Ringo, looking trim in his sunglasses, was surrounded by some mainstays of classic rock radio – Steve Lukathier of Toto, Gregg Rolie of Santana and Journey, Todd Rundgren (also in sunglasses), Richard Page of Mister Mister (also also in sunglasses), Mark Rivera (Billy Joel’s sideman for three decades, three marriages, and two rehabs) and dynamite drummer Greg Bissonette. You know you’ve got an All-Star band when Ringo Starr is the back-up drummer.
I have to give these gentlemen props. They all qualify for Early Bird Dinner Specials, a few are probably eligible for Medicare, this was the last stop on a grueling two month cross-country schedule, and yet they rocked the house for two straight hours. A lot of times you get to the end of a tour and the musicians are on auto-pilot. They half-ass their set or screw with the songs because they’re sick of singing them. (I went to a Bob Dylan concert and he was so checked-out that I didn’t realize he was singing “Like a Rolling Stone” until halfway through it.) Not so with these pros. They gave it their all, playing with passion and joy reserved for musicians half their age and on twice the stimulants,
In many ways it was a “greatest hits” concert. Each performer got some spotlight time. Richard Page can still really sing, especially on “Broken Wings.” The Santana song, “Black Magic Woman” got the house on its feet, but the number that really killed was Toto’s “Africa.”
Ringo sang his big Beatles hits like “Yellow Submarine” and “Boys” along with “Photograph” and “It Don’t Come Easy” from his solo period. He also did a couple of numbers from his new album and the crowd politely sat through them.
As a surprise treat, Joe Walsh came out and did “Rocky Mountain Way.” Imagine Sid Caesar wailing on a Fender.
I’m guessing it’s because this was L.A. and the final stop of the tour but what a finale! Everyone sang “With a Little Help From My Friends” and they were joined by (among others) Micky Dolenz, Matt Sorum, Peter Frampton, Edgar Winter, Ringo’s lawyer, and some guy in a white suit who parked right next to us in the lot. See who you recognize (besides Ringo’s attorney).
She stood the entire time. Even when everyone else in the Greek was seated. When I asked her to kindly sit down she snapped back at me, “This is a concert! You can’t tell someone to sit down in a concert!” Oh really? That’s concert etiquette? It’s okay to be rude and inconsiderate? Eventually the people behind me (and then behind them) started yelling at her to sit the fuck down. I guess they didn’t get the concert etiquette guidelines memo either. Granny Bimbo then started yelling at all of them. Seriously, her ass alone blocked five people’s view. Happy to say she finally did sit down – during “Africa” when everyone else in the venue was standing up.
But all in all, a great night. And worth it just for historical purposes. Ringo is now 72. I saw Sinatra when he was in his early 70s at the Universal Amphitheater. He couldn’t hit half the notes and the toupee was obvious from outer space. But it was Sinatra. Ringo is a Beatle. You figure, “At his worst, how bad could he sing ‘Yellow Submarine’?” The fact that he sang it great, had energy to burn, played drums or sang for two hours, and assembled a knockout band – you’ve got to give him credit. 72 is the new 42… although someone needs to tell that woman that 59 is not the new 19.
And now for something completely different:
You know how much I love improv. Well, WENDY GOLDMAN and ROBIN SCHIFF, Groundlings alumni and accomplished writers in tv and film, are teaching a a weekend workshop, IMPROV FOR WRITING. August 10-12th. Location: Culver City, CA. Get back in touch with the playful part of your creativity. You don't need to know anything, prepare anything, or do anything other than show up and be open. No homework, either -- hey, it's summer. For details, contact: improvforwriting@gmail. com