Concert review: Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band rock Ruth Eckerd Hall

Almost a week after his 70th birthday Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band left the crowd star-struck at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall. The backdrop for the stage was a huge, psychedelic star with star-gazer lilies all over. It was a sold out show hosting a different audience than I’d become accustomed to at Ruth Eckerd. It was chock-full of hippies, Beatles fans, 70’s music alumni, and fans of this year’s line-up of the All Starr Band.

Yes, the “All Starr” is indeed a pun intended. In his eleventh line-up Ringo brought with him Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Wally Palmer, Richard Page, Rick Derringer, and Gregg Bissonette. Ringo was definitely the glue that held it all together but this was an amazing gathering of musicians onstage.

The lights dimmed, the applause started and the All Starrs came out and then introduced the great Ringo Starr, who took the stage with his hands making peace signs and a big smile. Everyone in the crowd got up to give him the standing ovation he deserved. For being 70, Ringo looked great, and seemed to be feeling good and full of energy. The BeatleMania and perhaps the corny-nostalgic part of me fought off a tear while in awe of this music-legend.

They opened with “It Don’t Come Easy.” People were shouting “Happy Birthday” to him and Ringo thanked them joking, “You can always send the gifts to the dressing room.” There were two drum sets on the stage, one for Ringo to periodically play, and one with a drummer constantly keeping beat with the rest of the band. Mostly Ringo rocked out on center stage but three songs into the set, they changed it up, and the crowd loved it.

Ringo introduced Rick Derringer, once the lead singer of the McCoys, who said that his parents had made it to the show and claimed, “They still had the Billboard Chart where the McCoys song was #1 and the Beatles “Yesterday” was #2, although that only lasted a week.” Then they played that old #1 hit, “Hang on Sloopy.” The show had officially taken off.

The chemistry with these guys was amazing and it was great to see this group of musicians brought together to just reminisce, rock out and have fun. Edgar Winter was introduced next and busted out the 70’s classic, “Free Ride” complete with a sweet keyboard solo on a keyboard he had strapped around him so it lay flat on his waist. He claimed he was the first musician to play the keyboard in this fashion so he could move around the stage, and not be stuck in one place.

Winter then introduced Wally Palmer, a Detroit-native who played with “The Romantics,” and kept the crowd going. Everyone was singing along to “Talking in Your Sleep,” and for this piece Edgar Winter played a great saxophone solo.

They threw the Beatles-classic “I Wanna Be Your Man” into the rotation then introduced Gary Wright to play “Dream Weaver,” which he attributed some of his inspiration for this song to George Harrison. The psychedelic background with colors changing and lights all over got kind of romantic, and the crowd was in love.

Ringo and His Starrs played all those songs that have been on the radio for decades that are so contagious, you know all the words to, but you could never get sick of. It was then that Richard Page was introduced as the former lead and bass player of Mr. Mister to play the 80’s-rific tune, “Kyrie,” prompting the entire audience to clap along to the beat. With that, they had finished the first rotation and moved onto the next throwing Ringo in the middle here and there. Each of Ringo’s Starr’s had the chance to rock out to their fullest and amp up the audience to the max.

It was one of those great concerts where instead of being tired and wondering how long they’ll play or when it will end, you can’t wait to hear what’s next, hoping they play all night! They played for two hours and ended with a tune that Ringo claimed hadn’t gotten such a good response at their other shows. He said he’d leave it up to the Clearwater audience to decide whether or not to keep it on the set list.

So, when they played, “With a Little Help from My Friends” the crowd went completely nuts, therefore deciding that they keep it as part of the show. For the first time since the opening everyone in the audience was standing, singing and dancing.

The big finale was a Lennon-esque tribute of “Give Peace a Chance.” Ringo was left with yet another standing ovation as the audience sent their love to Ringo as he left the stage. The All Starrs took their finale bows. Disappointingly there was no encore but the crowd exited Ruth Eckerd on a major music high after this awesome blast from the past on a Tuesday night with Ringo and his All Starr Band!

Set List:

It Don’t Come Easy

Honey Don’t

Choose Love

Hang on Sloopy

Free Ride

Talking in Your Sleep

I Wanna Be Your Man

Kyrie

The Otherside of Liverpoole

Yellow Submarine

Frankenstein

Peace Dream

Back Off Boogaloo

Boys

Broken Wings

Photograph

Act Naturally

With A Little Help from My Friends/Give Peace a Chance (Finale!)

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