Wishing upon a Starr of nostalgia; Ex-Beatle and band of aging rockers relive glory days with graying fans

Montreal Gazette Saturday, July 28, 2001
Page: D4 Section: Art & Entertainment
Byline: Mike Regenstreif

You want to know what nostalgia is? It's thousands of 40- and 50-somethings on their feet screaming, "We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine" at the top of their lungs as a 61-year-old former Beatle jumps up and down flashing peace signs.

Ringo Starr has been spending his summer vacations lately putting together bands of aging rock stars ready to hit the road and relive the glory days when any of them could, and did, fill arenas and stadiums.

This year's edition of Ringo's All-Starrs includes Roger Hodgson and Greg Lake, veterans respectively of Supertramp and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, two bands whose progressive rock was huge in Montreal long before the rest of the world took any notice. So you had to know this was a show Montrealers of a certain age were going to love.

And they did. Whether it was Ringo singing a Beatles tune like "Boys" or Lake reaching back to before his days with ELP for King Crimson's "Court of the Crimson Queen [sic]", almost every song brought the crowd to their feet for a standing ovation.

While the show may have been an exercise in nostalgia, with almost no new material through the whole evening, it was a lot of fun while it lasted.

Along with Starr, Hodgson and Lake, the band also included Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter, Prince's drummer Sheila E and techno-pop keyboard ace Howard Jones. And though these musicians come from diverse musical backgrounds, they jelled as a band playing each other's material and they all seemed to enjoy playing behind their band mates.

In sharing the stage with band members who have all had their share of hits, Starr paced the show so he'd be in the spotlight about half the time, with each of his co-stars getting a couple or three turns out front throughout the show. When one of the others was up, Ringo would be on the drums, proving he still keeps a formidable beat.

In addition to his Beatles material, Ringo also sang a bunch of his solo hits, bringing the crowd to their feet on numbers like "You're Sixteen" and "Photograph."

But you had to just take those songs for what they are and the times they represented. After all it's a little disconcerting thinking about a guy past 60 singing a love song to a teenager or thinking ahead to when we grow old and grey. Looking up on stage and around the arena, most of us there were old and grey.

While the ovations earned by Hodgson and Lake were to be expected in Montreal, it was Sheila E at the front of the stage with her timbales on her song "A Love Bizarre" who really earned her standing O. Sheila turned in an explosive tour-de-force of percussion that wouldn't let go.

Ringo knows exactly what to do with a summer show. Just have fun.