Peace and love and, well, rock ‘n roll. That is what was served up Tuesday night at the first night of two completely sold-out performances by Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore. After some pandemic-related postponements, the Beatle, drummer, singer, and showman, Ringo Starr arrived just in time to push away the rain clouds that gathered in the early evening and bring some sunshine to Charm City.
I hadn’t seen a rock performance at the Lyric before, so this was a new experience for me, but as fans poured into the hall the care that the opera house had put into making this a memorable event was apparent. From the concessions to the staff directing the the crowd, it made for a comfortable place.
As the lights went dark on Sept. 6, the band kicked things off with the Carl Perkins classic, “Matchbox,” as Ringo strutted onto the stage, giving his trademark peace signs and grooving on the vibe of this packed house.
“Without you guys, we’d be playing with ourselves,” Ringo called out to the laughing audience, as fans peppered the venue with cries of “We love you, Ringo,” to which he joked how some places you hear loving calls of “We love you,” and other places it more of a scream! But he felt that love all the same.
“This next song has special meaning, because it’s the only song written by John, Paul, and Ringo, though I told them, ‘I gotta tell you it looked better Ringo, Paul, John’,” Ringo said to laughs from the audience, as the band started up the Beatles tune, “What Goes On.”
But that was just the beginning, as each member of the band took a turn in the spotlight — from Edgar Winter on “Free Ride” to crowd pleasers like Toto’s “Rosanna” led by Steve Lukather and Warren Ham and “Pick Up the Pieces” by Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart. For me, the hightlight of these star turns was hearing a full band behind one of my personal favorites, Men at Work’s Colin Hay, singing “Down Under.” I heartily joined in with the rest of the crowd as we sang along.
As Ringo Starr danced and sang, this was clearly a band that was having fun and, I imagine, a great time hearing the crowd sing and clap along with them — particularly as Ringo went on to sing Beatles favorites like “Yellow Submarine.”
As Ringo stepped off the stage, the rest of the band went on to play a number of songs from their respective bands, including Hamish Stuart and Average White Band’s “Cut the Cake” and an amazing sprawling version of “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter with drummer extraordinaire Gregg Bissonette running through bits of drum solos from a classic Beatles tunes as well as well known popular numbers.
But there were a few numbers where you could tell it was something special for members of the band. For instance, during the Toto hit “Africa,” I could hear Colin Hay belting out those high notes like it was nobody’s business. And you know it was as much a thrill to hear it as to perform it.
As Ringo joined back in, the band continued with what seemed like an unlimited amount of energy through Ringo’s solo material like “Photograph” and Beatles favorite “Octopus’s Garden” to the rockin’ “Johnny B. Goode” and ending with “With a Little Help From My Friends” that then turned into the sing-a-long “Give Peace a Chance.” This show was two and a half hours of pure joy for both this capacity crowd and, I do believe, the band on stage.
It Don’t Come Easy
What Goes On
Free Ride (Edgar Winter)
Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band)
Down Under (Men at Work)
Boys (The Shirelles)
I’m the Greatest
Cut the Cake (Average White Band)
Back Off Boogaloo
Overkill (Men at Work)
Work to Do
I Wanna Be Your Man
Johnny B. Goode
Who Can It Be Now? (Men at Work)
Hold the Line (Toto)
With a Little Help From My Friends / Give Peace a Chance
Here are more photos of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band performing at the Lyric Opera House on Sept. 6, 2022. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.