‘Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band’ at Wolf Trap

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Talk about adding to your own personal bucket list! Last night at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, a huge audience “got by with a little help from my friends” as Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band got together as one big company of harmony and music.

Ringo Starr. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Ringo Starr. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

The band’s current lineup featuresmusical luminaries Steve Lukather (Toto), Todd Rundgren (Utopia), Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Mark Rivera (Billy Joel), and Gregg Bissonette (Toto, Don Henley). Since 1989, Starr has been at the forefront of the All-Starr Band, drawing from a cornucopia of rock’s best musicians–each of who has their own legendary musical pedigree—and who play to an allegiance of adoring fans all over the globe. This current ensemble definitely shows no signs of slowing down or stopping…it’s not in their DNA!

These seven extraordinarily talented musicians, songwriters and singers shared-and returned-for each other during the show, blending seamlessly from their band mates’ hits to covering their own catalogs. Starr covered music from his days with the Fab Four (“Yellow Submarine,” “I Wanna be Your Man”, “Don’t Pass Me By,” and “It Don’t Come Easy”), including solo hit “Photograph,” and the more recent, “Anthem.” His repertoire also included some channeling of blues music legend Carl Perkins,

Starr shared the spotlight while also treating us to some magical time on the drums, accompanying each musician as they played their hits spanning 40 years of rock genre. Rundgren’s vocal clarity was amazing as always on “I Saw the Light,” “Love is the Answer,” and the perpetually upbeat “Bang on the Drum All Day.”  The ever-agile Rundgren ran from one side of the stage to the other playing and hitting notes that defy gravity, all while showing he’s still very much on top of his game.

We were treated to some excellent guitar play from Steve Lukather, whose riffs on Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” “Evil Ways” and “Oye Como Va” mesmerized and wowed the audience, hearkening back to days of Santana at Woodstock, with Gregg Rolie kicking it on the vocals and some really wicked keyboard. Lukather’s covers of Toto’s “Rosanna,” “Africa” and “Hold the Line” brought me back to beach days where the lyrics came instantly to my present memory, as though I never left my…ahem…twenties.

Richard Page’s journey on “Kyrie” and “Broken Wing” gave me the shivers, and I swear his voice has not changed at all since Mr. Mister. He also debuted current music and acknowledged Starr’s graciousness.  Ringo mentioned during Page’s set that his friend is in need of a new “gig.”   Someone in the industry better take heed and snatch up this amazingly talented guy before somebody else does!

Mark Rivera is an extraordinary musician and vocalist who lent beautiful harmonies to the evening, along with some killer play on sax, piano and percussion. He definitely wasn’t shy about coming to the front of the stage as he wailed sax on Starr’s “Photograph” and Santana’s “Oye Como Va.”

Gregg Bisonnette, a completely over-the-top drummer whose charismatic timing and effervescent smile kept the night in a complete groove, shared frequent space with Starr. Bisonnette’s drumming, in a word, knocked this night out of the park!

RINGO STARR and his ALL STARR BAND 2014 l to r: Richard Page, Todd Rundgren, Ringo Starr, Steve Lukather, Gregg Rolie, Gregg Bissonette. Photo by Rob Shanahan.
RINGO STARR and his ALL STARR BAND 2014 (L to R): Richard Page, Todd Rundgren, Ringo Starr, Steve Lukather, Gregg Rolie, and Gregg Bissonette. Photo by Rob Shanahan.

Concluding the evening was Starr’s tribute to John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” This song summed up Starr’s message throughout the night: peace and love. Whether you grew up listening to the music of these musicians or are fairly new to it, the performance gave all the generations in attendance a chance to hear quintessential rock in its best, purest form. As Ringo quoted, “As long as I can hold a pair of sticks, I don’t have to retire—The only thing that will ever stop us is if we stop.  That’s how it is.”

Amen, and pass the vinyl!

Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes, with one intermission.

Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band played Thursday, June 12, 2014 at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center — 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA. For tickets to future events check their calendar of events.