Published on October 17th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Review: Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band at the PAC
Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
Ringo Starr’s a cheerful chap and a laid-back bandleader. A pretty full house greeted the former Beatles drummer (a.k.a. Richard Starkey) and the current lineup of his All Starr Band at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night, singing along and applauding from tune to tune.
The current lineup of the All Starr Band features guitarist/singer Steve Lukather of Toto, keyboardist/singer Gregg Rolie of Journey and Santana, bassist/singer Richard Page of Mr. Mister, guitarist/singer/percussionist Todd Rundgren of Utopia, keyboardist/percussionist/sax player Warren Ham of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and drummer Gregg Bissonette of the Maynard Ferguson Band, the David Lee Roth Band, and various fusion/rock projects.
With solid, well polished backing from his band, a very nimble Starr kicked off the show as lead singer, bouncing at the stage-front through versions of Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” his classic solo hit “It Don’t Come Easy,” and recent solo song titled “Wings.” From there, he spent the rest of the set hopping behind his red-sparkle Ludwig drum kit to keep time alongside Bissonette and jogging back to the main mic as lead vocalist.
As any rock fan knows, Starr, 74, tastefully drummed (and sang a bit) with the Beatles alongside John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison between 1962 to 1970. Since the band’s breakup, Starr has collaborated with various musicians and written and recorded an armful of solo albums over the last 45 years.
The long-running All Starr Band project first came together in 1989 with an ever-changing rotation of well-established rock and pop musicians and vocalists. The project took shape as an inclusive classic rock showcase, in which every featured player got a chance to shine during each show. Wednesday’s performance certainly highlighted the hits of Toto, Santana, Mr. Mister, and Todd Rundgren as much as any Ringo-related Beatles song or solo standard.
At times, the configuration and performances on stage seemed strange. The band was extremely professional and proficient — resembling the top-notch versatility of Paul Shaffer’s killer band on Late Show with David Letterman. But it felt weird to see Starr tapping along with his Beatles-era swing beats to such bombastic classic rock faves as Santana’s “Evil Ways” and “Oye Como Va,” Toto’s “Rosanna” and “Africa,” or Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie.” I’m not sure some fans in attendance expected such an odd variety.
There were several goofball moments, too. Dressed in green, Rundgren hammed it up during a rendition of “Bang the Drum All Day.” Page’s voice shined on his new acoustic guitar-based composition titled “You Are Mine,” which sounded nice and pretty but perhaps felt out of place. Lukather’s extravagant solos were impressive, if occasionally over-the-top (although the fist-pumper “Hold the Line” kicked ass with sax guy Ham hitting the high notes well).
Rolie’s Hammond B3 organ solos on the Santana tunes were beautiful and soulful, and Bissonette stretched out a bit from his stripped-down time-keeping to a fiery drum solo during “Black Magic Woman.”
For an old Beatles/classic Ringo fan like me, the top moments came when the All Starrs delivered the great hits from Starr’s early career — from his strummy pop love song “Photograph,” the fast-tempo “I Want to be Your Man,” the anthemic singalong “Yellow Submarine,” and the raucous set closer “With a Little Help From My Friends” and a quick reworking of the Lennon/Ono anthem “Give Peace a Chance.”
Despite the variety show vibe, I most enjoyed Ringo Starr genuinely enjoying himself as member of the band. He seemed so casual, dry, confident, and unworried, occasionally grinning at his bandmates while quietly handling a light shuffle beat or cymbal tap. Every member was gracious and polite to each other and the crowd throughout the two-hour set.
Starr and his bandmates will continue to tour across North America through the fall. Hopefully, they’ll make it back to the Carolinas with a few extra Ringo-styled rock tunes in the repertoire.
Concert photos by Jessica Mickey.
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