I did get to chat for a few minutes before the show with Steve Lukather and he was able to share these thoughts with me. "Ringo is not only a childhood hero but now after 2+ years with the All Starrs... he has become a close friend. Someone who I deeply respect and love as a brother. His kindness, soul and passion and the way he lives his life is an example we should ALL follow. I am so greatly honored to be a small part of the 25 year legacy of the All Starrs... I will cherish these times as a highlight not only of my career but of my life. I have made new dear friendships and solidified old ones and this year. The band is on fire as it is a real band now. We truly do love each other and it is so much fun. You can see and hear it. Hoping I get to do more tours with Ringo and the guys. We have October 2014 booked and perhaps down the road we will get another go of it. It is off to Toto world I go with a smile and I am rested happy, healthy and the chops are up. Let's do it! It is a charmed life for real. I cherish every minute of it these days".
All the Starr's were aligned as it was another perfect night at the Greek Theatre. The All Starr Band ran at full throttle, the weather was perfect, the Greek is one of the best venues in the country, the show was sold out, it's in Los Angeles and family and friends were in abundance. The Toto boys David Paich, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams were here to cheer on their mate Steve Lukather. In exactly two weeks from this nights show Toto will start their North American Tour. Also in the crowd were All Starr alums Jim Keltner, Edgar Winter, Jeff Lynne (ELO), actor Joseph Mantegna and Dave Stewart (Eurythmics).
What stood out most to me even more during this show was not only that everyone sings, but they ALL do it at almost peak levels. Richard Page's voice stunned and amazed the crowd especially on the Mr. Mister #1 hits "Kyrie" and "Broken Wings". Luke added riveting, subtle and then blistering guitar to both songs.
More evident to me on this night was the significance of drummer Greg Bissonette's importance. He sometimes gets lost in all of the hoopla surrounding the All Starr's. He is just as much of an All Starr as any of the other peers. Ringo later said "everyone on stage here is an All Starr. We put this Tour together so we could end it all here at the Greek".
The length of time that this band has played together was abundantly apparent as the night rolled on. It was most apparent on the three Greg Rolie led Santana songs "Evil Ways", "Oye Como va" and "Black Magic Woman". Greg and Luke were the dynamic duo on these three powerful numbers. Luke's hands were a blaze as he smoked through these songs. He truly mesmerized the capacity L.A. venue. Luke got the first roar of the night on his solo's on "Evil Ways". Rolie told the crowd that "we were given this song by Bill Graham and we didn't want it. WE WERE WRONG!" The theme "band of brothers" rang in my head throughout the night. The "wall of vocals" was also very prominent throughout the night especially on "Evil Ways". Everyone on the team sang on this number and shined except for Ringo and Bissonette who concentrated solely on their drumming skills. With those five great voices blending together their voices jumped out at you.
Ringo was once again the perfect host. His easy going, comedic demeanor had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Some in the crowd were surprised as they thought of Ringo as just the Beatles drummer. He played drums, keyboards, cajon, sang, joked, made fun of himself and all the other All Starrs. There were a lot of the same qualities at this All Starr Show as there were at the three other shows I saw and reviewed by this same cast of characters. Teamwork came to mind again. Todd Rundgren introduced Luke and let him solo on his Utopia hit "I Saw The Light". There were also many moments of laughter and clowning around with each other on stage. It had a little of that last day of school feel to it. There was laughing, pointing at each other and comedic banter and actions among the All Starrs.
Rundgren even came over to Luke's side of the stage and grabbed him during a song. Luke told me after the show that it was "loose and fun." But his definition of loose and ours may be different. There definitely was some fun going on but there still were some serious mind blowing chops. This was the best Ringo Show with this group that I have seen. Rundgren further joked that this was the "longest continuous act of lovemaking in music history." Others in the group including Ringo and Luke shied away from that statement. Rundgren was full of energy and enthusiasm. His voice still reigns supreme. He also has a different sense of fashion than the average cat. He displayed multi multi colored garb that may have some of those in the front few rows to shade their eyes. Rundgren also played a little bass as he switched instruments on the Page solo song "You Are Mine". Page switched to acoustic guitar along with Luke.
On the Toto hit "Africa" Luke and Page went back and forth on lead vocals. Once again as when the All Starr's played this song at the same venue in 2012 the Toto gang sang along and nodded approval from their seats within the vision of Luke. Page once again proved what a superior talent he is. He is not a household name but with that voice he should be. As soon as he starts singing the Mr. Mister hits there is a roar of approval from the crowd which gets louder as the song goes on.
Signs of brotherhood were there as each All Starr glowingly introducing their band mates. Rolie introduced Luke with "how about this guy here?" Luke said "hello Los Angeles. Hello my Toto brothers" as he pointed directly in front of him. Rosanna was up next as Luke wowed the crowd with his vocals and guitar playing. Luke had vocal help from the gang of Ham, Rolie, Page and Rundgren. Ham also added some brilliant saxaphone which fit in perfectly. Luke cut loose once again on guitar with his biggest fan Rolie smiling and nodding in approval. It wouldn't be a Luke involved Show without some "Luke humor". He introduced his longtime friend Richard Page as "Bruce Jenner's stunt double, pre-op!" He then added "sorry if you're here Bruce". He then stopped himself by saying "my daughter is in the audience." But there are two sides to Luke as at that moment I noticed his guitar strap had Bohdi, Lilly, Trev and Tina on it. A nod to all of his four kids. Luke introduced "Hold the Line" with a dedication to Toto partner David Paich. Although not Toto's biggest hit this slamming number seems to signify Toto above and beyond their #1 hits. This song epitomizes what Toto truly is.
You knew it was the end of the Ringo Show when "With a Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace a Chance a Chance" echoed of the hills. You also know Ringo IS going to get a little help from his friends on this song. All Starr alums Jim Keltner on drums, Jeff Lynne (ELO) and Edgar Winter on vocals jumped up on stage. Also helping on vocals were Ben Harper and Keith Allison (Paul Revere and the Raiders). There just seemed to be something extra special on this night. This was even more special than the last time these same All Starrs played here a couple of years ago. There was more magic in the air and less sadness as this Tour was ending but this group was going to get back together for 14 more Shows in October in the U.S.
I was able to reach out to Steve Porcaro of Toto to get his thoughts on the Ringo gig. Steve told me "there are no words for how proud and tickled I am of my brother Luke watching him play with Ringo last night. Seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show was day one of setting the fire. To see Luke not only holding his own, but bringing to the whole set his amazing gifts."