CONCERT REVIEW: When we need it most, Ringo Starr brings ‘peace and love’ to Wilkes-Barre
Starr, now 75 and still fit as a fiddle, brought back loads of memories for the sold-out crowd as he sang his solo hits and Beatles classics, while his All-Starr group chipped in with the hits of Santana, Toto, Todd Rundgren, and Mr. Mister.
Dressed in a red sport coat over a black t-shirt and black pants, Starr bounded to center stage to kick off the show with “Matchbox,” the Carl Perkins song he recorded with The Beatles in 1964.
“Thank you! Thank you! Oh my goodness! Good evening!” Starr shouted, trying to be heard over the raucous crowd. “Are you ready to have some fun? Are you ready for some good music?”
The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee then sang “It Don’t Come Easy,” his first solo hit from 1971.
“Thank you! Thank you! I love it here already!” he said following the second number, then continued with the only song written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Richard Starkey (Ringo’s real name) – 1965’s “What Goes On.”
Starr then took his familiar place behind the drums as Rundgren took center stage for his 1972 hit “I Saw the Light.”
“Hey, Keystone Staters,” the Philadelphia native said following his tune. “This is the biggest lovefest you’re going to experience all summer, possibly all year.”
He then turned the microphone over to Gregg Rolie, a founding member of both Santana and Journey. “We did this one at Woodstock, and we did it at Bethel Woods with Ringo,” he said as he started Santana’s arrangement of “Evil Ways.”
Steve Lukather, guitarist with Toto, followed with his band’s “Rosanna,” then Mr. Mister’s Richard Page carried on with his group’s “Kyrie.”
Then Rundgren was back at center stage, this time with some drums.
“No, it’s not what you think,” he joked as he started to sing his hit “Hello It’s Me.”
“Hmm, that sounded better at sound check, let’s try the other one,” he said as Rolie’s organ played the familiar intro to Rundgren’s 1983 hit “Bang the Drum All Day.”
Starr, still playing the drums, then took lead vocals on “Boys,” the Shirelles’ song he did on The Beatles’ first album.
He then played the opening verse of “Don’t Pass Me By” from “The White Album” on the keyboards before leaping to center stage to finish the tune.
“If you don’t know this song, you’re in the wrong venue,” Starr said as he started a massive sing-along on “Yellow Submarine.”
“And now here’s a magical musical moment, this time courtesy of Gregg Rolie,” he said while introducing his fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer for Santana’s version of “Black Magic Woman.”
Starr continued with his solo hit “You’re Sixteen” and “I’m the Greatest,” an amusing, somewhat biographical song Lennon wrote for Ringo in 1973.
Lukather, who played some wicked guitar all evening long, especially on the Santana songs, took the lead for Toto’s “Africa” and later for “Hold the Line.”
Page contributed a nice tune called “You Are Mine” and the Mr. Mister hit “Broken Wings,” while Rolie took the lead on Santana’s version of “Oye Como Va.”
Rundgren dedicated his third tune to Orlando as he sang a great version of his band Utopia’s “Love Is the Answer.”
Starr then took the show down the homestretch with a gorgeous version of his chart-topper “Photograph,” followed by “Act Naturally,” the Buck Owens tune he recorded with The Beatles in 1965.
He then led the crowd for one last sing-along on “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
“I want to thank you for being a wonderful audience. Peace and love. I love you all. Thank you, good night!” he said, leaving the stage as the band finished the song and went right into Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.”
Starr re-emerged, threw a few things into the crowd, including the towel he used to wipe his brow, and thanked the audience again before joining his bandmates on the Lennon anthem.
The 12th version of the All-Starr Band, which has been playing together since 2012, was rounded out by saxophonist/keyboardist Warren Ham and drummer Gregg Bissonette.
Starr was in the area once previously as he brought the third set of All Starrs to the now defunct Bud Light Amphitheatre at Harvey’s Lake on July 14, 1995. Joining him that evening were Randy Bachman (Bachman-Turner Overdrive and The Guess Who), Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), Billy Preston, Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals), John Entwistle (The Who), Ringo’s son Zak Starkey on drums, and Mark Rivera on sax.
Photos by Jason Riedmiller Photography