The feeling of Beatlemania was alive last night at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis. Ringo Starr brought along his All-Starr Band for a stop on their 2023 tour and the excitement in the air was present upon arrival. All three entrances to the theatre wound around the building. The one on my side near the box office even began to leak out into the street. There are sold out shows, and then there are SOLD OUT shows. This one is a prime example of the latter. It isn’t just an event that managed to move all its tickets, the people attending were clearly eager to get to their seat and get the show underway.
The All-Starr Band took to the stage promptly at 7:40, the impressive lineup of Toto’s Steve Lukather, Men at Work’s Colin Hay, Hamish Stuart of the Average White Band, as well as Edgar Winter, Warren Ham, and Gregg Bissonette all waved at fans and worked to get the crowd on their feet as Ringo Starr took to the stage. It didn’t take much work as fans sprang up the second the former Beatles drummer was visible and before long the crowd was rocking along to “Matchbox“, “It Don’t Come Easy“, and “What Goes On“. At the very least I was jealous in the audience. Watching Ringo Starr make being cool look so simple, and while in sweatpants no less!
After three songs at the front of the stage Ringo would pick up the sticks and take to his drum set. He would hand off singing duties to Edgar Winter who has apparently accumulated an archive of alliteration as nearly every sentence he uttered contained at least five words using the same starting letter. Winter would lead the crowd into a rendition of “Free Ride” and at 76 years old was still fully capable of claiming every inch of that stage as his own, moving around at rocket speed to belt out his vocals to everyone in the front row.
Each band member would get their proper introduction as well as time on the microphone as singing duties switched after every song. Following Winter, Steve Lukather would treat the audience’s ears to a rendition of “Rosanna“, then Hamish Stuart introduced the Average White Band hit “Pick Up The Pieces“. Lastly, Colin Hay took lead on the Men At Work chart topper “Down Under“. This process was a good thing for the show in two ways. First, it showcased just how truly all-star this band was. Lukather was able to deliver roaring solos over a variety of styles of music. Stuart had a look on his face as if he could handle the bass parts to all these songs in his sleep. Hay’s vocal range helped mask some of the notes other members of the band either couldn’t, or could no longer, hit.
That last point served as perhaps the only weak point of the night. Ringo, for as legendary and rocking of a musician as he is, is showing his age at times in the show. His vocals are still crisp and clear but the power at times was noticeably fading. At one point during “What Goes On” he audibly mumbled through a portion of lyrics that slipped his mind in the moment. None of this is to say that Starr doesn’t put on a good show. His energy at 83 is still present at all times. (Perhaps assisted by his mid-show juice break where he leaves the stage for two songs letting the rest of the band handle the rocking and rolling) Starr’s most noticeable and underappreciated talent is still present as he was in the pocket behind the drum kit all night long. The skill for any band to play two drummers in one show impressive. Not just a drummer and a percussion section but two full drumkits that must remain perfectly in sync for 24 songs. That kind of monumental task is something only drummers like Bissonette and Starr could pull off.
Ringo worked his way through all the essentials one would expect from an All-Starr Band performance. “Boys“, “Octopus’s Garden“, and “Yellow Submarine” all were sung out with peace signs and heart shaped hands being held up the whole time. After every member of the band got one more of their songs in, the crowd was treated to “Photograph” and “With A Little Help From My Friends” before Ringo left the stage as the band chanted the chorus to John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance.”
In a final bit of Beatle-esque fanfare the band exits stage right and quickly made their way out the door into a van waiting to take them to a nearby place to eat or hotel. A handful audience members made their way out to the barricade outside the venue in order to try and catch a glimpse of rock royalty as it walked by. I was a bit too far away to catch who made it to the van last, but I believe it was Colin Hay who thanked the fans for coming out before shutting the van door and disappearing into the night with the rest of the All-Starr band.
The whole show was performed and wrapped by 10:00 p.m. which even in my younger years I was thankful for as work was still waiting for me the next morning. The show was everything it needed to be and everything, I think, the fans wanted. The band came out, played the hits, delivered a night’s worth of “dad jokes” and then ran off like the rock stars they are. A handful of older fans got to relive some of the best memories of music history throughout the years. Younger fans got the chance to say they were there. That they saw one of The Beatles while they were still with us. The shared excitement that was so present as the crowd tried to work its way in the door was just as palpable when the crowd was leaving too. A feeling that will last all of these fans a lifetime.
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