Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ringo Starr kicks off tour in Chch

REVIEW: For the most of us born last century, the chance to see one of the Beatles perform live in concert is a lifelong wish.
At 72 Ringo Starr is still going strong, and this show in Christchurch is the first of an 11-date Pacific Rim tour.
Starr has been touring as the All Starr band since 1989 - a clever concept that fleshes out his own material with that of the famous musicians in his band.
His latest All Starr lineup includes legendary producer and musician Todd Rundgren, Toto guitar hero Steve Lukather, Mr Mister bassist Richard Page, and Gregg Rolie, who has voiced Santana songs among others.
Ringo Starr of course was the main attraction.
In appearance little has changed - the beard, the sunglasses, the jaunty movements we know from his movies and the mild Scouse accent.
Although not widely acknowledged as a technical virtuoso with the sticks, his slightly off-kilter rhythms are nevertheless a key element of the sound of the Beatles.
Starr manned the drum kit for a good chunk of the show alongside session drummer Gregg Bissonette. Starr sang and drummed on some of his own Beatles songs: I Wanna Be Your Man and Don't Pass Me By.
The words "influenced by the Beatles" is one of the most overused dictums in the history of rock music.
Although Todd Rundgren has passed through many phases as an artist - be it prog rock, opera or folk -his work in the early 70s as a purveyor of power pop is widely acknowledged.
I Saw the Light, Love is the Answer and Bang the Drum All Day were all performed and illustrated his penchant for melodic and elaborate word play in a Beatlesesque twist.
Rundgren acknowledged early in the set that the object of the All Starr band was to unite the many disparate musical forces of its members into a whole.
This at times was a difficult task - the heavier psych/jazz rock of Santana's Evil Ways for instance is at odds with the soft 80s style pop of Mr Mister's Kyrie and Broken Wings (sung by Richard Page).
The 3000-strong crowd enjoyed the hits of Toto sung by Lukather with his trademark guitar solos - Africa, Rosanna and Hold the Line. Again these songs were in contrast with the band's forays into early rock 'n' roll, such as Matchbox and a Shirelles song, Boys, recently remodelled by Starr.
The band members took turns at addressing the crowd - Lukather in particular cajoling the generally seated rows in front of him to dance in aisles and contribute to the fun.
It was Ringo Starr who seemed to bond with the audience most, though, in his simple but genuine declarations of love and peace.
His grandchildren may mock him for his dancing but Starr himself still retains a sense of childlike innocence that permeates songs such as Yellow Submarine.
Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, CBS Arena, Christchurch. Reviewed by Matt Davey.

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