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Concert Reviews:
Hits Win the Night for Ringo and His All-Starrs at DTE

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2006

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Since he started his All-Starr Band concept in 1989, Ringo Starr has been getting by with a little help from his musical friends -- and acquaintances and even perfect strangers. But the level of assistance has varied among the different ensembles the former Beatle has taken on the road.

This year, however, Starr is good hands.

The latest installment of the All-Starrs, which visited the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Friday night, is comprised of solid, group-minded players who also come with Starr's main pre-requisite -- hits, and big ones.

In fact, two-hour and 15-minute concert resembled not so much the "1-800 number" for hits that Starr likes to boast of but rather one of those radio stations that prides itself on pumping the greatest hits of the 70s, 80s and so on. Add the 60s and you have the three-decade span the evening's 24 songs represented, and if the seven-piece group seemed to still be putting some of the pieces together in the third show of its tour, it had no trouble winning over the crowd of about 6,000 at DTE.

The All-Starrs delivered a nice mix of the expected and a few surprises throughout the night while also demonstrating a vocal strength and dexterity that bolstered most of the numbers. Starr ran through hits from his Beatles repertoire ("Yellow Submarine," "Honey Don't," "Boys," "Act Naturally," "With a Little Help From My Friends") and his solo albums ("It Don't Come Easy," "Photograph"), but also pulled out, for the first time ever, "What Goes On," his only composition with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Edgar Winter charged the evening with "Free Ride" and a lengthy run through "Frankenstein" -- during which he played keyboards, saxophone and timbales -- but also tripped into gospel territory for a solo piano rendition of "Fly Away." Winter also joined Billy Squier on a bluesy duo rendering of Robert Johnson's "Rambling on My Mind."

The 80s pop hits "Love Bizarre" and "Glamorous Life" -- from third-time All-Starr drummer Sheila E. -- remain incongruous but entertaining, while Richard Marx wisely eschewed his myriad ballads in favor of the rock selections "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Should've Known Better." Rod Argent, despite some thin vocal performances, won over the crowd with the Zombie's "She's Not There" and the anthemic "Hold Your Head Up."

And while former Average White Band frontman Hamish Stuart didn't perform any of his own songs, his bass playing and harmonies went a long way towards solidifying this All-Starr Band's developing sound. With that and a jukebox worth of hits going for the show, Starr is doing better than just getting by this time around.

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