Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ringo Starr, Rome’s Auditorium July 4th, 2011

So what more can possibly be said about a man who’s been playing music now for the last 50+ years (he began playing with a band called “Rory Storm and The Hurricanes” way back in 1960 in Hamburg, Germany)? Not much actually. The man in question? None other than the great and forever loveable Richard Starkey, better know to the entire world as Ringo Starr!

After a mere 46-year absence from Rome (he last played there with his three chums at the Adriano Cinema), the charismatic drummer of perhaps the world’s greatest band, The Beatles, arrived with his “All-Starr Band” (note the play on words!), a group made up of six great musicians who once were also at the top of their careers, such as the dynamic guitarist Rick Derringer (anyone still remember “Hang On Sloopy” and “Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo”?), a certain Edgar Winter, yes, the albino brother of that other famous Winter, Johnny, Gary Wright (remember “Dreamweaver”? He wrote it when he went with Harrison to India) and bass guitarist Richard Page of the 1980s group Mr. Mister (of “Broken Wings” fame).

At 9 pm sharp and in front of a full-house in Rome’s Auditorium outdoor stage Ringo got things warmed up with “It Don’t Come Easy” and followed up with an old Carl Perkins country-style song which he used to sing with The Beatles, “Honey Don’t”. In between his songs Ringo would take to his historic Ludwig drum set and let his band take over with their own former great hits. And there the fun would continue with the likes of Winter playing his portable synthesizer keyboard (as he himself said, “I was the first musician to carry a synthesizer around on stage”!) on such great 1970s hits as “Free Ride” and the instrumental piece “Frankenstein” (a no. 1 hit in the U.S. for Winter in 1972!). Again Ringo then joined the stage with unforgettable hits such as “Photograph” (co-written with George), “Yellow Submarine” (you’re correspondent’s first-ever LP, which was bought by his mother, was “Yellow Submarine” just after it was released!), “I Wanna Be Your Man” (1963), “With A Little Help From My Friends” and some tunes from his more recent albums.

And how was Mr. Starkey? Slim and indeed in great shape for someone who just turned 71 on July 7th! Always the comedian too as he’d play along with the crowd as they’d shout out his name “Ringo”! He’d shout back to them with a big laugh by saying, “Yup, that’s my name”! And you’re NEVER too old for The Beatles as there were people of ALL ages there, including kids sporting Beatles’s t-shirts who weren’t even born when Ringo and Co. split up!

Ringo’s own personal trademark has become the peace sign with both hands. His last encore after a nearly 2-hour show was a touching homage to his old mate, the late, great John Lennon: “Give Peace A Chance”. Indeed a magical finale to a wonderful and entertaining evening for this fabulous artist who together with John, Paul and George not only touched the hearts of millions and millions of people worldwide but also helped change the face of modern music, perhaps forever (including me, who at not even the official age of 5, STILL to this day remembers when he saw for the very first time Ringo and his three mates appear on the Ed Sullivan show in America in February 9th, 1964!).

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