Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ringo Starr Concert: 50 Greys In Shades

Hey, those old guys can still play!  Was fortunate enough to see the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band’s final concert Saturday night at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

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).
Star gazing (or Starr gazing) in the crowd: I saw Ringo’s wife, Barbara Bach. She looked amazing. And Sally Kellerman. There may have been other celebrities but those were the ones I saw.

Unfortunately, the woman who sat in front of me almost ruined my evening. What a piece of work. She had to be in her late 50’s if she was a day. And yet she was stuffed into this tight tight skirt, bra harnessing silicone bazooms, a bare midriff exposing a gut that hung over her skirt, bleached blond hair, high heels – she must have thought she looked super hot. What she really looked like was a fullback in drag. I would have felt sorry for her if she wasn’t such a bitch with a capital C.

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


William Gatevackes said...

I saw Ringo Starr back in 1995. His All-Starr band consisted of Randy Bachman (Guess Who); Felix Cavilere (Rascals); John Entwhistle (The Who); Mark Farmer (Grand Funk); and Billy Preston. I was heavy into grunge and alternative at the time (took a friends son because I had a car and got a free ticket out of the deal)but I still think that show was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. My respect for those artists increased exponentially after that.

To be honest, I never quite know what the etiquette is when it comes to standing during rock concerts, but being that I am big and tall, I usually stay seated until I can't stay seated anymore. But if everybody else is seated, I'm not going to be the yahoo who gets up and blocks everybody's view. It's common courtesy.

Anonymous said...

At least you weren't sitting in front of Fred Willard.

Eric J said...

Thanks for not showing a full frontal.

Mike said...

That's Jeff Lynne on the far right.
And someone that looks a bit like Stevie Nicks but probably isn't.
Your friend would've made short work of you in the Mosh Pit.

Roger Owen Green said...

Ken - it IS the All Starr band

Aaron Hazouri said...

These guys really know how to perform. I sometimes search out Paul McCartney shows on YouTube and that guy can still play and sing like he was in his 40s. At 33 I'm probably not the "nostalgia audience" those guys are playing to, but I'm still impressed.

Jeremiah Avery said...

Some people seem to forget the concert is not for their own private viewing. I was at a concert a few years ago and a guy put his girlfriend (or wife, not sure) up on his shoulders and this obscured a decent part of the stage. Factoring in that she was rather heavyset, there were a lot of people yelling at them.

Also, Ken, what is your opinion regarding Aaron Sorkin firing all but one member of his writing staff? According to this article,

It seems like he considered them nothing more than research assistants, which I think is very disrespectful. Matt Weiner is certainly the driving force behind "Mad Men" but he makes sure to let others know about the valuable contributions members of his staff bring to the show.

Also, when I was ordering a few things from Amazon yesterday, I made sure to add a copy of your new book. Definitely looking forward to it arriving, if the sample chapters you posted here are any indication, I know I'll enjoy reading it.

404 said...

I went to a concert a few years back where it was almost impossible to see the stage because everyone in front of me took out their damned iphone and started recording the thing. Seriously, I saw about half of that concert through the 4-inch screen of the person standing in front of me. Pissed me off to no end, as does things like people standing in front of me, people talking behind me, etc (seriously, if you're not there to listen, then LEAVE!) It's not etiquette so much as common freakin' decency.

I have, however, started to take paper and a straw with me to concerts. If anyone puts their damn phone in my face again for more than a few seconds, they'll be getting spitballs all over their nice screen. Screw 'em.

Dan McLaughlin said...

Ken, you gave me a great laugh with the title of this piece- very cleaver and very funny!

With one big blonde exception it sounds like it was a great concert. Often on pro wrestling telecasts someone in the audience will hold up a huge sign towards the cameras that simply says "The guy behind me can't see!" To bad you couldn't have had one of those to stick on her ass!

Marty Appel said...

Joe Walsh is actually Ringo's brother in law; married to Barbara's sister. So not so surprising that he was on stage, and he does like to play with his heroes in rock. I say him play with the Beach Boys once.

By Ken Levine said...

Thanks. Good catch on All-Starr band. Ironically, the site I went to to double-check on spelling of the members had it All-Star.

Rock Golf said...

I went with a girl on a first date to the original Ringo Starr & his All Starr Band in 1989. Ringo, Todd Rundgren, Levon Helm, Clarence Clemons, Billy Preston, Joe Walsh, Richard Manuel.
This Friday will be our 21st anniversary.

Nathan said...

I paid that lady to stand in front of you. Guess I'm going to have to kick in the bonus for wardrobe.


Anonymous said...

EW. I can see why she wanted to be noticed. Somebody should tell her not to stuff 10 pounds of dirt in a 5-pound bag. Sounds like an awesome concert though, fat "B" or not. Julie

Phillip B said...

Let's hope it is not Ringo's "last show" and merely his last show on the current tour!

There is evidence, by the way, that Ringo is one star who handles his own Twitter account (and has a little trouble with the self correcting function.) This was his tweet last night after the show -

Ringo Starr ‏@ringostarrmusic
How fast the time flies toys over what a great not a degree I love the band we had a great time now I'm on holiday

Bob K said...

I saw this tour in Chicago two weeks ago. I came for Ringo but ended up cheering for the band. Great show and Lukather and Rolie really play.

Nice review, Ken.

Charles H. Bryan said...

I remember seeing Sinatra when he was doing a Rat Pack tour. Dean Martin was out due to some illness, and Sinatra seemed to be visibly bored. (A friend of mine said that he looked like he was counting heads and multiplying by $50.)

But Sammy Davis, Jr.? Holy crap, did that man perform! Energy energy energy.

And Ken, I'm really enjoying the Me Generation book and recommending it to others.

scottmc said...

Ichiro traded to the Yankees. Wow!

Gary said...

I saw the opening night of this tour, in Niagara Falls in June. Your review was spot on -- the energy and showmanship of these guys was amazing. The songs all sounded incredible. And every so often you get to say to yourself, "I'm in the same room with a BEATLE!" I've seen five versions of the All-Starr band and this was the best since the original in 1989. Let's hope there are many more!

Pat Reeder said...

I've never seen Ringo, but last week, we saw the Boys of September tour: Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald with a band of incredible sidemen straight off of Steely Dan's albums. Would have enjoyed it even more if I could have heard it in stereo, but the big, fat, drunk guy sitting just to my right was expressing his enjoyment much louder than the music coming out of the amplifiers.

Also recently caught Roger Daltrey doing "Tommy" all the way through, and he was in surprisingly good voice. His lead guitarist and co-singer was Pete Townshend's brother Simon, who sounds exactly like Pete, which really helped. In a couple of months, I have tickets to see Ian Anderson on the "Thick as a Brick" tour. I've decided that if the only thing today's artists can do is rip off other people's old records, I'd rather just go see the people who actually wrote them.

PS - I also went to see Sinatra many moons ago, on the night before I got married. I wasn't giving up that ticket for anything. Critics were complaining then that he was no longer in good voice. Maybe it was just my excitement, or maybe he had a good night, but I thought he was great. When the lights went down, he sat on a stool with a cigarette, one overhead spotlight hit him, and he began to sing, "It's a quarter to three..." you could've heard a pin drop in that giant, open air venue. He transported the whole crowd to a cramped, smoky bar with just the sheer force of his personality. That's a concert moment I'll never forget. It didn't take dancers, costume changes, light shows, choreography or pyrotechnics, just talent.

estiv said...

A possible Friday question, Ken. The other night I was watching a Dick Van Dyke Show episode with Allan Melvin in a supporting role, and got to thinking about how many times I had seen him over the years. On shows like MASH and Cheers, what was the feeling about using well-known character actors for individual episodes? Seems like it would be a tradeoff between hiring a known quantity, reliable and professional, versus the fact that such a familiar face could take the audience out of the story, and just make them think, "Oh, him again." How has it worked in your experience? Thanks.

chalmers said...

In his book "Big Man" (written with Don Reo), the late Clarence Clemons talks about being in a Tokyo hotel room with Ringo during the original 1989 All-Starr tour.

A call comes in for Clarence and it's Bruce Springsteen, delivering the news that he was breaking up the E Street band.

Ringo consoled the Big Man, empathizing, "You'll get through it. I was in a band once that broke up, too."

Tom Quigley said...

Saw Ringo in 2003 at a venue outside Buffalo, NY with a band that consisted of Paul Carrack (Ace, Mike & The Mechanics), Colin Hay (Men At Work), John Waite (The Babys, solo work) and the incomparable Sheilah E. as his co-drummer. While it would have been fantastic to have seen the Beatles perform at least once in my life, this concert was one of the most fun I've ever gone to. As soon as Ringo comes out on stage you know he wants you to have a good time, relax, and sing along. Plus, you not only get to hear Ringo do his Beatle hits and his solo hits, you get a nice cross-section of pop favorites that belonged to the other members in the band.

And the price of a ticket wasn't bad either. While Sir Paul is charging $250 or more for a seat at one of his concerts, I tell people "Why go see McCartney when you can see the guy that sat 10 feet behind him for one-fifth the cost?"

Anonymous said...

"I tell people "Why go see McCartney when you can see the guy that sat 10 feet behind him for one-fifth the cost?""

Let the above remark be a lesson to you, ladies. Never date an accountant.

Starkey Tuna said...

Are we sure that woman in front of Ken wasn't a plant, designed to make Ringo look hot?

Mike Barer said...

I saw Ringo on my 51st birthday at Chateau Saint-Michelle (sp) in Woodinville in 2005. To see a Beatle perform live was a thrill

LarryC said...

What was my mom doing at the Ringo Starr concert???

Phil Harris said...

Peter (of Peter Paul and Mary) recently played a Jersey Shore assisted living community. No problems as you encountered! See review:

ltk said...

The guy in the white suit is Edgar Winter - another legend.