Best viewed with MS Internet Explorer 6.0
We were so excited to see Ringo come to Chicago that we made a special stop, en route, to obtain 35-mm film, for our camera that we needed to return home for, realizing that we had forgotten it. Like some other aspects of the evening, turned out to be one of those six to eight deals in ten, which author Kiyosaki teaches about, that yield less than positive returns.
My wife and I entered with an EOS Rebel camera by Canon, only to have Rosemont police officer Hauser rebuff us, who made us return it to our car. “No cameras anywhere within the perimeter, not even out in the lobby. Those are my orders,” said he, as next was stopped a lady behind me, so he could search her purse for contraband. Maybe they’re still smarting about having lost that casino license – not a non sequitur, I did run for something last year -- although they claimed it was at the behest of the band.
Funny, neither Billy Squier in “Everybody Wants You”, nor Edgar Winter in “Frankenstein”, nor Sheila E. in “Glamorous Life”, nor Ringo in “I Wanna Be Your Man”, impressed one as being overtly shy, last night. Apparently they want people to see them. Only it’s a question of to what extent, and, who gets paid.
Then maybe, it’s that now we’re still in the midst of the days of “politically correct”, meaning, that the corrector routinely takes it upon itself to dictate what those in its correctional, shall be allowed to do. This is not the Aragon of the 1970’s, nor do we want it to be, where beer bottles and other heavy objects were confiscated at the door, while the pervasive stench of burnt hemp was allowed to permeate the premises, the rationale being that a thrown bag of dried leaves, never hurt “no one,” while Santana and Tower of Power played on. So, prohibitions were predominant Saturday night, even as to what may have seemed to have been harmless, and indeed lending itself to the event without trespassing upon someone’s intellectual property.
Human spirit, being what it is, prevailed anyway. “Infractors” were rampantly abounding, somehow managing to have snuck in their recyclable and cell-phone cameras, not confining themselves to the lobby, but also making aborted bootlegs of the event in progress, even as benevolent ushers curtailed their activities, urging them back to their seats, with no worse than a tempered reprimand and without appropriating for themselves, custody of said intrusive, electronic recording devices.
Unexpected sometimes, is how one thing in life leads to another. Ringo made a point of shopping at “Horsefeathers” last time he visited Illinois to perform, in 2005. Coincidentally, that’s the name of a comedy movie meaningful to him, since it formed the director’s basis for giving novice actors Ringo & fellow Beatles, in “Hard Day's Night,” a pattern to follow, for motivation and attitude. The influence is especially evident in John’s performance. “Think of the Marx Brothers.” Now Ringo’s got the protagonists’ namesake in his employ.
Overall, even-tempered and gracious, were all musicians throughout the 2-1/2 hours of performance. Richard Marx was the contrarian: a cultural difference with Rod Argent about how to express affection, and, expletive-type adjective to describe the presence of Edgar Winter. But, once around his sense of humor, you have to give him that he’s got a great set of pipes, you can hear them resonate on solo, and a rapport with this audience in particular. He’s a Chicago, hometown boy, after all.
Rod Argent played from the Zombies and Dr. Sardonicus. It’s great to hear these pieces performed live. They sure get enough deserved play on the oldies channel. Argent’s latest effort is a release showing his “serious” music roots (reminiscent of Billy Joel), with interpretations from the Baroque, Romantic, and Impressionistic periods.
Argent also co-performed a keyboard duet with Marx on, “Right Here Waiting”. Marx had said that the earlier solo he performed, he had put out in about 1927. Believe me, he looks much younger than that; must have been more of that humor I told you about. Pundit Ringo observed, “Marx is just at the cusp, on the verge of a great breakthrough to stardom in his career trajectory.” Richard calls Ringo, “the boss.”
Sheila E.’s been playing the drums since the age of three and it shows. She is one with them. Probably even brings them to siesta. Oh yeah, and she would solo from four to ten minutes as band members just looked on, or swayed to the beat. Fully complies with Carlos Santana’s axiom for great music, that it [must] move the spirit.
Sheila was simply savage with the drum-sticks. I can’t think of any man who can out-“percuss” her. Gave me the brainstorm to get my wife a drum kit so that she too can vent her frustrations (scarce as their quantity might be)! “Post-prandial” for the actor, the effect has got to be soothing. Sheila outdoes Bonzo and the Who. Phenomenal drumming, punctuated at the end, by cymbal thrashing and toppling.
Edgar Winter, as the program says, was a child, musical prodigy. One of the musicians, Squier I believe, commented, “[T]his man can play just about every instrument here on the stage.” So, we got to enjoy Winter’s performances on saxophone, keyboard, drums, and guitar last night. His most excellent vocals, we got to hear on “Free Ride”.
Billy Squier was the very serviceable, lead guitarist throughout the evening. As Ringo commented in another, late moment, it had been an evening of jamming. Give these guys a solo, and they extend it to the hilt. “I Wanna Be Your Man”, Squier expanded well beyond its pat 2-1/2 minutes with protracted, rocking, fret board runs. He also has toured with “James” Paul, which helps explain his steady professionalism and the humorous, dialogue slip-up, “thank you, Paul,” when Ringo handed to him the reins for his first solo.
Hamish Stuart looked a bit like Hugh Hefner, of all people. If this was a Kid Rock concert or a Scooby-Doo premier, I might expect to have caught a glimpse of “Pambo” as well, but then this event was Ringo. Maybe that was Barbara Bach’s sister about Row 11, stage left, whom I glimpsed, surveying the theatre before commencement. Is her hair shorter now? Was that you, “Marge”? Stuart is the bassist from the disco-era, “Average White Band.” Frank Zappa, iconoclast that he was, loved to poke fun at disco. "His purposes may have been bifurcated, it wasn’t just the beat: anathema was any vehicle forcing him to share the spotlight with the public."
Included, from the Ringo Rama album, --incidentally, the tour kicked off at Casino Rama, in Ontario-- was “Never Without You”, about his pal, Beatle George. A very touching song, it reflects how Ringo feels about the man who put him in the Beatles. Then, in the second hour, “Choose Love” was done, although I prefer the Roundheads’ versions, studio and live. Not that one approach is necessarily better, it’s simply possible that, how Squier, Marx, Winter, Argent, Hamish & Escovedo pull it off, takes some getting used to.
Ringo was in amiable form, high-fiving audience members close to stage and receiving Beatles memorabilia for comment. “I’m not going to autograph this album. You’ll have it on E-bay in no time and auction it for a fortune!” He acknowledged a large portion of the male fans with the extension of Happy Fathers’ Day wishes. Prior to his “Memphis In My Mind” rendition, he had to re-focus audience attention to his introduction. It was near the end, and the night was growing long.
Even when people love you so much, Ringo, the public grows tired of running after you without receiving any affirmation in exchange. When the tour began, Wednesday, Ringo lamented that last year’s “Choose Love” album had only sold all of ten copies throughout Canada. Ritchie needs to exercise his promotion skills more firmly, if that’s a priority with him. “What goes on in your heart? What goes on in your mind?”
There was fan Astrid yesterday evening, who traveled from Brazil to see this. She brought art for Mr. Starr to appreciate, deposited with an assistant, and reminisced about how she had gotten an audience with authentic George during one of the four times she went to see him perform, when he came out front to receive fans. It’s a bit like standing up the bride at the altar. How many times is she going to dress rehearsal, without completion?
At this stage of his career, one might wonder how Ringo sees the world, what his goals are, what it is that he wishes to achieve next. What is it that he feels he owes to his public and to himself now? He says that peace and love are the only answers, but then, inaccessible, flits away like a duende, without connecting the dots for us. So, he means these good vibes in an abstract, detached, remote way, like a motivational tape which one might re-play from time to time, “to recharge one’s batteries”; but, security controlled our “recording” devices! How frustrating.
Jack Nicholson, at this stage of his career, makes “Anger Management” and “About Schmidt”. Humphrey Bogart made “The Left Hand of God” and “The Harder They Fall”, debilitated efforts easily eclipsed by his earlier films-noir and Bacall productions. Lawrence Welk made hundreds of syndicated shows, now hosted in re-runs by former acolytes. Tito Puente and Buddy Rich kept working to avoid retirement, as their daily religion. Some, like Ted Nugent and Don McLean, we wonder why we don’t hear more of. So, here are various examples of talents in the league, major or farm team, of Ringo, and their miscellaneous rendezvous with posterity.
Ringo Starr, this time out, delivers about 50% Ringo and the other 50%, protégés. His Roundheads, from the last couple of albums, are absent from the ensemble, including, notably, Mark Hudson, plus additional associate, Mark Rivera. What is put on the table for us is someone else’s solid musicianship, with Ringo as co-performer, your host and tour guide. All on board, for this trip with the All-Starrs; itinerary, watch your local listings for new stops. “Jay Leno,” I am told, is next.
Bio: The author is a real estate broker from Lake Forest, IL, who enjoys writing. His interests include science, government, music, and humanitarianism. He resides in Waukegan with his wife and children, and is a graduate of Carthage College and University of Illinois (U-C).
Copyright 2006 by Mark Drobnick
Re-publication, in whole or part by direct recipient, hereby authorized.
(Released: June 18, 2006)
2523 Poplar Street
Waukegan, Illinois 60087 U.S.A.
Phone: (847) 782 – 1168
For more Drobnick reviews, please see: