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Ringo on the road, part 1: All-Starr Band lights up crowd at Oakdale Theater

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Ringo Starr returned to Connecticut on June 14 at the 5,000 seat Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Patti Murawski told Beatles Examiner in an exclusive report. She said the Oakdale theater “probably has the most perfect acoustics of any venue I have patronized,” which she called a huge plus for Ringo’s show.

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“The show began a little after the advertised 8:00 p.m. start time,” she said. “The crowd roared its welcome as Ringo bounded onto the stage, opening with Carl Perkins’ 'Matchbox.' He looks well and fit, and was dressed all in black, with a colorful sequined design on his shirt. The show moved along effortlessly into 'It Don’t Come Easy,' followed by 'Wings.' Ringo mentioned this song had been on 'Ringo 2012,' which got some shouts from the audience, to which he joked, 'Oh, only three of you bought it.'

Next came the All Starr members beginning with Todd Rundgren and “I Saw the Light.” “This was a slight change from 2012 when Todd’s opener had been 'Hello It’s Me.' He was followed by Gregg Rolie with 'Evil Ways,' then Steve Lukather was up next with 'Roseanna.' Before starting the song, Lukather said he was so pleased to be on tour with 'my new best, last friend.'

Richard Page was up next with “Kyrie, ” she said, followed by Todd’s “Bang the Drum All Day.” “A popular classic rock station in the state plays this song everyday at 5 p.m. to mark the end of the workday, so it drew an enthusiastic response, Murawski said.

“The show swung back to Ringo, who quipped, 'That’s what I want to do, bang on the drum all day, and I do!' He introduced his next number as one he did with a band he used to be in … Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, 'but also with that OTHER group you’re thinking of,' and launched into 'Boys' with the three guitarists all crowding one mike center stage for the backing vocals.

“His self-deprecating sense of humor was also on display during 'Don’t Pass Me By.' As he stood at the keyboard he commented, 'Why do they put this (microphone) up so high? I’m only 4-foot-2!.' When the song was finished, Ringo commented, 'When I wrote that line, ‘You were in a car crash and you lost your hair,’ I thought ‘Lennon and McCartney had better watch out!’ ”

Next came one of the highlights of the evening, “Yellow Submarine,” she said. The audience was on their feet, dancing, singing along and waving peace signs in time to the music. Ringo then took a breather while the band headed by Gregg Rolie performed an extended version of 'Black Magic Woman.' As on the 2012 tour, Lukather once again was the standout with blazing guitar solos on this, and others on the set list,” Murawski said. “His versatility is nothing short of amazing, and seeing him live in this setting only reinforces his reputation as one of Gibson Guitar’s top 10 session players of all time. Ringo certainly knew what he was doing when he signed him on to the All Starrs.”

Ringo returned to the stage dressed in a shiny, flashy, silver gray shirt over a fresh T-shirt and introduced the band. He teased Lukather about his black-and-white checked shoes which he had just bought. “They were the only pair left,” quipped Ringo. After the introductions, she said, he started to pace back and forth across the stage and said, “When I’m doing this, I can’t remember what’s next. I have to look.” At which point he found where the set list was taped to the floor and leaned over to find where they were in the setlist.

He then did another Beatles-Carl Perkins number, “Honey Don’t,” followed by “Anthem” off “Ringo 2012.” “At this point in the show in 2012 was 'I Am The Greatest,' so it somewhat of a disappointment to have it missing from the setlist,” Murawski said, “which sadly, for this Beatle fan, means one less number from Ringo. I can only guess that perhaps because of the extended jams during some of the songs making the show too long, that it had been dropped from the setlist.”

Richard Page followed with “You are Mine”. For this song Ringo sat on a box on which he drummed softly. Next up was Steve Lukather with “Africa”, followed by Gregg Rolie with “Oye Como Va” which brought another jam fest with outstanding performances by Luk and drummer Greg Bissonette.

One of the surprises of the night was Todd Rundgren’s next number, the Utopia song, “Love is the Answer,” which nost people will remember from the late 70s by England Dan and John Ford Coley, but written by Rundgren. “A bold choice and an unexpected change of pace, but also a fine performance,” she aid.

Ringo took over next with “I Wanna Be Your Man” with Rundgren taking the guitar solo. With Ringo remaining on the kit, Richard Page’s excellent “Broken Wings” came next, for which he got a standing ovation. The audience stayed on their feet for Steve Lukather’s final number “Hold the Line,” which he encouraged everyone to clap and sing.

“Ringo closed out the show with a run of his most famous songs, 'Photograph,' 'Act Naturally' and 'With a Little Help from my Friends' with the crowd on their feet dancing and singing along, with Ringo doing his standard jumping jacks. He ran off after giving his usual goodbye saying, 'Peace and love is the only way,” at which point the band began 'Give Peace a Chance' and he ran back on to sing a few lines only to run offstage leaving the band to take their bows.”

The chemistry in the band, she said, is even stronger than two years ago the last time the All Starrs played the area and it is quite evident that Ringo is having a great time with this lineup. “Kudos to Gregg Bissonnette who holds it all together at the back as a phenomenal drummer and who, like Steve Lukather, easily adapts to each performer’s style and looks like he is having a blast doing it,” Murawski said.

(Watch for part 2 with a report on Ringo's Beacon Theater, New York, show, coming soon.)

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