Music Review

It still comes easy to Ringo and pals

Ringo Starr was a buoyant ringleader for his stable of stars. Ringo Starr was a buoyant ringleader for his stable of stars. (John Bohn/Globe Staff)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / June 27, 2008

Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe

Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band shows are like a dinner party. The amiable Beatles legend invites a few friends over and, with hope, the mood is lively, awkward lulls are avoided, and everyone goes home happy and hoping to do it again some time.

Wednesday night at the Bank of America Pavilion, all points on the checklist were dispatched with ebullience by Starr and the 10th edition of his All-Starrs.

In addition to forming a pick-up band to back Starr's Beatles' and solo tunes, Colin Hay of Men at Work, Billy Squier, Gary Wright, Edgar Winter, and Hamish Stuart of the Average White Band all got a few moments to shine.

Although Starr often manned the kit under his shiny silver-and-blue backdrop of - what else - stars, session drummer extraordinaire Gregg Bissonette also held down the beat.

Five All-Starrs meant a little less Ringo this time out. ("Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden" were no shows). But there was no shortage of mirth.

Thrusting peace signs in the air, swinging his hips, and joking between songs, Starr looked fit and seemed cheerful as ever. He would roll through a few of his genial gems such as "It Don't Come Easy," "What Goes On," and "Act Naturally" and then let his sidemen take over, happy to bop along behind his kit or take a break offstage.

Peaks for the crowd came during sing-alongs of "Yellow Submarine" and "With a Little Help From My Friends." He alluded to his three most famous friends on the nostalgic new tune "Liverpool 8."

Each of the All-Starrs was in fine form hitting the old high notes and squeezing out the big licks on their two or three big hits.

The segues were often a tad surreal, however. It felt a little like switching between late-night infomercials for records with titles such as "Freedom Rock," "Totally '80s," or " '70s Jams."

Keyboardist-saxophonist Winter urged the crowd to take a "Free Ride," and then guitarist Hay invited them to the land "Down Under" and bassist Stuart got them boogieing to "Pick Up the Pieces."

Wright brought the pixie dust for his light-FM staple "Dream Weaver," the title of which was inspired by a book of Indian poems that was given to him by George Harrison.

As lead guitarist, Massachusetts native Billy Squier, wearing a Red Sox T-shirt, got a little more exposure than the rest, acquitting himself neatly on his bandmates' tunes and tearing it up on his own hits "The Stroke," "Lonely Is the Night," and a strong acoustic take on "In the Dark."

Starr turns 68 on July 7 and he expressed the wish that at noon on that day people stop and simply say "peace and love." In that vein he capped the two-hour and 20-minute show with a few choruses of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance."

Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band

At: the Bank of America Pavilion, Wednesday night

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