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the Pale

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Ringo's All-Starrs, 1999

Beacon, NYC, 16 February 1999: Richard Glar in Village Voice

Starr Struck

The hits just kept a comin last Tuesday when Ringo Starr rolled out this year's edition of his All Starr Band at the Beacon for an unashamed orgy of culturally encoded boomer nostalgia. The former Beatles drummer along with former Procol Harum keyboardist Gary Brooker, former Cream bassist Jack Bruce, former Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, former Utopia guitarist Todd Rundgren and former Peter Gabriel saxophonist Timmy Cappello knocked one well rehearsed chestnut after another out of the ballpark, all for the benefit of some of the tightest ponytails ever assembled under one roof.

I love Ringo. How can you not love Ringo? 'We love you Ringo!' shouted a woman who obviously loved him. 'It's lovely to be loved, Darling,' he replied.

The only thing wrong with Ringo in this particular context was having to listen to a bunch of second rate Ringo songs. I mean, You're 16 and Boys but no Octopus's Garden or Don't Pass Me By? Come on. Only the charmingly jaded Ringo could get away with introducing The No No Song as 'the only reason I'm here tonight,' then end the show with A Little Help From My Friends'

While the overblown greatness of Gary Brooker's A Whiter Shade of Pale and A Salty Dog is indisputable, that of Rundgren's I Saw the Light and his post-70s (!) Bang the Drum All Day is somewhat less a given. Nevertheless less, 'Toddy' (as Ringo referred to him throughout) was the best imaginable guitarist for this ensemble by virtue of his ability to faithfully mimic Robin Trower, George Harrison and Eric Clapton, not to mention his own younger self. The MVP of the All Starrs, however, turned out to be the avuncular Jack Bruce, who, in addition to elevating the overall musical quality, jammed the muscular fuck out of Cream's I Feel Free, Sunshine of Your Love, and White Room alongside wahwahing Toddy. Richard Starkey smiled benevolently down from his drum set, loving every minute of it.

Sent to BtP courtesy of Cerdes and his good friend Ted 'The Grand Vizier of Psychedelia' McCallion: thanks!

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