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Monday, July 9, 2012

Ringo's All Starr Band played the hits at the Fox Theatre Friday night

Ringo was in town for a show at the Fox Theatre Friday night (July 6) — the day before a special day for the Liverpudlian drummer who was born Richard Starkey. It was the eve of his 72nd birthday, but from about 50 feet (about as close as I could get), the former Beatle looked to be in excellent health as he sang and danced and pounded through a string of hits. There were the songs from Ringo’s albums, “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph,” along with some newer tunes — "Wings" and "Anthem" were particularly poignant. And of course there were Beatles songs on the itinerary: "Yellow Submarine,” "Don't Pass Me By," "With A Little Help From My Friends," and so on.

This was the 13th incarnation of his All Starr Band, which included Steve Lukather (of Toto), Richard Page (of Mr. Mister), Mark Rivera, Gregg Rolie (of Santana), Todd Rundgren, and Gregg Bissonette. Naturally the Toto hits on the block included “Rosanna,” “Africa” and “Hold the Line.” The Santanta highlights came in the form of “Evil Ways” and “Black Magic Woman,” Rundgren gave us “I Saw the Light,” and “Bang on the Drum.” The Mr. Mister hits included “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings,” which require some rumination. If you’ve seen the All Starr Band, you know the M.O. If you go the State Fair to see any of these guy’s in their proper bands (sans Ringo of course), you’d have to stand through an entire Mr. Mister set to see them do “Kyrie,” if that’s your thing. With the All Starr Band, each member passes the baton, upping the ante on the hits with each new song that they play.

Regardless, a song like “Kyrie” is so deeply engrained in America’s collective subconscious that every one of us knows the melody, and the lyrics, even if we don’t know that we know them (or would ever admit it). It’s stored in our brains and triggered like a reflex, and like a twisted Pavlovian cue mid-show, when those words filled the air: “The wind blows hard against this mountain side, across the sea into my soul ... ” everyone reacts, no matter who is watching, or how ironic it may seem to you. Your neighbor gives you the look of acknowledgement and hands go in the air. Resistance is futile.

This seems to be chief among Ringo’s contributions to the world after playing alongside the colossal egos of his fellow Beatles. The All Starr show is about creating an environment where working stiffs can have fun listening and dancing to music, and that’s the bottom line. There’s a mild Vegas element to the dayglo backdrop, but it’s subtle, and never draws attention away from the songs or the performance, or the fact that you are indeed standing in the presence of a Beatle — the one who would clearly be the most fun to hang out with.

The show on Friday night went off without a hitch. The energy was high and kept its pace for a solid two hours, but when it was over, it was over. It was 10 p.m., the lights came up after a run through “Give Peace A Chance,” the house music was barely audible under the rumbling applause from the sea of silver hair that filled the auditorium, but eventually the crowd subsided. A warped procession somewhere in the room sang a few verses of happy birthday, as they made their way out into the humid summer air. An encore would have been nice, perhaps “Octopus’s Garden” would have brought everything to a fine point, but no one protested too loudly.

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