Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band

We took in the first of two shows by Ringo Starr at the historic Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band - May 20, 2023 - Phoenix, AZ

There are a few things that you can always count on when you attend a show by Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band: You'll hear lots of hits, they'll be performed by consummate musicians, and you'll have a chance to sing along to the Beatles' goofy chestnut "Yellow Submarine." These notions proved true as Ringo brought a true group of all-stars together for a sold out performance at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, the vaunted venue in-the-round that has a rotating stage.

The show opened with a cover of Carl Perkins' "Matchbox," a tune that Ringo sang on the 1964 Beatles EP Long Tall Sally before moving into one of Starr's big solo hits, "It Don't Come Easy." Before playing another Beatles song, "What Goes On," Starr noted that the song is the only Beatles cut written by Lennon, McCartney and Starkey (Starr's real last name), quipping "I wanted them to reverse the order of the songwriting credits but they wouldn't go for it." Starr performed all three of the songs as the band front man, singing up front and not playing the drums. Then came the part of the show where the All Starr Band got to take the spotlight. Backing up Starr on this tour are Steve "Luke" Lukather of Toto, Edgar Winter, Hamish Stuart of the Average White Band, Colin Hay of Men at Work, drummer extraordinaire Gregg Bissonette and journeyman multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham who has been a member of Kansas and Toto among many others. First to showcase was Winter, who in his enthusiasm got a little long-winded with his introduction to his hit "Free Ride," causing Ringo, now behind his drum kit, to exclaim, "Play your darn song Edgar!" Before the band played the Toto smash hit "Rosanna" Lukather noted that his early guitar teacher was in the audience; he was surely proud of Luke as he played a sizzling solo during the song that's not heard in the studio version. Lukather's mop of black hair has now aged to white but the ax man's playing is as sharp as ever.

The All Starr picks continued with Stuart spotlighting on the 1975 Average White Band hit "Pick Up the Pieces" and Hay playing Men at Work's "Down Under." After a take on the swinging "Boys," a Shirelles hit that Ringo sang with the Beatles, Starr moved back out to the front of the stage to sing "I'm the Greatest," a cut written just for him by John Lennon. Then, about halfway through the set, the crowd got to show off their singing voices on favorite singalong "Yellow Submarine."

The hits kept rolling during the second half of the show with the All Starrs spotlighting on the Average White Band's "Cut the Cake," Winter's "Frankenstein," Toto hits "Africa" and "Hold the Line" and Men at Work biggies "Overkill" and "Who Can it Be Now." Mixed in were Beatles and solo Ringo cuts "Octopus's Garden," "Back off Boogaloo," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Photograph" and "Act Naturally." Also played were a raved-up take of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" with Winter on vocals and saxophone and a cover of the Isley Brothers funky "Work to Do" where Luke played bass while All Starr bass man Stuart switched to guitar and lead vocals. Other highlights of the show included a drum duel between Ringo and Bissonette, sax and flute work from the versatile Ham and the very appropriate closing number "With a Little Help from My Friends." Besides his six man All Starr band, Ringo had more than 2000 friends in the audience singing along, hanging on every note, and helping the former Beatle spread "peace and love." The adoration was palpable.

Ringo's tour has just started and will continue through mid-June. See all upcoming tour dates here.

Shows coming to Celebrity Theatre include:
June 21 - Graham Nash
July 25 - John Lodge of the Moody Blues
July 27 - Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Aug. 3 - Little Feat with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Aug. 18 - Chicago
Sept. 8 - Buddy Guy with Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
Sept. 30 - George Lopez (2 shows)
Oct. 18 - Celebrating David Bowie
Nov. 14 - REO Speedwagon

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