Ringo Starr & his All Starr Band Liverpool Empire 18 June 2011
I’d been looking forward to this for some time. Its been 13 years since Ringo last toured the UK with his All Starr Band; I remember regretting not going to see them on that tour. Since then Laura and I saw Ringo at the Capital of Culture Opening concert; he sang three songs. So this was my first full scale Ringo concert experience. This visit of Ringo to Liverpool was quite controversial as a result of his comments on the Jonathan Ross show; where he in effect slagged off his home city. I’m sure Ringo wanted to make amends and saw this concert as one way of doing so.
I arrived at Liverpool Empire around 6.30pm and parked up in the Lime Street NCP car park. There were a smattering of Beatles fans waiting outside the stage door for Ringo. The accents around me told me that that the concert was being attended by fans from all over the world; lots of American visitors in evidence. Around 7pm they opened the doors and I joined the queue entering the venue. The Empire is a lovely old theatre with all of the original decor; the last time I was here was to see Alice Cooper on the Welcome to my Nightmare tour (1976?). I buy a programme and pass on getting a signed drum skin (£250 a pop!).
The Ringo set up works like this. Ringo has an “All Starr Band” whose members have some level of stardom in their own right and the show is a combination of Ringo songs, Beatles tracks on which Ringo sang, and songs from the band members (they get to do two each). For this tour the members are Rick Derringer (McCoys; Johnny Winter), Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Richard Page (Mister Mister) and Wally Palmar (Romantics? can’t say I remember them). Looking at some of the past line-ups, there have been stronger versions of the band; past members have included Jack Bruce, Ian Hunter, Gary Brooker, Joe Walsh and others.
I take my seat which is around a dozen rows from the front, giving me a great view of the stage; which is set up with a large star behind the drum kits. It is clear that everyone around me is a massive Beatles fan. A guy in front of me is sporting a tattoo of Paul on one arm; and the Beatles signatures on the other. There are lots of Beatles t-shirts on show. One couple have matching badges (“I Love John” and “I Love Ringo”). There seem to be hardly any scouse accents, and sadly there are some empty seats up in the gods. Did Ringo really upset everyone that much? I guess scousers don’t forgive or forget easily.
Pretty much at 7.30pm on the dot the support act Cayte Webber takes the stage for four songs which are OK and warm the crowd up. Then after a short interval (at around 8.15pm) Ringo joins us to a great reception; everyone is on their feet and cheering. First up is It Don’t Come Easy which sounds great and brings back memories, followed by Honey Don’t from Beatles for Sale and Choose Love (I assume this is a newish Ringo song?). So far so good. Next Rick Derringer takes to the front of stage and leads the band into Hang On Sloop from his band the McCoys; which knocked Yesterday off the No 1 slot in the States in 1965; we all sing along; great. Then Edgar Winter, who is a mad character, and Wally Palmer with a song I don’t recognise (guess it was a hit in the USA). Ringo is back on drums to sing I Wanna Be Your Man (from “that other band I used to be in”). Gary Wright sings Dream Weaver (takes me back to the Frampton Comes Alive tour when he was support act) which he tells us was inspired by Indian text given to him by George Harrison. Richard Page (Mister Mister) gives us Kyrie, which I recognise; a very strong voice; but I’m not too keen on USA AOR.
Ringo tells us “I love Liverpool” on a number of occasions to cheers from the crowd. He introduces The Other Side of Liverpool by pointing out that his Auntie Ev (who is 92!) remembers those days, and that she is in the audience. I look around and see an elderly lady in the row behind me wearing a laminate pass. Then we all sing Yellow Submarine; it doesn’t come much better than this; I’m in Liverpool Empire singing Yellow Submarine with Ringo (and his Auntie Ev singing in the next row!). More follows; with each member getting to do one more song.
Ringo introduces Boys as “a song I used to do with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and I’ve done ever since. I love the song.” They finish with Photograph, With a Little Help from my Friends (more mega singalongs) and a snippet from Give Peace a Chance. Then he’s gone; its 10.15pm and I’m back into the car, up the M6 and across to Scotch Corner (rainy and foggy); back home at 1.15am. A wonderful night that I won’t forget for a long time. Long live Ringo! Peace and Love.
Setlist: It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo); Honey Don’t (Ringo); Choose Love (Ringo); Hang On Sloopy (Rick Derringer); Free Ride (Edgar Winter); Talking In Your Sleep (Wally Palmar); I Wanna Be Your Man (Ringo); Dream Weaver (Gary Wright); Kyrie (Richard Page); The Other Side Of Liverpool (Ringo); Yellow Submarine (Ringo); Frankenstein (Edgar Winter); Peace Dream (Ringo); Back Off Boogaloo (Ringo); What I Like About You (Wally Palmar); Rock N Roll Hootchie Koo (Rick Derringer); Boys (Ringo); My Love Is Alive (Gary Wright); Broken Wings (Richard Page); Photograph (Ringo); Act Naturally (Ringo); With a Little Help From My Friends (Ringo)