Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band• June 13, 2023• Eccles Theater
Reviewed and Photographed by Alisha Gregson
Ringo Starr and His All-Starr band brought their one-of-a-kind show to Utah on Tuesday, June 13th. As a Beatles fan, this is a show I didn’t want to miss. I was excited for the opportunity to attend the sold-out concert at Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theater.
I always feel a little cliché when people ask me who my favorite band is, and my answer is The Beatles. Who doesn’t love the Beatles? They have been my favorite band for as long as I can remember. There’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t listen to at least one of their songs. If you walked into my home, you would see tributes to them in the decorations on my walls. To really prove how much I love them, I also have a custom license plate that is the title of one of my favorite Beatles songs. Cliché or not, they have always been, and will always be my favorite band. Having the opportunity to not only attend, but photograph Ringo Starrs’s concert was an incredible experience.
When I walked into the Eccles Theater, I was surrounded by hundreds of other Beatles fans of all ages. It’s hard to describe the excitement that filled the venue. The energy was unlike any concert I have been to in a long time. Many people were wearing Beatles shirts or 60’s style attire. I even saw one couple wearing sergeant peppers lonely hearts club band costumes.
One guy was wearing an Oasis shirt among all the Beatles T-shirts. I had to approach him and ask him if he knew he was at the wrong venue. Noel Gallagher from the band Oasis was not far, performing his own concert at USANA the very same night. He laughed and said it was a tough decision to make. I myself was disappointed that the concerts were on the same night. While I can’t imagine choosing anything over Ringo, I wish I could have seen Noel as well.
I will be honest and say that the concert wasn’t really what I had imagined. Although I had talked with a friend who was familiar with how the band performs shortly before the concert, he never really told me what I should expect. I’m not a fan of spoilers, so I was OK with that. I was imagining a Beatles-heavy setlist, with Ringo front and center the entire time. Although he was the drummer for the Beatles, he also sang backup vocals, and would usually take the lead on one or two tracks for each album.
I figured we would hear him sing many of the songs he took the lead on, as well as some of the other big hits. And I was positive we would get to hear “Octopus’s Garden,” which was one of only two Beatles songs written solely by Ringo. While I was correct with a couple of my assumptions, the concert didn’t end up being quite as Beatles themed as I imagined.
When Ringo Starr and His All-Starr band stepped out onto the stage, the crowd went crazy. The first three songs went pretty much how I pictured the whole concert would go. Ringo Starr was front and center under the spotlight taking the lead on vocals. They started with “Matchbox,” a Carl Perkins, song that the Beatles covered. Next was “It Don’t Come Easy,” a Ringo Starr original. The third, “What Goes On,” was one that Ringo sang for the Beatles’ rubber soul album. It was the only song that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr wrote together. While the first 15 minutes of the concert were just about what I predicted, everything that came next was a surprise.
There’s a reason why my expectations for the evening were so far off. I was not taking into consideration the other all-stars that were part of Ringo Starr and his All-Starr band. The other members on stage were also incredibly talented musicians from some of the most iconic rock ‘n’ roll bands. Joining the band on guitar and harmonica was one of the most talented vocalists and songwriters from a popular 80’s band. You might be wondering, “Who can it be now?” It was the legendary Colin Hay from Men at Work.
Two members from the band Toto were part of the group as well. Steven Lukather on guitar and bass, and Warren Ham on saxophone, percussion, keyboards, and harmonica. On bass and guitar was Hamish Stewart from the Average White Band. On keyboards, saxophone, and percussion was Edgar Winter from the Edgar Winter Group. And on drums, percussion, and trumpet was Gregg Bissonette.
Although Ringo Starr was the leader of the band, it would be impossible to label just one member as the lead singer. After the first three songs, Ringo made his way to the drums and passed off lead vocal duties to Edgar Winter who lead the band in “Free Ride.” From then on, each of the All-Stars would take a turn under the spotlight as they played through some of the biggest hits from their individual bands.
Having so many talented musicians playing on stage together, each with their history gained by spending a lifetime in the rock n roll world, made this one of the most exciting, and unique concerts I have ever been to. The band members were playful and joked with each other, and the crowd the entire time. The energy remained high all night, as the crowd would anticipate the next song. I loved watching all the reactions, especially when the band played their biggest hits. Certain songs got everyone in the audience on their feet, dancing and singing along. Some of the highlights from the night include their covers of “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now?” by Men at Work, “Africa,” and “Hold the Line” by Toto, and “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles.
I think the crowd reaction that surprised me the most was when they played “Octopus’s Garden”. Another song written by Ringo during his time with The Beatles. I was expecting fans to stand up and go crazy for this one as they did for the other really popular songs, but this one seemed to put the audience in a trance. It felt surreal sitting there in that calm and captivated crowd, listening to Ringo sing, while the audience sang along with every word.
This was a concert, that I wish could have continued all night. I was loving every minute of it. The musicians were very entertaining to watch and seemed to have an endless amount of talent and energy. They finished the show perfectly with an excellent performance of “Help From My Friends” ending with the chorus from John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” After giving Ringo Starr and His All-Starr band, a standing ovation, the crowd made their way out of the Theater. Many fans lined up for merchandise, while others hung around chatting about the show. It was an amazing night and a concert that will be hard to top.