Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
July 10, 2010 at Chastain Park Amphitheater
By Jon Waterhouse
For the AJC
Having a Beatles pedigree allows bombastic, self-indulgent live performance and rightfully so. Yet Fab Four skin man Ringo Starr opts to share the spotlight with fellow hit makers spreading the musical love unselfishly across the stage and into the audience. With the eleventh version of his All Starr Band in tow, Starr kept the theme in tact Saturday night at Chastain Park Amphitheater.
The affection was apparent even before Starr took the stage. Merchandise, including T-shirts and necklaces, rocked peace symbols, which proved to be more than just a marketing aesthetic. Starr stepped in front of the Chastain crowd, a two-finger peace sign in each hand, and continued repeating the peace and love mantra throughout the night. While some children of the ’60s may have forgotten the mindset, a spry and unbelievably youthful 70-year-old Starr seemed as optimistic as he did back in the Summer of Love.
The strains of Starr’s 1971 solo success “It Don’t Come Easy” began the hit laden night with Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Rick Derringer, Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and Wally Palmar (The Romantics) comprising the All Starrs, a line-up that’s been rotating with Starr’s friends and colleagues since 1989. With Starr often out front, drummer Gregg Bissonette (Santana, David Lee Roth) more-than admirably held the beat.
Like all All Starr tours, the band members each took turns performing their own recognizable tunes with Starr breaking things up periodically by playing a string of catalog cuts.
Ace guitarist Rick Derringer was the first All Starr out of the gate with “Hang On Sloopy,” the oldie-but-goldie he recorded with The McCoys in 1965. Before launching into an extended version featuring its rarely-heard third verse, Derringer coyly reminded the audience the song sat at number one above The Beatles, if only for a week.
And the All Starr highlights kept coming. The lanky, ivory-haired Edgar Winter could’ve passed for a member of “The Muppet Show” house band with his loosey-goosey, animated gate. Winter nailed the high notes of “Free Ride” and showcased his multi-instrumental skills of keyboards, sax and percussion on the show-stopping instrumental “Frankenstein.”
Wally Palmar led one of the bigger sing-a-longs of the evening with “What I Like About You.” Richard Page kept fans in the ’80s with “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings.” And Gary Wright, no stranger to collaborating with Starr, revealed the spiritual insight of “Dream Weaver,” the inspiration he said came from a book given to him by George Harrison.
Of course the biggest reaction came when Starr took front and center. He first hit Beatles territory with “I Wanna Be Your Man” and flashbacked throughout the show with other early Fab tracks including “Boys,” “Act Naturally” and “Honey Don’t.” Much of the crowd, many donning Beatles garb, took to its feet during a rousing “Yellow Submarine.” Among them was a woman wearing a “Sgt. Pepper” jacket and a daisy in her hair.
Although it’s a welcome sight to see Starr in the frontman spot, he looked most at home behind his own drum kit. The trademark fills and Beatles-esque head bobs were mesmerizing pinch-yourself reminders.
The two-hour show wrapped with a boisterous “With a Little Help From My Friends.” It segued into the chorus of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance,” cementing Starr’s overall vibe of the evening.
While some might see the hippie dippy peace-and-love attitude as a failed, passe pipe dream of the ’60s, Starr’s unselfish live show proves it’s as alive, well and relevant as we allow it to be.