The Beatles broke up when I was two. John Lennon was killed when I was 12. The only tour George Harrison did in my adult life was a brief tour of Japan in 1991. That leaves Paul and Ringo as the two remaining Beatles who regularly perform shows. I've seen Paul McCartney perform at least seven times, but it seems I always missed Ringo when he came through town. There were a variety of reasons -- other plans, tickets sold out before I could get them, etc. So clearly trying to get to one of his shows has been on my list for quite some time. Then a few years ago, Gregg Rolie (formerly of Santana and Journey) joined his All Starr Band, and I got even MORE motivated to try to go to one of his shows. That finally happened Friday night.
I bought the tickets for this show about six months ago with my friend Mary. Between then and now, Mary and her husband moved to Portland, so we had to make some adjustments to our plans for the evening. Mary flew down Friday afternoon and planned to catch CalTrain to Palo Alto where I could easily pick her up from work. She missed her first train, so we wound up getting down to San Jose about 7:00 -- not a whole lot of time to grab dinner before the 8:00 show time. Since I knew we'd have a short window between when we'd arrive in San Jose and the start of the show, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and after we parked the car, Mary and I had a quick dinner in my car. Not exactly the plan, but it would do.
We got into the Civic pretty quickly and found our seats, which were about 10 rows from the stage. Looking around, we were on the younger side of the crowd. There were some kids under 21, presumably at the show with their parents (or possibly grandparents), but for the most part the crowd looked to average around 65. We got settled in and chatted for a bit while we waited for the show to start. The biggest thing I noticed about our seats while we were waiting is that the rows were VERY narrow. You pretty much would have to get out of the row to let people get by to get to/from their seats. It got pretty annoying later once the show started and I wanted to stand up and dance a little.
The show started off about 8:15 with the All Starr Band walking on stage first. I kind of chuckled to myself as Gregg Rolie was the first one out. Gregg was joined on stage by Steve Lukather (Toto), Graham Gouldman (10cc), Colin Hay (Men at Work), Warren Ham, and Gregg Bissionette. Everyone got a big cheer, and then Ringo came out to a bigger cheer and they all launched into "Matchbox," the old Carl Perkins tune the Beatles covered way back when. That was followed by Ringo's solo track "It Don't Come Easy." One more Ringo-led Beatles tune followed and then Ringo handed over the lead singing duties to his band members.
I've gotta admit, the All Starr Band is a big reason I've wanted to see one of Ringo's shows for so long since in addition to hearing Beatles classics and Ringo's solo hits, you also get to hear songs from other well known musicians and their musical history. First up was Graham Gouldman. Now, I'm going to admit here that while I've known of the band 10cc for a long time, there is no way I could ever name one of their songs much less a member of the band. That's not to say I don't know 10cc songs, it's just that I don't have any association between the band and the songs. Thus led to the introduction of "Dreadlock Holiday" as a "hit song all over the world, except in America!" It's actually a song I know and would hear on KFOG before they went and blew up their format a couple of years ago. No idea that was a 10cc song!
That was followed by "two time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer" Gregg and the Santana classic "Evil Ways." I've heard Gregg perform this a number of times now and I never get tired of it. Next up, was Steve Lukather, who along with Colin Hay, ensured there were songs in the set that were hits after 1980! Lots of clapping along to "Rosanna." Finally, it was over to Colin Hay (who I did not recognize at all until he was introduced!) and the requisite "Down Under."
The show proceeded like this, with Ringo coming out front to do a couple of his numbers before turning things over to his band to do theirs. I really loved the energy Ringo had all night, but he has got to be one of the most awkward front men I have ever seen. He's clearly much more comfortable sitting behind the drums, which he did for a number of tunes -- both of his own and for nearly all of his bandmates songs. Around this time, I started doing a mental checklist of the Ringo-led Beatles songs trying to figure out what he'd be singing during the set list. First to pop in my head was the thought "Well, he'll have to do Yellow Submarine." And, yep, very next minute, there it was. It was great fun to sing along. "Yellow Submarine" is one of those songs I've just loved since I was a kid. It was kid-friendly way back when, and it still just puts a big smile on my face.
Ringo took a bit of a break after that and went backstage while the band played "I'm Not in Love" (oh! another 10cc song I know but didn't know!) and "Black Magic Woman/Gyspy Queen" which totally rocked the house. Steve Lukather was incredible on the guitar and he and Gregg had a good time playing off each other.
A third round of Ringo songs and band songs, and things started to wrap up close to 11 as the show closed out with "A Little Help from My Friends." I was thrilled to hear that live. I've heard Paul do "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band" a few times and always wished it would morph into "A Little Help from My Friends," but it never does, so getting to hear Ringo perform it was special. Ringo dashed off stage after that, but the band stuck around for a bit and a minute later, Ringo was back out and singing John's "Give Peace a Chance." Great way to end the night!
Set list (courtesy setlist.fm)
It Don't Come Easy
What Goes On
Dreadlock Holiday [10cc]
Evil Ways [Santana]*
Down Under [Men at Work]
Don't Pass Me By
I'm Not in Love [10cc]
Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen [Santana]
Overkill [Men at Work]
Oye como va [Santana]
I Wanna Be Your Man
The Things We Do for Love [10cc]
Who Can It Be Now? [Men at Work]
Hold the Line [Toto]
With a Little Help From My Friends
Give Peace a Chance
*Yes, I know all the Santana songs are covers of other people's songs. For this purpose, it indicates they performed the Santana version of the song.