What: Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band
When: Tonight, 8 p.m.
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre
Tickets: $57.50, $77.50, $97.50 and $147.50 in person at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre box office (1925 Blanshard St.), by phone at 250-220-7777 or in person at selectyourtickets.com
For more than a quarter-century, Ringo Starr has been getting by with a little help from his friends.
Starr, the former Beatles drummer, has parlayed his celebrity and musical reputation into a thriving career as a bandleader, one whose regular tours with his All-Starr Band have brought his catalogue of music, both on his own and with the Beatles, along with music of his rotating bandmates, to a new generation of fans.
He has done so since 1989 with a unique guest-musician concept. The touring band Starr is bringing to Victoria tonight features guests Steve Lukather (Toto), Gregg Rolie (Journey, Santana), Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and Todd Rundgren, among others. They fill in the spaces on the setlist between Starr’s solo hits and Beatles material.
“It can get hard, the travelling,” Starr said in an interview with Rolling Stone, of the pace he keeps with his current bandmates. “But we get those two hours of bliss and that’s great. That’s what keeps us going. I love to be out there, and it’s just what I do.”
There is much music to cull from. His tenure with the Fab Four saw him sing lead on various songs, including Yellow Submarine, Act Naturally and With a Little Help From My Friends — all of which he will play tonight during his first Victoria appearance (strangely, Octopus’s Garden — another Starr-sung Beatles classic — has not been heard during a Starr concert since 2005.)
But with an expected 21Ú2-hour runtime, and nearly 30 songs in the setlist, Starr is going to be counted on to produce more than simply a handful of household hits.
He will get by admirably, with ample help from his personality. Starr is one of the most likable people in music — from this or any other generation — so for most fans, simply being in a room with the former Beatle is incentive enough. But despite his easygoing ways, there is more to Starr the solo artist than most imagine. On his own, Starr notched two No. 1 singles in the U.S. with Photograph (1973) and You’re Sixteen (1974). He has more Top 10 singles as a solo artist than his former bandmate, George Harrison, and, believe it or not, notched the same number of No. 1 solo hits as John Lennon.
On almost every best-drummer list imaginable, Starr sits inside the Top 10, contradicting the common misconception that he is the least talented Beatle. The drumming community knows differently: Some pundits consider Starr the most valuable drummer ever, both for his rock-steady skills and the peacekeeping role he played in solidifying the bickering Beatles at their most fractured. Without him as a buoyant force, it is widely believed, Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970) might never have existed.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Beatles in 1988, and was inducted for a second time (as a solo artist) in 2015, making him one of just 21 performers with a double-induction.
Then there is Ringo the peace-loving philanthropist. He is rarely seen not flashing a peace sign, which has become his unofficial trademark. He closes his concerts with Give Peace a Chance, a fitting finale.
His tour with the All-Starr Band will continue Saturday in Vancouver with a show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. A schedule of dates takes them through Canada and the U.S. until Oct. 31, at which point Starr will go home to Los Angeles. He will then mount yet another tour, and continue his winning ways in support of Postcards From Paradise, his 18th solo album.
“I’m playing, that’s what I do,” Starr, 75, said in an interview with PBS this month. “That is the love of my life. We get up night after night and we play and we perform. We entertain. We do what we love to do. No one gets it better than that.”
RINGO'S ALL-STARR BAND
Steve Lukather (guitar, vocals). The popular prog-rock guitarist and Toto co-founder has netted 12 Grammy Award nominations over his lengthy career, thanks to appearances on more than 1,500 recordings. Lukather is expected to handle vocal duties tonight on three Toto hits, Rosanna, Africa and Hold the Line.
Gregg Rolie (keyboards, vocals). Rolie, who left as the singer of Journey upon Steve Perry’s arrival, earned his keep years before as the singer in Santana, for which he was entered into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. He plays a key role in the All-Starr Band and will handle lead vocals on versions of Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va and Evil Ways.
Todd Rundgren (guitar, bass, vocals). Rundgren has been both a successful solo artist and bandleader, two aspects of his career he uses with Starr and Co. Expect to hear Rundgren’s solo hits, I Saw the Light and Bang the Drum All Day, in addition to Love Is the Answer from his days with Utopia.
Richard Page (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals). It was Page’s pristine tenor that graced songs by the chart-topping Mr. Mister, a 1980s pop band that scored big with Broken Wings and Kyrie — two huge hits that Page will be called upon to sing tonight. He also sings lead on his 2010 solo single, You Are Mine.
Warren Ham (saxophone, harmonica, flute, vocals). Though he is the least-known member of the All-Starr Band, Ham has a resumé that includes membership in early-1970s hard rockers Bloodrock and saxophone/harmonica credits on recordings by Kansas, Donna Summer and Olivia Newton-John.
Gregg Bissonette (drums). During the video explosion of the mid-1980s, Bissonette was identifiable as the big-haired timekeeper for David Lee Roth’s solo albums. A well-respected drummer, he has been with Starr since 2003. When Ringo sings, it’s Bissonette behind the drums.