jueves, 29 de octubre de 2015

Ringo leads Starr-studded affair at Heinz Hall

Ringo leads Starr-studded affair at Heinz Hall
By Scott Mervis
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 27, 2015

Ringo Starr, 75, and his All-Starr Band on stage at Heinz Hall, his first time back in Pittsburgh since 1997.
John Heller/Post-Gazette

With its red velvet seats and grand, gilded walls, Heinz Hall usually comes off as too formal for a rock show.

On Tuesday night, however, it was the perfect palace for a member of the rock 'n' roll royalty, Ringo Starr.

As he has since 1989, the Beatle is on the road with his All-Starr Band, stopping here for the first time since he did Station Square in 1997. This 7-piece incarnation, together since 2012, is the longest-running version, so it hit the stage hot.

Ringo took center stage, in fire-engine-red jacket and skull T-shirt, for the Carl Perkins classic "Matchbox," which the drummer did with the Beatles when they were establishing their American R&B roots. Ringo, with that flat, nasal delivery, is not much of a blues singer, but he doesn't need to be. He's Ringo, so we love him for what he is, especially when he's doing a fave like "It Don't Come Easy," the second song.

He touched on his new album with some reggae, "Island in the Sun," and then took his spot behind the drums, handing the stage to his bandmates for an odd but fun round robin of a K-Tel collection of hits.

There was a gruffer-sounding, Hawaiian-spaceman-looking Todd Rundgren doing "I Saw the Light" and "Bang the Drum All Day," and Gregg Rolie of Santana leading "Evil Ways" with a scorching solo by Steve Lukather, who then took the lead on Toto's "Rosanna." Representing the tame side of the '80s was bassist-singer Richard Page from Mr. Mister, starting with "Kyrie."

When it came back around to Ringo, he dug deep into the Fab Four days for "Boys," a rollicking version of "Don't Pass Me By," the first Ringo original recorded by the Beatles, and an even more rollicking group vocal on "Yellow Submarine." That's one where you're thinking, "Wow, that's Ringo Starr doing 'Yellow Submarine' right there."

He took a break for what he called a special "musical moment of the evening," a seven-minute Rolie-led "Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen," with more Santana-style pyrotechnics from Mr. Lukather and other-drummer Gregg Bissonette driving the fiery beats with Warren Ham on percussion.

The hits kept coming in the second hour with "You're Sixteen," Toto's "Africa" and "Hold the Line," Utopia's "Love is the Answer" (with a dramatic Rundgren vocal) and even more Mr. Mister ("Broken Wings"), which was enough Mr. Mister.

The 75-year-old Beatle tastefully pounded his way through it all, including the rigorous Santana/Tito Puente workout "Oye como va."

Ringo went in and out of tune on "I Wanna Be Your Man," but we didn't stand up and walk out on him, which was good because the show came to a joyful finish with the wonderful "Photograph," "Act Naturally" and his most endearing moment, "With a Little Help From My Friends," tagged with "Give Peace a Chance."

This Starr-studded affair was certainly different than one of McCartney's hit-filled marathons, but Ringo always did dance to a different beat. Oddly, right now it's Toto AND Mr. Mister, which is a little heavy on the lite rock. It would be cool next time if he could get a little help from his friends in the psych-pop, power-pop circle.

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576; Twitter: @scottmervis_pg

Set List

Matchbox (Carl Perkins song)

It Don't Come Easy (Ringo Starr)

Island in the Sun (Ringo Starr)

I Saw the Light (Todd Rundgren)

Evil Ways (Willie Bobo)

Rosanna (Toto)

Kyrie (Mr. Mister)

Bang the Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren)

Boys (The Shirelles)

Don't Pass Me By (The Beatles)

Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen


You're Sixteen (Johnny Burnette)

I'm the Greatest (Ringo Starr)

You Are Mine (Richard Page)

Africa (Toto)

Oye como va (Tito Puente)

I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles)

Love Is the Answer (Utopia)

Broken Wings (Mr. Mister)

Hold the Line (Toto)

Photograph (Ringo Starr)

Act Naturally (Buck Owens)

With a Little Help From My Friends (The Beatles)

Give Peace a Chance (Plastic Ono Band)

Ringo took center stage at Heinz Hall Tuesday night, in a fire-engine-red jacket and skull T-shirt, for the Carl Perkins classic "Matchbox," which the drummer did with the Beatles when they were establishing their American R&B roots.
John Heller/Post-Gazette

Ringo Starr Treatment: Beatle Was Fab For Heinz Hall Fans
October 28 2015

Oct. 28--PITTSBURGH -- They showed up for the sole and simple purpose of seeing a Beatle.

Such opportunities are rare, realized the sold-out Heinz Hall turnout Tuesday, especially with the case of Ringo Starr who hadn't played Pittsburgh in 18 years.

The crowd loudly cheered as Starr trotted to a microphone at front and center stage, launching his brisk and enjoyable 25-song performance with "Matchbox," a Carl Perkins' rockabilly song covered by the Beatles.

Starr reminded everyone this was a night for peace, love and fun -- "We didn't show up here to be tortured" he wryly noted to a mixed-age but skewing older crowd before plunging into his first solo hit, "It Don't Come Easy," followed by his and the All-Starrs' new number, the mildly reggae-ish "Island in The Sun."

Starr looking relaxed and fit in a snazzy red jacket, a warm smile frequently emerging between his trademark sunglasses and beard. He flashed peace signs and pointed playfully at fans who caught his eye while sailing through his two-hour set that featured almost all his solo hits (no "No No Song") and nearly all his signature Beatles tunes (no "Octopus's Garden").

Starr generously granted equal time for his well-seasoned All-Starr Band mates to sing and play their regular bands' biggest hits, hence a show that bounced along from "Evil Ways" by Santana (All-Starr keyboardist Gregg Rolie) to "Rosanna" by Toto (guitarist Steve Lukather) to "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister (bassist Richard Page) to a rousing "Bang The Drum All Day" (guitarist Todd Rundgren, who made up for omitting that song from his solo show last year at the Rex Theatre).

Starr's nasally but endearing singing voice hasn't changed much over the decades, and when he wasn't on the mic, he parked himself behind his elevated center-stage drum kit, decorated with a sparkly silver star, and supplied a steady beat lockstep with fellow drummer Gregg Bissonette, formerly of David Lee Roth's band.

Bissonette looked to be having more fun than anybody, with his animated facial expressions and boundless enthusiasm also evident pre-show in the Heinz Hall lobby as he posed for photos with Beaver County rockers the Granati Brothers (he appears on their upcoming album).

Starr's drum tapping brought a subtle jazz undertone to Toto's "Africa" and his singing supplied the proper country-rock flair to "Don't Pass Me By," the first song he had written that the Beatles had recorded.

"Yellow Submarine" was a mid-show treat sparking a richly deserved sing-along.

Rolie resumed lead vocals on Santana's "Black Magic Woman," as Starr took a quick breather offstage. Lukather reached deep for those gut-grabbing guitar moments on Toto's "Hold The Line."

Rundgren somewhat creakily sang "Love Is The Answer" by his band Utopia, and Page belted out the ballad "Broken Wings," the night's second Mr. Mister selection, which was at least one too many.

I recall more firepower from the 2001 All-Starr lineup -- Greg Lake, Sheila E, Ian Hunter, Howard Jones and Supertramp's Rodger Hodgson -- when they played Mountaineer Casino in Chester, W.Va. I'm also certain the crowd that night was more lively.

As often the case at Heinz Hall or Benedum Center rock concerts, spectators weren't sure if they should sit or stand, with most of them choosing to sit. But not the annoying couple in front of me, eager to prove their superior fandom by defiantly standing then growing increasingly angry when everyone else ignored their pleas to stand with them.

Let it be.

The concert itself didn't match the nonstop raucous energy or epic aura of Paul McCartney's two stints at Consol Energy Center, though Starr still delivered an entertaining and eminently likable performance Tuesday.

Starr ended with a big bang that included "Photograph," the Beatles' well-known cover of Buck Owens' "Act Naturally" and Starr's standout Fab Four selection "With a Little Help From My Friends" followed by a bit of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." On their feet as one at that point, concertgoers chimed in vocally on those last two songs, knowing they might never get another chance to sing along with a Beatle.

Ringo Starr comes to Pittsburgh


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