Beacon Theatre, New York, 17 February 1999
They dressed as though they were channel-surfing, instead of
playing to a packed theater on Manhattan’s trendy West Side.
From Jack Bruce’s red leisure shirt, dark jogging-pants and
sneakers, to Todd Rundgren's psychedelic flared pants, clashing
pants and clogs, this group looked more like it was ready to jam
in somebody’s garage, rather than being the distinguished
Ringo’s All-Starr Band.
The elegant exception to the evening’s dress code was our own Gary Brooker, who for the occasion wore a purple blazer, dark pants and shined dress shoes. The look on this dapper John Steed of rock was topped off now and again by a cap that matched his jacket, the lapel of which was embellished with a jewelled brooch in the shape of a keynote.
This was not a fashion show, however, it was a rock show and there was plenty of that as these giants of pop shared the stage on February 16 and 17 at the Beacon Theater. Ringo (black riding jacket and sneakers) performed some of his and the Beatles’ best known numbers including Act Naturally (given a curious Christmas twist by the addition jingling bells), Yellow Submarine, I Want to be Your Man, You’re Sixteen, and Love Me Do.
Gary rocked the audience into submission early in the show with a rollicking version of Whisky Train, with the familiar bluesy 'Hey bartender, pour me a gin…' introduction, which was introduced in the 1990s (at least, that is when I first heard it). The Train was driven by a double set of drums, courtesy of Ringo, backed by Bad Company’s Simon Kirke (white undershirt and pants).
The audience was also treated to a superior rendition of A Salty Dog, during which the band gelled together marvelously, with kudos to Rundgren (lead guitar) and Kirke (drums) for their attention to the special nuances and flourishes of the song.
A Salty Dog followed an excellent and moving Theme
from an Imaginary Western, sung solo by Bruce on piano.
Bruce, in fine form all evening, dedicated the song to Felix
Pappalardi, who performed the tune with rock group Mountain. The
song was one of the high points of the evening, holding the
usually raucous audience in silence for the duration. The
talented Bruce brought back to life Sunshine of Your Love
and White Room, one of a number of songs on which Gary
played the Hammond organ (another song was Rundgren’s I
Don’t Wanna Work). This is the first time I have seen
Gary take Matthew Fisher’s seat on stage.
The last Procol Harum song of the evening was A Whiter Shade of Pale (why is that it the uninitiated always recognize this song at 'skipped the light fandango' and not at its signature organ introduction?). The crowd called out for 'more' at the appropriate juncture in the tune. Tim Capello (tank top and silver trousers), who earlier in the evening played saxophone and a variety of percussion, played the Hammond organ on the song. After the standing ovation, I believe I heard Ringo refer to AWSoP as an anthem, an obvious conclusion since the audience sang along as though AWSoP was The Star-Spangled Banner or God Save the Queen.
Ringo Starr's all new (February 2000) 3CD box Anthology And 10 Year Anniversary includes four All Star recordings featuring Gary Brooker. See details and order from Amazon here.
You can also order the video from the 1997 All Star tour from Amazon by following this link
More Ringo / Gary dates