Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band’s show at Chastain Park Amphitheater on Sat., July 10 was entertaining in a state fair kind of way. Let’s get the props out of the way first. Dude was a Beatle. He had a hand in shaping the face of rock and roll as we know it and he’s always seemed like the one guy in the group who would be a whole lot of fun to hang out with. Ringo is also the least respected of the Fab 4, but that didn't really concern me. I ventured into the wilds of Chastain to see him play mostly because Paul McCartney’s show at Piedmont Park last summer was so epic. The chance to see the other surviving member of the group perform less than a week after his 70th birthday was no-brainer — don’t miss your chance.
When McCartney stepped onto the stage last year it was like being in the presence of greatness, and everyone within a square mile felt it. Ringo looked more like a lounge singer, shaking his hips with smooth, confident motions when they launched into “It Don’t Come Easy.” The off-beat drummer has a Vegas-style swagger which was sort of what I expected, and when he greeted the picnicking masses, proclaiming “I always love coming here and watching people eat,” all signs pointed to a fantastic show.
There were a lot of peace signs being held high, and a lot of gray hairs and bald heads in the audience, which was also to be expected. What I didn’t expect, however, was the dad rock caravan of classic rock+ ‘80s hits that ensued, which was surreal, hilarious and fun on some kind of profound levels.
The All-Starr lineup featured Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Gary Wright (the guy who sang “Dream Weaver”), Wally Palmar (the Romantics) and auxiliary drummer Gregg Bissonette.
The Beatles and Ringo solo numbers were earnest diamonds in the rough as the group eased their way through a sampling of each member’s respective hits. The Romantics numbers included “Talking In Your Sleep” and “What I Like About You.” Derringer led a arousing run through “Rock N Roll Hoochie Coo,” “Free Ride” and “Hang On Sloopy” which he made famous with the McCoys. Selections from the Mr. Mister catalog included “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings,” and of course watching Edgar Winter go nuts on “Frankenstein” was an absolute highlight.
Before tearing into it Winter revealed that his keyboard had a guitar strap, and he proceeded to terrorize the front row, hulking over the edge of the stage with demonic posture.
From where I sat he looked to be about 13 feet tall; he wasn’t dominating the stage with a keytar, but a heavy ass keyboard, and it was an awesome sight to behold. Winter is an absolute beast with a saxophone and drums too, all of which he wielded effortlessly in the course of one monster song.
When "Frankenstein" was over, Ringo returned front and center with an exaggerated walk that first looked like a clumsy sashay, but after a minute I realized that he was recreating the Abbey Road walk — there’s that Vegas thing again.
Of course they played "Photograph," as well as a few songs from Ringo's new CD, Y Not, after which he thanked "all three people who bought it." The Beatles songs he played included “Yellow Submarine,” “Act Naturally,” “Boys,” “With A Little Help From My Friends” and finally “Give Peace A Chance” brought it all to a close.
No complaints really. It was what it was, and with so much collected experience on one stage, it's hard to imagine things going any way other than flawless. I went to see Beatles songs, and got a few. I got to see "Frankenstein," "Rock N Roll Hoochie Coo," “Kyrie” and "Broken Wings" too. Yeah... Let that sink in for a minute...
Editor's Note: "Photograph" was an early Ringo Starr solo song co-written by George Harrison.
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