Ringo Starr, Casino Rama, May 28, 2022
I had to let this experience settle, because how does one encounter a Beatle. Just as one encounters anyone else, I suppose, but on that scale the concert that Ringo and his All Starr Band put on at Casino Rama, May, 28, 2022, was, well, a near 82-year-old man leading some buddies through golden oldies.
But once a Beatle, always a Beatle, and a bit of the shimmer remains. Starr used a two-night stand at the Rama Reserve outside Orillia, Ontario, to kick off his new tour. I attended on the second night of the stand. The Toronto Sun ran a short review of the first night, along with a little interview with Starr. Did he wish he'd had more time with the Fab Four? ... I admit, my first reaction to this question was to hold back defensive anger on Starr's behalf. That was over 50 years ago!
And it shows. The man could lead a singalong at the local bar, but lead a North American Tour? I guess.
“We were lads when we started and as it went on we had wives and children, and we stopped touring and made great records,” he said. “And we all played well together, and we got on with each other and that’s just how it was. It came to a point eight years later — that blows me away, we did all that in eight years — it was time to leave.”
And despite his advancing age, he said he’ll never retire.
“I only ever wanted to be a drummer from 13. And it’s still there. I love to play. I’m a musician, I don’t have to retire. As long as I can pick up those sticks, I’ve got a gig.”
The internet tells me Starr has a net worth of $350 million, but I guess he will rock 'til he drops. He'll be at Toronto's Massey Hall on Sept. 28, 2022. I will not be.
The current version of the All Starr Band included Edgar Winter, Steve Lukather (Toto), Warren Ham, Colin Hay (Men At Work), Hamish Stuart (Average White Band), and drummer Gregg Bissonette.
Starr sang the Beatles songs he vocalized, mostly from the group early records, but also mid- and late-term hits, Yellow Submarine and Octopus's Garden (the finale). [Why is he always under water?] He sang his known solo songs, though most were unknown to me. All notes were within his three-tone range.
Lukather showed the most charisma, urging the massive audience of oldsters to stand up and dance to his "party song," Toto's "Africa." They didn't, but Lukather proved his chops—as did Winter, who at 75 was nothing less than awesome, leading the band through a lengthy rock out on "Frankenstein."
Stuart was chirpy and happy and new to me, delivering engaged Scottish funk. But it was Men at Work's Colin Hay who surprised me most. He played three tunes, including the Australian group's massive 1980s hits, "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under."
If the tone above is one of disappointment and befuddlement, I've captured the experience. Little Richie has his brand down tight: Peace. Love. He aims to please. He provides a good time. Though it was more than a bit creepy when he asked if there were any young girls in the audience, and then sang: "I wanna be your lover baby, I wanna be your man." Some cringing self-awareness may have assisted—too late for that.
Strange, perhaps, but I left thinking of Bruce Springsteen and his one-man Broadway show, a follow-up to his remarkable memoir (and the product of decades of therapy, which he notes throughout). Springsteen re-imagines his catalogue amongst stories of his life, as he deconstructs his image as a working class hero and his now very rich life.
Starr's show had no structure. It told no story.
As a concert, it was truly bad (with shining moments).
Starr may not have lost the beat, but he's lost the plot. But rock on, pal. Cherrio.