Ringo Starr likes to call his All-Starr Band outings "the 1-800 tour" -- aka, Dial-a Hit. And there are hits aplenty in Starr's latest ensemble of All-Starrs. Indeed, the third show of the troupe's ne

Ringo Starr likes to call his All-Starr Band outings "the 1-800 tour" -- aka, Dial-a Hit. And there are hits aplenty in Starr's latest ensemble of All-Starrs.

Save for Sheila E.'s incongruous but entertaining pop- and dance-oriented numbers ("Love Bizarre" and "Glamorous Life"), the third show of the troupe's new tour most closely resembled a rock radio playlist circa the early 1980s, just before MTV's ascent and when new and older rock artists comfortably co-existed in the AOR world.

Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You" would have been a current hit, perfectly in place with Rod Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" and Edgar Winter's "Free Ride" and "Frankenstein" -- all audience favorites in the All-Starr show.

The Zombies' British Invasion staple "She's Not There" and Starr's passel of Beatles favorites ("Yellow Submarine," "Honey Don't," "Boys," "Act Naturally," "With a Little Help From My Friends") and his solo hits ("It Don't Come Easy," "Photograph"), meanwhile, would rank as acceptable adjuncts.

The result of this alchemy was a crowd-pleasing 135-minute concert that proved the All-Starr concept still a winning one even at this early juncture, when the seven-member group was still putting some of the pieces together. And it also established these All-Starrs as one of Starr's most vocally potent bands, with arrangements that brought the doubled and tripled tracks of the recorded versions of the songs to life on stage.

There were surprises as well. For the first time ever Starr pulled out "What Goes On," his only composition with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Multi-instrumentalist Winter tripped into gospel territory for a solo piano rendition of "Fly Away," then joined Squier -- who distinguished himself as the All-Starrs' guitar hero all night long -- on a bluesy duo rendering of Robert Johnson's "Rambling on My Mind."

And skeptics who questioned Richard Marx's inclusion in the band had to be pleased that he eschewed his myriad ballads in favor of the rock tracks "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Should've Known Better."

The only disappointment, perhaps, was that former Average White Band Hamish Stuart, a late addition in place of Starr collaborator Mark Hudson, was under-used on bass and backing vocals only. And the show's start was so strong ("Everybody Wants You," "Free Ride," "Don't Mean Nothing") that the second half flagged a bit in comparison and needed maybe one more charging rocker to balance the energy.

But the jukebox worth of hits mitigated any of those shortcomings. This time out, Starr -- with a lot of help from his friends -- is doing more than just getting by.

The All-Starr Band set list, including vocalist, featured:

"It Don't Come Easy" (Starr)
"What Goes On" (Starr)
"Honey Don't" (Starr)
"Everybody Wants You" (Squier)
"Free Ride" (Winter)
"Love Bizarre" (Sheila E.)
"Boys" (Starr)
"Don't Mean Nothing" (Marx)
"She's Not There" (Argent)
"Never Without You" (Starr)
"Yellow Submarine" (Starr)
"Fly Away" (Winter, solo)
"Rambling on My Mind"(Squier and Winter)
"Frankenstein" (instrumental)
"Choose Love" (Starr)
"Should Have Known Better" (Marx)
"Glamorous Life" (Sheila E.)
"I Wanna Be Your Man" (Starr)
"Rock Me Tonight" (Squier)
"Hold Your Head Up" (Argent)
"Act Naturally" (Starr)
"Memphis in Your Mind" (Starr)
"A Little Help From My Friends" (Starr)

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print