"My father (Dale Toon) actually purchased one of Ringo’s paintings which came with a meet and greet. Meeting Ringo was definitely one of the biggest thrills of my life. I discovered the Beatles about 10 years ago when I first started playing the guitar. With a lot of their earlier stuff being pretty basic chords, it was the perfect fit for me. From there it led to watching old footage and reading books. I was blown away by their popularity and the amount of success they had achieved in such a short time.”

“As a young boy I remember my father always talking about the Beatles and how he was a huge John fan. I just never realized how big they were until years later. In saying all that, to meet one of the “Fab Four” was quite the thrill. With the hustle and bustle of life, my father and I were in need of some quality father/son time. What better way to achieve that than by taking a road trip to meet Ringo!”

Danny Toon’s account of meeting the Hall of Famer, recently knighted, former Rory Storm and the Hurricanes/Beatles drummer, speaks volumes about those present on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Pavilion. Few stars, other than “that” Starr, can boast a following which consistently spans generations. Just seats away, another father and son team sat — this trio included twelve and thirteen-year old brothers who remained surprisingly wide-eyed during the two-hour peace and love fest, which may have severely conflicted with their bedtime.

The concert began promptly at eight, and just as in the previous twelve All-Star Band concerts, Ringo graciously shared the stage with talented cohorts. This year’s lineup consisted of vocalist/guitarist Steve Lukather (Toto), vocalist/keyboard player Greg Rolie (Journey/Santana), singer-songwriter Colin Hay (Men at Work) and the newest singer-songwriter on the All-Starr block, Graham Gouldman (10cc). In addition, Warren Ham (Kansas/AD), a gifted multi-instrumentalist, wielded tasty call and response on sax and flute when not harmonising or ticking off counter rhythms on a snare. Meanwhile back on the risers sat Ringo and Greg Bissonette. Watching the two drummers animatedly trade off, solo or play in synch on their respective kits was an extraordinary highlight.

This forum, too, facilitated a cask of compositional diversity. Fans rose from their seats to celebrate Santana chestnuts ‘Black Magic Woman,’ ‘Oye Como Va’ and ‘Evil Ways,’ which feature Rolie’s Latin intros and textured fills, but it also allowed for them to savour Gouldman’s dreamy ‘I’m Not in Love’ back in their seats, where they could enjoy the psychedelic light show.

‘The Things We Do for Love’ and the reggae-influenced ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ revealed the other side of Gouldman’s craftsmanship and bent towards pop and lyrical levity. Gouldman also revealed, “‘Dreadlock Holiday’ was a hit all over the world except here in America.” It was especially delightful to watch the two percussionists on the risers float reggae rhythms over skins during the lively refrain, “I don’t like it/I love it.”

Lukather alerted the fans that ‘Africa’ is being courted by Weezer. The slow build to the chorus is always a kick. Then he played a haunting, bluesy solo of his own. ‘Rosanna’ got everyone up to their feet for the duration — the jungle drums swelled under the vocalist’s sonorous voice.

Hay’s contributions including the steamy ‘Down Under’, embellished by soprano flute and topped off by perfect diction. He led the audience into a fever-pitched call and response, as the drummers punched out fills. When performing the mega-hit ‘Who Can It Be Now’, he was in excellent voice and even managed to sneak in a few comical quips.

But tying it all together was the master of ceremonies himself, Sir Ringo Starr. When downstage, his contagious chuckle and anticipated (but appreciated) asides generated an immediate bond among all present. And fortunately, despite his iconic status and the fact that he has more than earned his “stripes” (and even had a few on his trousers), Ringo Starr has retained that rare ability to relate to people of all ages and to not take celebrityhood all that seriously, so that when he flashes that earnest peace sign his fans reciprocate with passion and faith, rather than skepticism.

Historians were brought into the fold when he sang Buck Owens’ ‘Act Naturally’ and even earlier, when opening with the double-timey Carl Perkins-penned ‘Matchbox’.
“We do this night after night and it don’t come easy,” Ringo joked, before engaging in the Americana charm of the follow-up. The sax coloured the spaces between the catchy verses.

My personal early favourites are Ringo’s rendition of ‘Boys,’ complete with
“bop-shu-wops”. It’s a blast watching him keep up the 50s-style beat at the kit, while leaning into the mic for the lively vocals. On this tour, purple and white revolving stars appeared on the screen. “I Wanna Be Your Man” runs a close second. Wow.

‘Don’t Pass Me By’ never loses its charm and has become an All-Starr staple.

In between the numbers, Ringo slyly snuck in the fact that he co-wrote ‘What Goes On’; a fait accompli, considering the iron-clad, songwriting partnership of Lennon-McCartney. “I know, like me, you’d like the credits to go the other way,” Ringo deadpanned.

Further down the line, Ringo innocently flirted with the first couple of rows before singing, ‘You’re Sixteen’. “What’s my name?” he yelled. “Ringo!” the fans responded. “Because I’m an only child,” he grinned. Then the band revved up for ‘Photograph’. Both ballads reached #1 during his still-industrious solo career. The former, written by the Sherman Brothers, was recorded by Johnny Burnette in the 1960s and revived in the 1970s when the film American Graffiti got released.

“If you don’t know this song, you’re in the wrong venue,” Ringo kidded. That was the cue for the infamous ‘Yellow Submarine,’ which got the kids and the adults equally excited. The players added a few vocal effects on the mic and everyone joined in.
“Don’t worry, you’ve only got two more hours to go,” Ringo quipped.

It’s not an All-Starr concert without the time-honoured ‘A Little Help from my Friends’. The late John Lennon’s unifying ‘Give Peace a Chance’ elicited an arena full of peace signs too. 2012’s ‘Anthem,’ perhaps lesser-known to some of the original fans, similarly aroused feelings of solidarity.

Given the round-robin, changing-of-the guards format, the pacing of the concert was not consistently fluid, but in general, Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band’s combined forces delivered an evocative night of sheer fun. After two solid hours, patrons left the pavilion looking appreciative and satisfied, despite the omission of a formal encore.

At 78, the physically fit and exuberant Ringo Starr certainly doesn’t look his age and, hopefully, will never act or show it. All he’s got to do is “act naturally” and fans will, undoubtedly, come back for more. As fan Danny Toon implied, “taking a road trip to meet Ringo” is a surefire way to create quality time, and on this auspicious Saturday night, even those who didn’t get to go backstage, might concur.


Photographs by Philamonjaro
www.philamonjaro.com


















Related Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringo_Starr
http://www.RingoPhotoBook.com
http://www.ringostarr.com/
http://www.ringotour.com/
https://twitter.com/ringostarrmusic
https://www.facebook.com/ringostarrmusic


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