Oh, what a night in Temecula! “Now I’m only seventy-two, and all I wanna do…is boogaloo!” legendary artist Ringo Starr sang Thursday night at the Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Of course, the John Lennon-penned lyrics of “I Am The Greatest” originally had the Beatles great singing those words at only 32-years-old, but 40 years later, Ringo is still going strong.
With his All-Starr Band in tow — Todd Rundgren, Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Steve Lukather (Toto), Gregg Rolie (Santana), drummer Gregg Bissonette, and multi-instrumentalist Mark Rivera — Ringo and his mates lit up the stage and packed the Showroom Theater.
From the first three numbers — “Matchbox” (Ringo always loved Carl Perkins), “It Don’t Come Easy” (his 1970 hit single), and “Wings” (off his new CD “Ringo 2012”) — it was easily apparent that the All-Starrs were not merely a hired backing band, but a true band in every sense of the word.
That said, the big difference is that this band came with headliners singing their own hit songs such as Rundgren’s “Bang The Drum All Day” (the crowd really got into this one), Toto’s “Hold The Line,” Santana’s “Evil Ways” and Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings.”
Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band (Photos by Melissa Jewel):
Longtime bandleader Rivera explained the All-Starr band concept best: “It’s like getting five bands in one.”
The group flexed its muscles on numerous extended jams throughout the set, including Toto’s “Africa” and Santana’s version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Black Magic Woman” with each musician grabbing a short but pertinent solo.
It was on the latter cut on which Bissonette truly shined, conjuring the Latin-influenced drumming style of Michael Shrieve, Santana’s original percussionist.
But the main attraction of the evening was indeed the former Beatle, and Ringo didn’t disappoint.
While not a natural frontman (he is a drummer by trade, after-all), Ringo seemed very much at ease being the focal point of much of the show.
“I’d like to do a song I used to do with that other band I used to be in — Rory Storm & The Hurricanes!” chided Ringo before knocking out a rousing version of “Boys,” his lone singing spotlight on the Beatles’ first American tour in 1964.
The beauty of this tour and each of Mr. Starr’s previous summer jaunts is the ability for us fans to finally see an original Beatle sing songs that either we were too young to witness, or that were never performed live when the Beatles stopped touring in 1966. It’s our opportunity to re-live Beatlemania.
“Are your ready to do some singing?” roped-in Ringo before taking the crowd through his two most popular Beatles-era tracks — “Yellow Submarine” and “With A Little Help From My Friends.” The audience was up to the task each time, cascading the theater with their back-up vocals. Everyone knew each lyric.
Experiencing Ringo be, well, Ringo is akin to watching your cool and funny uncle belting out his favorite tunes. His wit and charm shine every time he engages the audience, and while his singing isn’t his strongest attribute, it’s exactly what you expect. He’s as real as they come, and you love him for it.
And tonight, that’s exactly what this Temecula audience wanted.
Ringo and His All-Starr Band will wrap up their 2012 tour with just two more concerts: July 20 at Humphrey’s in San Diego and July 21 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.