Frazer Harrison, Getty Images.
Who would have thought that Beatlemania was alive and well in Kettering, Ohio?
I was beyond excited to hear in mid-March that Ringo Starr, the former drummer of the legendary rock band The Beatles, was coming to our quiet suburban town for a show on July 2 at the Fraze Pavilion. Starr would be backed by his “All-Starr” band, featuring rock ‘n’ roll icons such as Todd Rundgren, Richard Page, and many others. Tickets to the concert sold out within hours, and this Beatles fan was lucky enough to get his hands on one.
As the 4,300 fans made their way to their seats, Ringo and his band came out swinging with a cover of Carl Perkins’ Matchbox, followed by two of Starr’s solo hits, It Don’t Come Easy and Wings.
Starr then tucked in behind his drum kit for a series of songs. This pack of songs featured a hit track from every “All-Starr” band member’s respective music careers; songs ranging from Santana to Toto were belted out by the band.
As this portion of the show was captained by the other members of his band, I soon found that Ringo himself was contributing little. Yes, he was playing behind the drums, but his appointed “All-Starr” drummer, Gregg Bissonette, was doing the majority of the drum work.
Just when I started to feel dissatisfied at the lack of contribution and Beatle material (being played to a crowd of fans wearing Beatles T-shirts), Ringo brought the microphone back to his mouth to sing three Beatles tunes in a row. The b-side tracks Boys and Don’t Pass Me By and the ever famous Yellow Submarine greatly pleased the eager audience, including me. The 73-year old Starr then had to take a breather while his band did a fantastic job covering Santana’s Black Magic Woman.
Following a 10-minute jam session by Ringo’s supporting cast, Starr came back out to sing yet another Beatles b-side track and another solo-career song from his latest album, Ringo 2012. Just as the audience was reeled back in, Starr let some slack out by again banishing himself to his drum kit, and the band did another round of hits from their respective careers.
Then, as if someone had hit “replay” on the show’s structure, Starr came back out to center stage to present his solo hit, Photograph, as well as the Beatles rarity, Act Naturally. Feeling the show was coming to a close, I was expecting one more Beatles hit, and did Ringo deliver. Starr and his band finished the night off right with a superb performance of With A Little Help From My Friends from the historic Beatles record, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
At 73 years old, Starr can put on a pretty decent performance … with the help of a great supporting band around him. Labeled “Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band,” I felt like the concert wasn’t controlled by Ringo, but by his bandmates.
If you put a former Beatle’s name on anything, it will attract a crowd, and that’s pretty much what happened at the Fraze this summer. A mass of Beatles fans gathered to get a glimpse of Ringo Starr performing in concert, and we only got to hear four or five Beatles tunes.
The music was great and the performance was great, but I didn’t buy a $45 lawn seat to watch the “All-Starrs” outperform the real star of the show.