Last summer I was lucky enough to see one of my favorite musicians of all time live in concert...he also happened to be a former member of my favorite band and the best band in the history of rock music. Yes, it was Paul McCartney, formerly of the Beatles! This past Monday, I was lucky enough to see another Beatle in concert when I saw Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band live in Providence, Rhode Island at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC). As a venue, the PPAC was gorgeous, in the heart of downtown Providence and just a beautiful, ornate, old-fashioned art-deco styled theatre. The environs of the PPAC were warm and welcoming and the sound was great, which is a good thing because it was a night of fun music played by a tight and excellent band of musicians!
For those who don't know, Ringo has been touring with his All-Starr Band for over twenty years. It's a collection of musicians who are famous in their own right and the nice thing is that, in addition to backing Ringo in singing his Beatles and solo songs, they also each play a few songs from their previous bands, so there's a nice mix of music throughout the evening. The membership is always shifting...in years past, such luminaries as Peter Frampton, Jack Bruce, John Entwistle, and many others have been members of Ringo's band. His current band who appeared with him at this show comprised of a fantastic collection of musicians; the line-up was Ringo (vocals and drums), Gregg Bissonnette, session drummer extraordinaire (drums, backing vocals), Warren Ham (saxophones, vocals), Gregg Rollie, founding member of Santana and Journey (piano, Hammond organ, vocals), Steve Lukather, former founder of Toto and master session guitarist (lead guitar, vocals), Richard Page, former bassist and vocalist from Mr. Mister (bass guitar, vocals) and Todd Rundgren, singer/songwriter/producer (rhythm guitar, vocals).
The set list they played is below:
It Don't Come Easy
I Saw the Light
Bang the Drum All Day
Don't Pass Me By
Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
You Are Mine
Oye Como Va
Love is the Answer
I Wanna Be Your Man
Hold the Line
With a Little Help From My Friends
Give Peace a Chance
There were many highlights of the show. First off the bat, as with Paul, Ringo seems ageless. He's very active and engaging on stage, dancing and singing and jumping around...I had to remind myself and my mum (who I went to the show with) that he'll be 74 next month! He also spent half of the show playing drums and providing the legendary rocksteady backbeat (along Bissonnette's incredible lead drumming) that he's known for, and I have to say that I did spend a lot of the time just watching Ringo play the drums. Not only was it great to see his technique and style in person, but as with Paul last summer, I was watching a Beatle playing right in front of my eyes! And it was more than cool to see Ringo do his trademark head bop from side to side as he played...add longer hair and it's like watching him play with the Beatles in concert during the 1960s.
As for the set, the Beatles songs of course got the biggest cheers, with Ringo making several funny jokes about them. Before "Boys," he said "here's one we used to play in the band I used to be in..." *massive cheer from the crowd* "That's right...Rory Storm and the Hurricanes!" He also mentioned before one song that "if you don't know the words to this one, you must be at the wrong show...perhaps you're waiting for Sly and the Family Stone?" Then they started playing "Yellow Submarine." He told his band that there was no need to reveal the name of another song, which ended up being "With a Little Help From My Friends." Over the entire show, Ringo was in a funny mood, interacting with the crowd, even joking when he played a couple of his recent solo songs that he wanted to thank the people in the audience who bought his last album..."both of you!" He also mentioned after "Don't Pass Me By" (where he even played the intro on keyboard!) that after he'd written it, "I thought to myself, look out, Lennon and McCartney."
In addition to Ringo's songs, the songs by his bandmates were great, with several of them ending in long jams (including all three of Rollie's Santana songs, which brought the house down). Even the songs from bands I'm not a fan of, like Toto and Mr. Mister, were really fun because they are songs I still knew the words to from hearing them on the radio countless times as a kid, and it was just a blast to hear them at the show and sing along with the rest of the crowd. What was also interesting was that, for the songs sung by other band members, Ringo just sat at his kit and played drums or percussion and seemed to really enjoy being just another member of the band, which I thought was really cool. And that is the theme of the entire experience of seeing Ringo and his All-Starr Band in concert...it's just a ton of fun! Ringo will never be confused for Paul or anyone else when it comes to songwriting or having an acclaimed back catalog, and he knows that. But what he does do is present a show with a top-notch band, playing songs that just about everyone in the crowd will know and offering a solid two hours of non-stop musical enjoyment.
Speaking of his band, I can't stress enough how tight and good they were...they have chops to spare and it was obvious not only from listening to their playing but from watching them that they were having an absolute blast onstage, which was infectious and was given right back to them by the crowd. Several times during the concert, they mentioned how they've become a band of brothers and how much they enjoy each others company. I'd knew everyone in the band before the concert except for Warren Ham, and he is absolutely on the same level as the rest of the guys. He sang fantastic lead and backing vocals and brought the house down with several incendiary tenor and soprano saxophone solos. The crowd itself was made up of a range of ages, from twelve year old kids all the way up to seventy year old grandparents, yet everyone sang along to the songs and clapped and danced and had a great time. I went to this show with my mum, just like last summer's Paul show, and just like that concert, it was great to be able to share the experience with her not only because she's my mother and I love her, but because it's because of her and my dad that I'm a musician and obsessive music (and Beatles) fan myself. One thing that struck me is when Steve Lukather mentioned between songs how he was honored that he now gets to play with one of the guys who is the reason he is a musician; for me, seeing Paul and now Ringo in concert is the same thrill...it's because of them (and my parents) that I have the relationship with music that I do. Seeing Ringo completed the circle started by seeing Paul last summer, and for any Beatles fan I would highly recommend it...it's an experience you will enjoy immensely, and I know that if given the opportunity, like Paul McCartney, I'd go see Ringo Starr again in a heartbeat.
(All of the photos in this post were taken by me, I took more, but these are the best ones. I hope you enjoy them!)
|The stage set up before the concert|
|Ringo and the All-Starr Band take the stage and start the show!|
|Todd Rundgren takes a turn leading the band|
|Gregg Rollie leads the band in one of three excellent Santana songs|
|Richard Page leads the band through one of his songs from Mr. Mister|
|Ringo drumming and singing...legendary|
|Ringo kicks off "Don't Pass Me By"|
|Steve Lukather leads the band in a Toto song and played incredible guitar throughout the show|
|Give Peace a Chance!|