Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band, September 22, 2018: Shows I’ll Never Forget

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Chicago Theatre, Chicago, Illinois: When Ringo Starr sits behind the drums and shakes his head to the beat, time temporarily turns back to 1964. The mop-top hairdo may be long gone, but the ex-Beatles star’s energy and charm remain.

The 2018 edition of his All Starr Band may feature artists who experienced their greatest success in the 1970s and 1980s, but every musician pointed to Ringo Starr as one of the main reasons they entered the music business. This chemistry radiated from the stage as they performed to a sold-out crowd at the Chicago Theatre on Sept. 22, 2018. Delivering a night of nonstop hits, the band showcased their impeccable musicianship while easily joking with one another. In turn, Starr served as not only the main event, but the host of a party.

Kicking off the show, the 78-year-old ran onstage to deliver a bouncy version of Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” immediately followed by one of Ringo Starr’s biggest hits, “It Don’t Come Easy.” Starr’s vocals particularly shone on this number, as his voice has remained largely unaffected in almost 60 years in the business. A welcome surprise was his rendition of “What Goes On,” a country-soaked track off Rubber Soul. (Starr explained that it stands as the only song credited to Lennon–McCartney-Starkey, although he joked his name should have gotten top billing.) His droll delivery has changed little since first recording the song more than 50 years ago.

Starr then handed over the microphone to new All Starr Band member Graham Gouldman, an original member of the art rock group 10cc. The group ran through “Dreadlock Holiday,” a track Gouldman pointed out was a huge hit everywhere but America. Starr seemed to particularly enjoy drumming on the song, shaking his head to the reggae rhythm.

Moving on to Gregg Rolie, the founding member of Santana lead the All Starr Band through a rocking version of “Evil Ways,” with Steve Lukather handling Carlos Santana’s iconic solos. Lukather then assumed the spotlight with “Rosanna,” the Toto hit that inspired the audience to sing along to virtually ever word An extended jam at the end let Rolie and Lukather trade solos, also highlighting the veteran musicians’ skills honed over a lengthy period of time.

One of the show’s highlights and MVPs was Colin Hay, the Men at Work lead singer and songwriter who led the audience in singalongs and even treated everyone to some silly but enthusiastic dance moves. Hay’s voice sounds virtually identical as in 1982, when “Down Under” became a smash hit and earned the group the Best New Artist Grammy. The audience cheered as Hay hit the same high notes and sang every lyric with him.

Ringo Starr, the ringmaster, then returned with more Beatles hits, including a raucous version of “Boys.” He then briefly moved to the keyboards to bang out the beginning of his first composition the Beatles recorded, “Don’t Pass Me By.” Like “What Goes On,” the song reveals Starr’s deep affection for country.

After leading the audience in a fun singalong of “Yellow Submarine,” he once again turned the spotlight over to the band. What followed was a live 1970s and 1980s jukebox, serving as a time machine as they performed 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love” and “Things We for Love,” Toto’s “Africa” and “Hold the Line,” Men at Work’s “Overkill” and “Who Can It Be Now,” and Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va.”

Interspersed throughout was Ringo Starr’s drumming (along with longtime co-drummer Gregg Bissonette), but when he took center stage, his timeless charm excited the crowd. He delivered hits such as “You’re Sixteen,” “Photograph,” and even the Ringo 2012 track “Anthem” (with the audience flashing his trademark “peace and love” hand gestures in answer to his own). However, when he concluded the show with “With a Little Help from My Friends,” that familiar voice singing the opening lyric “What would you do if I sang out of tune / Would you stand up and walk out on me?” sent chills down the spine.

That instantly familiar voice, largely undimmed by time, remains one of the most recognizable moments off Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and served as a perfect end to an evening filled with both nostalgia and lasting memories.

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Kit O'Toole
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