| RINGO STARR & THE ALL-STARR
The Fabulous Fox
St. Louis, MO
August 21, 2001
It was a special night for Beatles fans in St. Louis. Although he didn't make any mention of the fact during the show, it was 35 years ago--to the day--that Ringo and "that other band" played here in the rain at Busch Stadium. This time out, Ringo came to town with his latest edition of the All Starr Band--Greg Lake (Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Asia) on bass, acoustic guitar and vocals, Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) on lead guitar, piano and vocals, Howard Jones on keyboards and vocals, Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople) on rhythm guitar, piano and vocals, Sheila E (Prince) on drums, percussion and vocals, and Mark Rivera (Billy Joel) on what seemed like everything but the kitchen sink.
For those who hadn't seen one of these shows before (this was the 7th All Starr tour), Ringo explained how the concept works. "Everybody on stage is a star in their own right. I do a few numbers, then I get on my drums here so I can have fun myself playing with these guys (he corrected his 'guys' faux pas later). And then I come down, I go back, I come down, I go back " The mix of songs from the 60's, 70's and 80's delivered over the next 2 1/2 hours was eclectic to say the least.
The concert began with one of Ringo's biggest solo hits, "Photograph." The band started the song, and Ringo came jogging onstage to a rush of applause. At 61, Ringo looked fit and trim, dancing around and clearly enjoying himself throughout the show. As the song ended, he remarked, "This is a cool old theater," and went right into a bouncy version of "Act Naturally." It was a bit strange to see Greg Lake playing bass on what's essentially a country tune, but he quickly came into his element on the first highlight of the evening--the prog-rock classic, "In the Court of the Crimson King''--complete with the flute interlude, courtesy of Rivera.
The biggest surprise for many in the audience was Roger Hodgson. It's been almost 20 years since he left Supertramp to embark on a far less successful solo career, but his voice hasn't suffered a bit. He still hits the high notes with ease--and holds them. For his first song of the night, he put his guitar down and moved to the electric piano for "The Logical Song." Rivera nailed all the sax lines beautifully. When the song ended, Hodgson grabbed his guitar again, stepped up to the microphone, and said, "When Ringo showed us the list of names; I think we all had the same feeling--how the hell is this going to work?" He laughed and continued, "But I'll tell you what I think we can all agree this has been one of the most fun things we've ever done."
Jones' vocals were spot on for his biggest hit, "No One is To Blame," and the song featured a nice extended ending. This was the high point of the show for Jones. His other songs paled in comparison. Ian Hunter strapped on an electric guitar for his first song of the night, "Cleveland Rocks." Things started out well, but quickly went downhill when he went into the first of several failed attempts by the All Starrs at getting the St. Louis crowd to sing along. Ian, let me give you a little advice. This may be a great idea if you're in Cleveland, but not anywhere else. To make matters worse, he pulled out a piece of paper to try to get people involved by singing "the Rams rock, the Blues rock, the Cardinals rock," etc, then admits "I've never heard of any of them." Bad move, Ian--especially in a major sports town like this one.
Sheila E.'s material didn't fare much better. To her credit, she's an excellent drummer/percussionist, as she demonstrated at various times throughout the show. Unfortunately, her songs fell on deaf ears. Ringo served up a short drum solo during "Love Bizarre," but that was the highlight of the tune. The audience was simply not interested.
Several people in the crowd were shouting out things for Ringo to play. "Whatever you're shouting, I love you too," said Ringo. "I don't care what you say, that's all I ever hear 'Ringo, I love you,' 'Ringo, I love you.'" Hodgson moved to the acoustic guitar for his second song of the evening, "Give a Little Bit." Supertramp has always has a strong fan base here in St. Louis and the crowd wasn't disappointed. Next to Ringo, Hodgson's songs received more applause than anyone's. Rivera again handled the sax solo with ease, while Jones covered the lower harmonies.
"Yellow Submarine" is always a big crowd-pleaser, and this version was no exception. You could tell Ringo was clearly having a blast. Then, in a perfect example of one extreme to the other, everyone but Greg Lake, Howard Jones & Sheila E. left the stage for an interesting attempt at Emerson Lake & Palmer's "Karn Evil 9." You have to give them credit for trying, but the ELP fans in the audience were probably disappointed. Sheila E.'s performance was easily the best of the three, allowing her the first real opportunity to show off her chops on the drums. Jones isn't a bad keyboardist, but he's no Keith Emerson and was clearly out of his league on this one. Lake's vocals aren't what they used to be either; but as long as he's within his range, he's fine. This song was a stretch for him.
After "Karn Evil 9," the rest of the group returned to the stage and launched into three in a row from Ringo's solo catalog--the John Lennon-penned "I'm the Greatest," "The No-No Song," and a particularly funky "Back Off Boogaloo." The latter featured some stellar wah-wah work by Hodgson. Jones stepped back into the spotlight for the aptly titled (for Jones, anyway) "Things Can Only Get Better." Everything was fine until he decided to try to get everyone to sing along. As was the case earlier in the show, the crowd was not interested. To make matters worse, Jones didn't get the hint when no one was singing and kept trying. This was failed sing-along attempt number three. Once Jones finally decided to end the song, Ian Hunter moved over to the piano, quieting things down a bit (translation: bathroom break for most of the crowd) with "I'm Gonna Be Somebody Someday." A much better choice for this crowd would've been "All the Way From Memphis," but no such luck.
The lull in the show continued as Sheila E. came to the front of the stage on a small drum/percussion kit to perform her biggest hit (and the next failed sing-along of the night), "The Glamorous Life." Lake seemed particularly out of place here, playing bass on a dance tune. At the end of the song, Sheila got the chance to show off her talents once again with a spectacular solo. Ringo apparently liked it so much he called her back to play for another three minutes. The crowd was clearly impressed with her talents and seemed to forgive her for trying to get them to sing along earlier.
Once they removed Sheila's drums from the front of the stage, she headed back to her regular kit for Ringo's rocking version of "I Wanna Be Your Man." This was more like it. For ELP's classic, "Lucky Man," Lake switched from bass to acoustic guitar. Well within his vocal range, this was one of the best songs of the night. Hodgson then put down his guitar and went back to the piano for a beautiful rendition of Supertramp's "Take the Long Way Home." Rivera played harmonica and soprano sax on this one, and the band contributed what would be the best harmonies of the evening. Absolutely spectacular.
Now it was time for Hunter to redeem himself for his blunder during "Cleveland Rocks." "All the Young Dudes" was just what the crowd wanted to hear from him, and he pulled it off with flying colors. It was kind of ironic hearing him sing, "My brother's back at home with his Beatles and his Stones, we never got it off that Revolution stuff," but the crowd loved it. After "It Don't Come Easy," Ringo told everyone that this is where they normally run offstage while the audience makes noise for them to come back out. "Well, I'll tell you the truth, it's not a lot of fun hanging out with the band," laughed Ringo. "So we're gonna stand here, but you can still make the noise."
For the first 'encore,' The All Starrs served up the rocker, "Don't Go Where the Road Don't Go," featuring Hodgson's best solo of the night. Sensing the response that most of the sing-alongs received throughout out the evening, Ringo told the crowd before going into "With a Little Help From My Friends" that it was time for another one; adding, "If you don't know the words to this one, you're in the wrong venue." This time, the crowd was more than happy to oblige. Aside from a few lulls here and there, Ringo and the All Starrs' show at the Fox made for a very enjoyable evening.
|© 2001 Steve Marshall|
|All photographs © 2001 Lauren Marshall|