Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion October 10, 2014
Ever wonder what Todd Rundgren would sound like playing guitar for Santana? Or Gregg Rolie offering Hammond B-3 organ flourishes for Toto? Or Ringo Starr pounding drums for...Mr. Mister?
Probably not. But in the musical sampler platter that is the continuing saga of Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, those unlikely pairings happened. Much to the delight and often surprise of a crowd who knew the songs -- if not necessarily the men who originally sang or played them. Oh, and there's a freakin' Beatle onstage to boot as well.
Since 1989 and through 13 incarnations, Starr -- wisely knowing that an all-Ringo show might be a bit much -- has hit the road with a rotating roster of '60s, '70s, and '80s rockers. They play both as a unit backing Ringo, and then step forward to regale the audience with their own hits.
Past lineups have included Joe Walsh, Randy Bachman, Mark Farner, Peter Frampton, Edgar Winter, Ian Hunter, Colin Hay, Billy Preston, John Entwistle, and Rodger Hodgson.
Bounding onstage with an energy and slim physique belying his 74 years, Ringo was the avuncular and entertaining...well...Ringomaster for the proceedings on a beautiful night in The Woodlands.
Starr bounced back and forth throughout the show for a series of Beatles hits he originally took lead vocal on ("Act Naturally," "Don't Pass Me By," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Boys"), solo material ("It Don't Come Easy," a well-received "Photograph"), and at least one deep cut for those hardcore Ringo fans.
Of course, "Yellow Submarine," coming midway through the set, was the most cell-phone-shot song of the night, with the audience taking the chorus.
Singer/guitarist Todd Rundgren -- clearly the eccentric uncle you wish you had in his M.C. Escher-type black and white shirt, two-tone hair, and big '70s sunglasses -- offered a funny turn on "Bang the Drum All Day" ("This is the one song we can't get the rhythm down yet," he joked), and a touching, virile "Love is the Answer." That tune was originally recorded with his group Utopia, but a became a huge soft rock hit for England Dan and John Ford Coley.
And speaking of virile, Todd's, um, tight leather pants clearly showed a fashion outline not exactly fit for children, and magnified immensely by the Woodlands large video screens. And he did talk about the "love oozing from the stage" for his bandmates...
Toto guitarist/singer Steve Lukather earned the first non-Starr standing audience for a strong, groove-laden "Rosanna." And while his call for people to stand again during on overextended "Africa" was obeyed by the audience like lemmings...still, I mean., it was "Africa." Hold the Line" offered a better rock moment.
Story continues on the next page.
Original Santana vocalist/keyboardist Gregg Rollie's set included the triple threat of "Oye Como Va," "Evil Ways" and a searing "Black Magic Woman." Lukather handled all of Carlos Santana's fiery guitar parts with a sharp skill. He may be an underrated axe man.
But the surprise of the night was Richard Page, vocalist/bassist for Mr. Mister. His powerful, pristine and still-hit-the-high-notes voice turned '80s radio fodder like "Kyrie" and "Broken Wings" into something almost spiritual. He also did a new song he wrote that, while adequate, stopped the proceedings a bit.
The band was augmented by Warren Ham (ex-Bloodrock) on sax and keyboards and Gregg Bisonnette (ex-David Lee Roth) on drums.
The closer, of course, was "With a Little Help From My Friends" that segued into a snippet of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" ("Peace and Love" being Ringo's preferred mantra), resulting in one of the most communal feelings of any show I've ever been to.
Ringo ran off the stage quickly after a quick "Thank you, Houston!", leaving the band to take a long bow and waving to the crowd as the lights went up with no encore (as has been the case on the tour).
It was a bit odd that Starr chose to make such an abrupt exit instead of basking a bit more in the crowd love. But it didn't damper a wonderful experience of the two-hour classic rock tapas buffet where almost every dish was piping hot. Still, it would be hard to beat this one as the "feel good" show of the year.
Personal Bias: I wasn't occasionally called "Beatle Bobby" in high school for nothing. Actually made and directed a video for "A Day in the Life" as a senior-class project.
The Crowd: Widest age range I've ever seen at a show -- literally from 5 to 75. Lots of Beatles T-shirts, including one "Ringo for President."
Overhead In the Crowd: "It's going to be a different crowd for Motley Crue and Alice Cooper tomorrow night."
Random Notebook Dump: No "Octopus's Garden???" The band could have killed those harmonies! And why did the ads not feature or mention the "All-Starr Band" members or material? Would have sold more tickets.
Matchbox It Don't Come Easy Wings I Saw the Light Evil Ways Rosanna Kyrie Bang The Drum All Day Boys Don't Pass Me By Yellow Submarine Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen Honey Don't Anthem You Are Mine Africa Oye Como Va Love is the Answer I Wanna Be Your Man Broken Wings Hold the Line Photograph Act Naturally With a Little Help From My Friends Give Peace a Chance
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