By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Live Review: Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band – The Sound, Clearwater, FL-September 26, 2023
It has been almost a year since Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band (RSASB) performed at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. We were so fortunate for RSASB to return to our area on September 26th, but this time, he graced the new outdoor venue the Sound. The amphitheater holds approximately 4,000 people under the covered seating and has the capacity for additional seating on the lawn. And, yes, it was totally jam-packed on this muggy September night.
Starr walked out on stage wearing his tinted glasses, dark hair, and beard, looking extremely fit for 83 years old. He had recently tripped on stage in New Mexico, so thankfully, it was not a serious tumble. Starr wore comfortable Adidas knit pants, a black shirt with a rhinestone hand peace symbol, and a sparkly long-sleeved white shirt. He immediately began singing “Matchbox” with the All-Starr Band, who are pretty impressive in their own right.
Not only was there an ex-Beatle in the house, but a stellar lineup of leaders of classic bands spanning the 70s and 80s—Steve Lukather (Toto), Colin Hay (Men At Work), Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth), Hamish Stuart (Average White Band/Paul McCartney), Edgar Winter (Edgar Winter Group), and Warren Ham (Toto/RSASB). Each band member is a ‘starr’ in their own right.
Starr’s breakout 1971 hit “It Don’t Come Easy” (and a personal favorite next to “Photograph”) brought people to their feet. He introduced Winter, who launched into the popular 70s hit “Free Ride.” Winter was entertaining as he introduced Lukather with a slew of multi-syllable adjectives that rolled off his Texan tongue. Lukather walked up to the mic with a smile and responded, “I didn’t realize I was ‘gesticular.’ I had to look the word up.”
As the evening proceeded, each band member showcased the hits from their original bands. Seeing the RSASB was like seeing multiple concerts in one. For example, Lukather performed “Rosanna”, Colin Hay performed “Down Under,” Winter performed “Frankenstein,” and Stuart performed “Pick Up the Pieces.”
Ringo remarked during the concert, “This is the first time All-Star is at the Sound. I love this venue! It’s out in the open.”
Indeed, I can agree. Perhaps the atmosphere encouraged the band to be inspired and in the “zone.” The sound from my seat was full, fleshed-out, and orchestral and the renditions of the songs sounded better than the originals. We could hear the nuances of the flute in “Down Under” or the trumpet in “Yellow Submarine,” adeptly performed by multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham. Winter’s sax and Bissonette and Starr’s double-drumming on “Pick Up the Pieces” added the familiar groove to the song. As an aside, I couldn’t help but notice the use of boutique brand amps (Bogner and Magnatone) which possibly helped the sound.
The audience was singing along, standing, and holding up cell phones in the air during “Yellow Submarine.” Ringo then left the stage saying, “I’ll be in my dressing room doing my duty.”
Stuart asked the audience, “Who remembers the 70s?” A roar of “Yeahs” was heard in response. He continued, “Specifically, 1975” before jumping into the funky “Cut the Cake.”
The next song, “Frankenstein,” was phenomenal. It brought back memories of playing the album and dancing in the living room. Winter was the first artist to strap on a keyboard synth—and boy, did he perform on it last night. The song melded into an all-out jam session as he switched to a row full of snares and dueted a medley of hits (Beatles, Stones) with Bissonette before returning to the chorus.
Upon his return to the stage, Starr asked, “Was it musical?’ He then launched into “Octopus’s Garden” and the “Back Off Boogaloo,” where he sang and drummed simultaneously.
Hay’s version of “Overkill” sounded incredible, as did his voice the entire evening. He has not lost an inch of power or tone over the last 40 years. As the song played, I closed my eyes, taking it all in, and time-traveled back to riding in my Fiero.
Lukather’s “Africa” had everyone standing and singing. Thanks to Weezer, young people now know the song.
Highlights were Starr chatting between songs in his familiar Liverpudlian accent I so often heard watching Beatles’ films and their Saturday morning cartoons. He dedicated “I Wanna’ Be Your Man” to the women saying, “To all the ladies in the house—this is for you”, bringing us back mentally to the early ’60s.
Winter introduced “Johnny B. Goode” as “a story of every kid that comes from humble beginnings.” He dedicated the song to his late brother Johnny Winter, and added, “My album Brother Johnny won a Grammy in 2022 for Best Contemporary Blues Album and featured people such as Joe Walsh and Michael McDonald.”
I waited all night to hear another Starr favorite, “Photograph”, which truly warms the heart. The melody is cheerful, yet the lyrics are poignant and sentimental.
The evening’s concert ended as Starr sang, “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
Truly, the evening and the whole theme of Ringo and His All-Starr Band is collaboration. He visibly enjoys performing with his “friends” and allows every member to shine. You hear all of their hits plus Starr’s songs, in one concert. If you only attend one concert this year, let it be this one.
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