For only the third time ever, Ringo Starr played Austin. He brought his All-Starr Band to the ACL Live at the Moody Theater on a rainy All Hallows’ Eve, halfway through his brief 2017 tour that started with an 8-night run in Las Vegas and ends next month on the East Coast.
Anyone who caught his 2014 shows in this same venue pretty much knows what to expect. There would be no real surprises. And although he takes top billing, it isn’t really a Ringo showcase. It’s just stellar musicianship from journeyman musicians playing hits from each of their back catalogs. Kind of a cover-band consisting of one-time rock stars who are now enjoying life playing the music they love with a living legend at the helm. For the audience, it is a chance to escape the realities of today’s turbulent world with a little help of some old friends.
In the spirit of the holiday, the band took the stage in costume (most of them anyway). His current lineup has been together for five years and consists of Todd Rundgren (wearing a Darth Vader mask decorated with a Mercedes logo, a heart and a pot leaf), Gregg Rolie of Santana and Journey (donning a rubber skull mask), Steve Lukather of Toto (who apparently decided he wanted none of this silliness), Richard Page of Mister Mister (wearing a Richard Page mask?), Ft Worth’s own Warren Ham who has toured with Olivia Newton-John, Toto, Kansas and Donna Summer on sax, flute, vocals and percussion (in an Alien mask) and Gregg Bissonette of Santana and the David Lee Roth Band on drums (monkeying around in full gorilla costume).
Wearing a devil’s mask, Ringo took the stage and began the evening’s festivities by greeting the standing crowd with his trademark peace signs. Looking remarkably fit at 77 years young, he took the mic and circled center stage, opening with Carl Perkin’s 1956 hit “Matchbox.” Removing their masks, the band continued with Ringo’s solo hit “It Don’t Come Easy” followed by the only Beatles song in which Ringo received a writing credit alongside Lennon and McCartney – “What Goes On.”
RINGO STARR’S ALL STARR BAND PHOTO GALLERY
Click to View Full Images
With the obligatory “Ringo” showcase out of the way, Mr. Starkey slipped behind the drum kit as they launched into Rundgren’s hit “I Saw the Light.” Tunes by Santana, Toto, and Mr. Mister followed, setting the stage for the night’s varied setlist. These were songs everyone knew. Even though Ringo was promoting his recent release “Give More Love,” they didn’t play anything from it, having scratched the title song from the set after a sloppy half-performance the previous night in El Paso. This band just wants to play, not think or learn a new tune!
The audience sang along, danced and thoroughly enjoyed themselves throughout the 24 song set which ended, fittingly, with the Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends” and capped with a chorus of John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band’s “Give Peace a Chance.” The band was joined onstage by local favorite, singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, who sang along while filming the festivities on his cellphone.
While many may have preferred a night of all Ringo and Beatles nostalgia, most got what they came for. For a couple of hours, we were allowed to ignore the troubles of the world and celebrate with the man who has made “Peace and Love” his mantra.