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Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band
RATING (*** out of four)
RAMA, Ont., — Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band finally got back on the road.
After 2 1/2 years of delays due to COVID-19, the 81-year-old Beatles drummer — joined by singer-guitarist Steve Lukather (Toto), multi-instrumentalists-singers Edgar Winter (The Edgar Winter Group) and Warren Ham, singer-guitarist Colin Hay (Men At Work), singer-bassist Hamish Stuart (Average White Band), and drummer Gregg Bissonette — launched the North American start of his latest trek at Casino Rama on Friday night.
After kicking off with Carl Perkins’ Matchbox, Starr segued into his solo classic, It Don’t Come Easy, and The Beatles’ song What Goes On (which he pointed out he co-wrote with Paul McCartney and John Lennon.)
But Starr really hit his stride behind his Ludwig drum kit on Boys before coming back out to the front to lead the crowd in The Beatles’ classic Yellow Submarine.
Winter was the first All-Starr up with the rocker Free Ride and while he was the MVP in terms of number of instruments played like during crowd fave, Frankenstein (during which Starr left the stage for a 15-minute break), it was Hay who proved to be the strongest vocalist on such Men At Work hits as Down Under, Overkill and Who Can It Be Now.
Stuart, meanwhile, brought the funk with Average White Band’s Pick Up The Pieces and Cut The Cake, and The Isley Brothers’ Work To Do.
Starr excelled again during I Wanna Be Your Man, Octopus’ Garden, Photograph and the two-hour show ending With A Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace a Chance, which included him doing a set of jumping jacks.
It was the fifth time the Fab Four timekeeper had launched a tour at the casino after a week of rehearsals, and he explained why at a Thursday press conference at Casino Rama.
“It’s loose,” said Starr of the atmosphere. “For a week we live here, and we just go to the same stage. It’s good being in the same vicinity as where we’re rehearsing.”
During the COVID-19 downtime, of course, Peter Jackson released Get Back: The Beatles, which was a reworking of the 1970 Let It Be documentary that showed a much happier Fab Four working together than the original film.
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Starr was asked at the press conference if the new documentary meant new fans for his shows, which will hit eight more Canadian cities in the fall, including a just-announced Toronto stop at Massey Hall on Sept. 28.
“I’m sure it’ll show some interest, but we all have our core fans, they’ll be coming,” said Starr, who rotates the All-Starr lineup.
“What I’ve noticed with Ringo and the All-Starrs, when we first started (32 years ago), a lot of the audience was sort of my age and over the years it’s sort of gotten younger. The kids are coming in.”
Starr was also asked about The Beatles breakup and if he wanted a few more years with his Liverpool pals.
“We were lads when we started and as it went on we had wives and children, and we stopped touring and made great records,” he said. “And we all played well together, and we got on with each other and that’s just how it was. It came to a point eight years later — that blows me away, we did all that in eight years — it was time to leave.”
And despite his advancing age, he said he’ll never retire.
“I only ever wanted to be a drummer from 13. And it’s still there. I love to play. I’m a musician, I don’t have to retire. As long as I can pick up those sticks, I’ve got a gig.”
FRIDAY NIGHT SET LIST:
It Don’t Come Easy
What Goes On
Pick Up the Pieces
I’m The Greatest
Cut the Cake
Work to Do
I Wanna Be Your Man
Johnny B. Goode
Who Can It Be Now
Hold the Line
With a Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace A Chance