August 23rd, 2001
By Mark Guarino
Daily Herald Music Critic
He’s a TV pitchman, makes shameless Christmas music, stars on a kiddie TV show and gleefully tours with a rotating band of classic rock has-beens.
But he’s also a living Fab. That monumental cultural weight gives Ringo Starr – the most overexposed Beatle – the clout he needs to do anything he wishes and still maintain respect.
The seven incarnation of his “All Starr” band arrived at the Rosemont Theatre Wednesday and was greeted with the expected throng of Beatles super fans. But this tour scraped near the bottom of the rock history barrel and ended up looking more like a support group for hitmakers long surpassed.
Given the disparity of its cast, the band covered genres over four decades. But that didn’t mean they were endurable genres. Take for instance ’70s prog-rock bassist Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer playing next to ’80s synth pop keyboardist Howard Jones. The clash of cultures – especially on Lake’s boorish “In the Court of the Crimson King” and Jones’ wimpy “Things Can Only Get Better” – was more like a collision.
Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter and percussion diva Sheila E. were MVPs for energy, especially alongside Supertramp singer Roger Hodgson and ultraslick sax player Mark Rivera.
But Ringo! Ringo! Ringo! His presence made everything okay because, well, he’s Ringo and he’s an actual living Beatle. He cracked jokes just like the old Ringo, snapped off drum fills like the old Ringo and at 61, he was still the slim, trim, eternal goofball hipster you’d expect.
Although trotting out his forgettable solo hits, he casually led singalongs of “Yellow Submarine” and “With A Little Help from My Friends” as well as early Beatles rave-ups “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Boys.”
Although he shrugged that the Beatles were “that other band I used to be in,” those songs- and his leading of them – were goosebump-worthy and the rare occasion when it was okay to cheer long live nostalgia.