In the crowd were former All Starr alums Felix Cavaliere (Rascals/Ringo '95), Richard Marx (Ringo '06) and Joe Walsh (Eagles,Ringo '89 '92). Also in the crowd were Country Stars Brad Paisley, Rodney Crowell, Kix Brooks and Vince Gill. It was a very long day for all as there was a special birthday celebration that started at 11 a.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown Nashville. That would make it a very early call for everyone as they had just played the night before in Atlanta.
The 2012 edition of Ringo's All Starrs consists of Steve Lukather (Toto g/v), Richard Page (Mr. Mister b/v), Greg Rolie (Journey/Santana k/v) and Todd Rundgren (g/v harmonica) backed by longtime Ringo Starr All Starr Band MD Mark Rivera (sax,v) and Greg Bissonette (d). The Ryman, built in 1892 and site of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974 was the perfect location for this magical evening. There was a further feeling of magic while you were sitting in the pews that served as seating. During the show Luke said "this is the best summer vacation I've ever had! Some of these guys, I have been friends with for years and some are new friends. Now we are all friends." He thanked Ringo and said "the reason I play guitar is because of the Beatles."
The smile on Luke's face grew even bigger while special surprise guest, Eagle and friend Joe Walsh came out to a roaring ovation. Luke's elation to watching his buddy Walsh play was beyond description. It became a real family affair as Walsh is Ringo's brother in law. Joe's solo signature song "Rocky Mountain Way" brought the house down. Walsh showcased the talking box guitar on this number. Luke showcased his guitar skills especially on the Santana numbers "Black Magic Woman"," Evil Ways" and "Everybody's Everything". Rolie who was the original singer on the Santana classics jammed back and forth with Luke as his fingers were lightning quick across the ivories. Luke and Rolie not only exchanged musical notes they exchanged smiles as those numbers once again brought huge ovations from those in attendance, Luke's subtle then blistering work on the Mr. Mister smash "Broken Wings" showed that Luke's work is just as epic whether his fingers are flying or whether he tones it down. Luke was his usual spectacular self while playing the Toto songs "Africa", "Rosanna" and "Hold the Line". In front of the jam packed standing room only crowd Ringo said about Luke "I love this man. I love his songs, I love this whole band"! The night's atendees should have considered themselves lucky seeing the show up close in the most intimate venue on the Tour. Almost every song was immediately recognized by the crowd. Ringo even broke out "Anthem" from his appropiatley titled new release "Ringo 2012".
I did have a chance to talk to some of the All Starrs on various subjects. Richard Page talking to me about Luke said "I love playing with Luke. We've known each other for so long. We've never really gotten to play with each other. I've always wanted to play with him. I did sing some on his new album." When I asked Richard about singing the Toto songs he said "those songs are all great songs. Some of those parts are really high so Mark Rivera sings those parts. But everyone in this band can sing."
Rivera told me "I don't know if Luke knows this but I love and respect him tremendously." About the Tour he said "this is like 5 concerts in one! With all the best songs."
Todd Rundgren looking ahead to the end of the Tour said when I told him I was going to the last show: "the Greek Theater show will be bittersweet. We ALL want to keep playing. This group of guys are great! From the very beginning there were no agendas or egos. Sometimes you get people who have to overcompensate. Not with this group."
Vince Gill told me "The best concerts I've EVER seen are the Paul McCartney shows. I've seen him twice and this show was right up there with those! I watched this show from the soundboard and it sounded great. They do an amazing job here. They're the best here. This was the best bottom end sound I've ever heard." Luke was standing next to Vince when he said this and about Vince's comments "If ANYBODY would know what they're talking about here it would be Vince!"
Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill & Steve Lukather
I asked Luke what it was like turning around while on stage during the Toto songs having Ringo playing drums on those songs? Luke said "it was surreal the first few shows. I couldn't believe it! I turned around and there was RINGO! We've done about twenty shows now so it's starting to sink in."
What stood out most with this edition of the All Starrs was the vocals. Each All Starr is a powerhouse vocalist. Add bandleader and muso extraordinare, Mark Rivera to the mix and the vocals were off the charts. This was never more evident than on the amazing versions of the two smash Toto hits "Rosanna" and "Africa". Ringo was the perfect host to a fantastic show. If you were to use one word to describe the night it would be fun. Ringo's sense of humor and storytelling ability made the night fly by. The crowd was filled with people from the ages of 8 to 80. Even the 11 year old boy sitting next to me was singing the words to "Yellow Submarine". The amazing evening was capped off with a celebrity choir on "With a Little Help From My Friends". Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Kix Brooks, Felix Cavaliere, Joe Walsh and Gary Burr among others joined in a fantastic ending in celebration of Ringo. The choice to film this specific show at the Ryman for a DVD was a wise one. It was Ringo Starr's All Starr Birthday Bash. A night that will not be forgotten.
Stevelukather.com, July 7th 2012