If you have the chance to see an iconic band, even if there are only a couple of original members left, you should probably take it. The same goes for a solo artist. With Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, there’s no question that, if you have the opportunity, you should take it. With a sold out performance at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, it seems many got the memo. Though the venue had nearly a quarter of the capacity of Starlight, which Ringo filled a few years earlier, the smaller space made the show feel more intimate, and allowed for a stronger connection between Ringo, his band, and the audience.
For the uninitiated, the All Starr Band is a supergroup of musicians founded in 1989, with a roster of musicians, that has rotated over the past few decades. To join, a musician must have at least two hits that they sang on, and be able to accompany Ringo (who himself sings, and plays drums on a few songs, of course). Alumni of the group include Joe Walsh, Dr. John, John Entwistle, and Roger Hodgson, along with countless others. The current line-up includes Steve Lukather (Toto) on guitar, Edgar Winter (Edgar Winter Group) on keyboards (and seemingly every other instrument under the sun), Colin Hay (Men at Work) on guitar, Hamish Stuart (Average White Band) on bass, Warren Ham (Toto/Kansas) on percussion, and saxophone, and Gregg Bissonette (ELO, DLR Band) on drums. Any one of these bands could sell out the Uptown on their own (and several certainly have), so to have them all together is certainly a fever dream for any music fan.
With a musical legacy that spans decades, it’s not surprising that the ages at the show ranged from kids under 10, to people who were kids when The Beatles when they made their debut on the Ed Sullivan show. Many showed their true love of Beatlemania, wearing vintage t-shirts, while others donned colorful costumes, like worn by the lads on their Magical Mystery Tour. It was a wonderful fellowship.
While Ringo’s name does have top billing (and rightly so), there’s really no sense of ego, or pretense. He does sing the most songs, but one gets a sense that it’s just a group of good friends, who wrote some great music over the decades, and love playing it together.
Every member of the band is given their moment to shine, with Ringo either stepping back, playing on drums (in perfect synchronicity with Gregg), or stepping off stage entirely to “drink his juice” in the dressing room. Edgar Winter singing “Free Ride”? Check. Lukather singing “Africa”? Of course! Colin Hay telling us about “The Land Down Under”, and proclaiming that Kansas City is the first place outside of Australia the song charted (probably)? We’d expect nothing less.
It would be easy for Ringo to lean heavily on his history with The Beatles during his set, but apart from off-handedly saying, “I’m going to do a song written by my friend John. And I think you know which John I’m talking about.” little mention was made.
Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band presents not just a celebration of the music made by The Beatles, and Ringo’s solo career, but it also celebrates the radio favorites spanning decades. If you’ve already seen the show once, you’ll want to go again, because it will be different. Besides, in today’s world, who couldn’t use a little more peace and love, and be reminded that we get by with a little help from our friends.
Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin