Review: Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band @ Citi Performing Arts Center, Boston

by John Reed,

It has been a great year for Ringo Starr. He was finally inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his solo career (he was already in as a Beatle), a book of his photographs, called of course, Photograph, came out, and his latest album Postcards from Paradise dropped last March. And, did I mention that he turned 75 years old this past July?

Add to all this, Starr (who looks fantastic) is once again on the road with his All-Starr Band, which played to a sold-out crowd at the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston on October 23, 2015. While Starr used to employ a revolving door of talent for each tour, this edition of the All Star Band is, save for the absence of saxophonist Mark Rivera, the same collective he used the last time he came to Boston in 2012.

Opening with the rockabilly classic Matchbox, (a Carl Perkins original, which the Fab Four covered in 1964), Starr and the group wasted no time in following it up with his greatest solo tune, It Don't Come Easy. This led into the Caribbean laced Island in the Sun, a new song from Postcards from Paradise. This tune is notable as it the only song on the new record that was written by everyone in the current line-up.

Never one to hog the spotlight, Starr generously turned the focus over to his band many times during the evening. Todd Rundgren was a standout on I Saw the Light and his great ode to laziness Bang the Drum All Day. The 80’s were also revisited by Toto’s Steve Lukather with Roseanna and Mr. Misters Richard Page, who pulled out his former bands hits, Kyrie and Broken Wings.

While all this was great, the frantic Boston crowd wanted more of Starr, and the band sprinkled the set with the iconic Yellow Submarine, Don’t Pass Me By (his best contribution from the Beatles White Album), I Wanna Be Your Man, and Boys. Boys, a cover of The Shirelles original, is a personal favorite of Starr’s - so much so that he played it during his HOF induction last April.

And, he did not forget his solo hits, as the ensemble dipped in Starr’s most famous album, 1973’s Ringo, for the pop magic of Your Sixteen, the mournfully sweet Photograph, and the tongue in cheek ditty I'm the Greatest, (the latter being the closest thing to a Beatles reunion till 1995, as the original track featured Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon).

While the audience was gladly drenched in nostalgic nirvana, Starr took it all the way with the set ending With A Little Help from My Friends. A brief encore of Give Peace a Chance gave Starr a chance to give a gracious nod to Lennon, and ended the show on a perfect note.

It wasn’t quite Beatlemania recreated, but it was the next best thing!

The set list:
  • Matchbox
  • It Don't Come Easy
  • Island in the Sun
  • I Saw the Light (performed by Todd Rundgren)
  • Evil Ways (performed by Gregg Rolie)
  • Rosanna (performed by Steve Lukather and Warren Ham)
  • Kyrie (performed by Richard Page)
  • Bang the Drum All Day (performed by Todd Rundgren)
  • Boys
  • Don't Pass Me By
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen (performed by Gregg Rolie)
  • You're Sixteen
  • I'm the Greatest
  • You Are Mine
  • Africa (performed by Steve Lukather and Warren Ham)
  • Oye como va (performed by Gregg Rolie)
  • I Wanna Be Your Man
  • Love Is the Answer (performed by Todd Rundgren)
  • Broken Wings (performed by Richard Page)
  • Hold the Line (performed by Steve Lukather and Warren Ham)
  • Photograph
  • Act Naturally
  • With a Little Help From My Friends
  • Give Peace a Chance

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