On the heels of a relatively prolific streak that found Ringo Starr turning in three studio albums within a four year period, the Beatles drummer turned solo singer fired up his latest incarnation of the All Starr Band to debut the new and dust off the old. As is usually the case, he brought a mixed bag of pals to the party, which included Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey), Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and Steve Lukather (Toto) taking turns backing the boss and cranking up their jukebox of hits.
…it was his signature song “With A Little Help From My Friends” that truly brought down the house, while aptly illustrating what the artistic portion of the evening was all about.
Regardless of who was in the line-up, the Fab Four’s friendly beat keeper had no trouble selling out The Venue at Horseshoe Casino for the second time, and after two hours of non-stop performances, gave fans plenty of bang for their buck. For Beatles aficionados, that meant everything from mop-topped memories like “Boys” and “I Wanna Be Your Man” through the more psychedelic-minded “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Yellow Submarine.” From his solo mine, “It Don’t Come Easy” and “I’m The Greatest” served as easygoing sing-a-longs, while the revamped rocker “Wings” and the chugging “Anthem” (both from the unoriginally titled “2012”) exuded carefree charm.
As for the All Starrs, Rundgren kicked off the proceedings with the sophisticated psychedelic ballad “I Saw The Light,” and later, Utopia’s “Love Is The Answer,” though “Bang The Drum All Day” was cringe-worthy and should’ve been swapped for the skipped “Hello It’s Me.” Despite singing lead for both Santana and Journey (plus its off shoot act The Storm), Gregg Rolie inexplicably ignored the latter act’s material, though at least he sounded spot on recreating fiery Latin jams like “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman” and “Everybody’s Everything.”
While Richard Page’s limelight was confined to Mr. Mister’s limited ‘80s window, renditions of “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings” never sounded sweeter, while his stylish songwriting chops and flawless vocals also showed up on the new acoustic tune “You Are Mine.” Lukather’s Toto tunes “Rosanna” and “Africa” had their dated moments, though at least those tunes and the sharper “Hold The Line” rocked a lot harder thanks to backing from the lengthy personnel list (which also included auxiliary sax man Mark Rivera and drummer Gregg Bissonette).
After keeping beat for the All Starrs, Ringo returned to center spotlight once again for favorites like “Photograph” and the quirky Buck Owens’ cover “Act Naturally.” Yet it was his signature song “With A Little Help From My Friends” that truly brought down the house, while aptly illustrating what the artistic portion of the evening was all about. But there was also a message to go along with the tunes, which Starr summarized with a flash of peace signs to reinforce the concept that foursome from Liverpool always promoted just as much as the music.