band member performing several of his biggest hits, the whole night is like a greatest hits album played live with a minimum of fuss or ego.

Rick Derringer started the night off with Hang On, Sloopy, and it turned out these older rockers were all in splendid voice, managing crystal-clear, tight harmonies. Derringer and Palmer were particularly revved up, lively and in great form.

Ringo sang, too, doing particularly well with It Don’t Come Easy, which the fit-looking 70 year-old bopped to with youthful energy.

As a singer, I have always thought of Ringo as an under-appreciated drummer. He is looked down upon for his technical skills–and no, he never was a Keith Moon or a Ginger Baker–but he suited the Fab Four perfectly. In fact, rather like U2’s The Edge, Ringo Starr knew how to make his limitations work beautifully for the band, perfectly fitting his small flourishes and percussions to their not-especially complicated music. All of the Beatles were “capable,” musicians, but none of them were virtuosos on the level of a Clapton, a Page or an Allman.

Edgar Winter was all over the stage, on saxophone and keyboards and Frankenstein was a pretty impressive highlight of the show, with all the musicians doing the old classic up proud. Richard Page’s vocals on Kyrie Elision and Broken Wing sounded as youthful and pristine as they were 30 years ago.

If you get a chance to see the band, go. It’s not a “spectacular” but it’s a really fun night, with a lot of singing along, and it’s the very truth that the audience ran the gamut, from grandparents, to thirteen year olds; the show ends with A Little Help from My Friends, and as an old Lennon-McCartney song goes, a splendid time is guaranteed for all, even without Mr. Kite.

My two favorite songs of the night:

Instalanche! and thanks for the link, Glenn!


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