2016-11-23 / On the Town

Yep, Ringo gets by with help from his friends

CONCERT REVIEW /// Ringo Starr
By Cary Ginell


LIVERPOOL LEGEND—Ringo Starr, still spry and youthful-looking at 76, thrilled fans at a recent gig in Thousand Oaks. LIVERPOOL LEGEND—Ringo Starr, still spry and youthful-looking at 76, thrilled fans at a recent gig in Thousand Oaks. Whether 8 or 80, everyone should see a Beatle once in their life. With John Lennon and George Harrison long gone, that leaves Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

The latter made an appearance Nov. 11 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza’s Fred Kavli Theatre with his latest assemblage of geezer rockers known as the All-Starr Band.

The group thrilled an enthusiastic capacity crowd of aging baby boomers and younger fans eager to see a Beatle in the flesh.

At 76, Starr is far more spry and youthful-looking than his much younger band mates. Bounding from his drum set to the stage and leading the fans in jumping jacks, Starr remains an endearingly awkward performer; he is comfortable and in his element only when behind the drums.

When he comes out front, his stage presence is limited to flashing peace signs and shifting his weight back and forth from one foot to the other. But Ringo remains Ringo, and his fans were ecstatic to sing along with such favorites as “Yellow Submarine” (recorded a half-century ago), “It Don’t Come Easy” and “You’re Sixteen.”

What Starr has never done in his shows, which have been going on since 1989, is perform any Beatle songs on which he wasn’t the lead vocalist, the only real disappointment of the show.

Unlike McCartney, who regales his audiences with rich anecdotes about his career, Starr prefers to keep talk to a minimum and let the All-Starrs play.

This particular unit first assembled in 2010. Despite performing basically the same show wherever they go, the band members appear to genuinely like one another and have fun bouncing around on the stage like kids.

Starr has always been generous with his time in these concerts, allowing his bandmates, all veterans of the rock ’n’ roll wars, to be featured playing and singing their signature songs as close to their recorded versions as possible.

The most enthusiastic response went to hits led by Santana keyboardist/lead singer Gregg Rolie (“Evil Ways,” “Oye Como Va”) and Toto lead guitarist Steve Lukather (“Rosanna,” “Africa”), with Lukather wowing the crowd with blistering, albeit annoyingly self-indulgent, guitar solos played at the edge of the stage.

Todd Rundgren (“Love Is the Answer,” “Bang the Drum All Day”) was probably the most animated of the bunch and delivered the night’s best line.

The results of the presidential election were still fresh on everyone’s minds Friday night, and Rundgren, a longtime political activist, introduced his 1972 hit “I Saw the Light” by innocently asking the audience, “This is our first gig back on the mainland in a while. Anything happen while we were gone? Anything horrible happen?” to the delight of many in the audience.

Richard Page, bassist and lead singer for the ’80s group Mr. Mister, was featured on “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings” and clearly had the best-preserved voice of the bunch.

Rounding out the group were Warren Ham (Bloodrock/Kansas), playing reeds and percussion, and a local favorite, Westlake Village drummer Gregg Bissonette.

During the obligatory “With a Little Help From My Friends” finale, the band was augmented by cameo appearances from the Eagles’ Joe Walsh (an original 1989 All-Starr) and current Mc- Cartney lead guitarist Rusty Anderson, both gathering around microphones to sing the chorus and then launch into John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance,” sending everyone home with tie-dyed memories of a night in rock ’n’ roll heaven.

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