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With a lot of help from his friends


Review – Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band at the Hard Rock Casino, Vancouver, July 15, 2014

– review by Michael Herle

“If you don’t know this one, you’re in the wrong venue. You’re waiting for Led Zeppelin… is that Robert Plant?” joked Ringo Starr as he pointed to no one in particular.

Then, after Todd Rundgren mockingly played the beginning of “Stairway to Heaven”, the All-Starr Band launched into “Yellow Submarine” and the sold-out crowd was on its feet.

This was halfway through a generous two-hour, twenty-five song set as energetic as it was varied. Starr, who’s nothing if not self-deprecating, relied on a lot of help from his friends to make an entertaining revue-style show. Less than half the songs were by The Beatles or from Starr’s solo career. The rest featured the All-Starr Band: guitarist Steve Lukather (Toto), drummer Gregg Bissonette (Joe Satriani), vocalist and keyboardist Gregg Rolie (Santana), bassist-vocalist Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Warren Ham on sax and keyboards, and Rundgren on, well, everything but sax.

Starr’s friends were clearly having almost too much fun, whether playing Toto hits like “Rosanna” or “Hold the Line” (Lukather’s guitar solos were insanely good) or Santana classics like “Evil Ways” or “Black Magic Woman”. Rundgren described the tour as “the longest continuous act of musical lovemaking”. When he ripped into “I Saw the Light” and the Utopia hit “Love is the Answer” Bissonette was making joyful, playful faces at him, and Ringo, who drummed for most of the show, was beaming as much as he was drumming. Their affection, energy and enthusiasm were unbridled.

It may seem churlish to attack what was billed as the “Peace and Love” tour. One criticism of the show, however (aside from the outrageous lack of range in ticket prices – from $150 to $165) would have to be the way one song veered into the next.  How to account for The Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man” followed by Mr. Mister’s all-but-forgotten “Broken Wings”? What would hold it together?  

Starr’s wit – that’s what. Before playing “I Wanna Be Your Man”, he asked, “Are there any ladies in the house?” He asked again after receiving a half-hearted response, then exclaimed “Don’t start getting Canadian on me!” For all the All-Starr Band’s energy and enthusiasm, the largely grey-haired audience remained seated  for most songs after “Yellow Submarine” – at least until “Photograph”. For that 1973 hit, co-written by Starr and George Harrison, people ran down the aisles to surround the stage. Starr beamed more brightly than ever. By the time the band played “Give Peace a Chance”, he had run off stage, throwing his impossibly shiny silver jacket to the crowd, before being draped James Brown-style in a black cape as he was whisked away. The transformed crowd chanted “Ringo!” as the All-Starrs took their bows, slapped hands and the lights dimmed.

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