Special Report By Monica Sullivan
Every two or three years since 1989, Richard Starkey gets on the telephone and starts calling his friends to see if they want to get together & put a show on the road. "Hey Paul?" Sir Paul is always busy. "Hey George?" George is also busy. "Hey Gary? Hey Joe? Hey Peter? Hey Todd?" Gary Booker, Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton & Todd Rundgren say yes when asked. Over the years, the All-Starr Band has evolved into not so much a series of nostalgic exercises as it has into surrealistic introductions to wildly divergent styles in often bizarre settings. In addition to amphitheatres like Shoreline & the Pavilion at Concord, sometimes the All-Starr Band plays a theme park or a high school auditorium. When that happens, the press teases the Band without mercy. But the Band never seems to mind & they always appear to be having a good time. The audience (a mixed group with a wide age range) has fun whether they're in a reserved seat or on the lawn. When the security guards get overly vigilant, Ringo Starr scolds them for unnecessary roughness, "Not at MY concert.
After many years of repeated requests from fans, the All-Starr Band now includes a rock goddess: Sheila E. Her vibrant presence changes the entire atmosphere of the show. The other rockers are a motley group: Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople is the oldest at 62, but he looks younger than some of his bandmates. Greg Lake, 52, looks more like a former linebacker than a member. of King Crimson & Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but his range & phrasing remain clear & powerful. Howard Jones, 45, arrives complete with loyal new age fans who stayed chained to his music throughout the eighties. If any of these guys are chain smokers, it certainly isn't reflected in their ability to reach & sustain notes at either end of the spectrum, especially Roger Hodgson, 51. In her happier days, before her dreary existence as the Princess of Wales, the young Diana Spencer was a huge fan of Hodgson & his Supertramp band mates, listening to DREAMER & BREAKFAST IN AMERICA over & over again, even more than her other favorites by the Dire Straits, Kid Creole, Genesis & Spandau Ballet.
And the leader of the All-Starr Band? He's recorded a new song with easily remembered lyrics, he always says "God rest his soul" when he sings the number that John Lennon wrote especially for him in 1975 and instead of going offstage & returning for the encore, he hangs out ONstage & basks in the audience's affection until he does that encore anyway. Sheila E. passes out drumsticks to front row fans & winds up in the mosh pit along with Ian Hunter. 37 years after his first concert in America, Ringo Starr is still enjoying himself with the least pretentious of messages for his fans: All he seems to want is for everyone else to enjoy themselves, too.
© 2001 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 9/5/01
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