Almost a year to the day since Paul McCartney played Safeco Field, Ringo Starr brought his tour to Chateau Ste. Michelle on Wednesday night. Starr’s show featured Beatle gems too, and on a hot night it seemed the perfect trip back to some of rock’s most beloved music.
This is the fifth time Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” has played the Chateau so the venue feels like home. Ringo joked about how his show is essentially the same each tour. “Was anyone here two years ago when we were here?” he asked. “We don’t have to play then; you know how it goes.”
The whole crowd did know every lick of “It Don’t Come Easy,” which came next. Still, Starr and band played it perfectly.
Starr’s tours these days are “revue” shows featuring a superstar band with their hits in the set list. On Wednesday that included keyboardist Gregg Rolie from Santana whose “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” were highlights. Guitarist Steve Lukather, of Toto, nailed the solos, and also played his own chart-toppers.
Todd Rundgren is also in the band, and along with his solo hits he made a Seattle joke. “This is the ‘All-Starr Mudhoney medley,’” he said. The quip only got a few claps from the mostly-boomer crowd, and they played no grunge songs.
Starr also likes to keep the in-between stage banter light, and his onstage personality was straight out of “Hard Day’s Night.” In a way, that’s part of what his audience comes to see: Ringo, like in the movies.
Starr’s musical chops, often underplayed by critics, were also impressive, however. His “Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help From My Friends” were spot on.
Starr has been touring with different incarnations of his “All-Starr” band for two and a half decades. He certainly doesn’t need the money, or fame. He plays because he loves playing, particularly with a crack band. And he loves being Ringo.
“Here’s a number I used to do with the other band I played with,” he joked at one point. “Yes, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.” He was referencing the band he left for the Beatles. “Oh, I mean my ‘other’ other band,” he added.
It was typical Ringo humor, but the music that followed — the Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man” — had a deep nostalgic pull for the audience nonetheless.
And by all indications onstage at Chateau Ste. Michelle, it is a song, part of a body of music, which still has meaning for Ringo Starr.
Charles R. Cross: firstname.lastname@example.org, charlesrcross.com, @charlesrcross