Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls - June 14, 2012

Ringo Starr strikes a pose as he performs with his All Starr Band at the Fallsview Casino Resort....

Ringo Starr strikes a pose as he performs with his All Starr Band at the Fallsview Casino Resort. (MATT DAY/QMI AGENCY)

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:46 AM ET

Ringo Starr waited until the very end to “have a go” - as the Brits say - at tightrope walker Nik Wallenda as the Beatles drummer and the latest edition of his All-Starr Band launched their North American tour on Thursday night at Fallsview Casino with the first of two shows.

“If you don’t know the words to this one, you’re at the wrong venue! You think it’s the tightrope guy!” joked Starr, 71, before performing his pentultimate song and Fab Four classic, With A Little Help From My Friends, followed by the snippet of John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance.

“Are you kidding? With a harness? I could go across!” he added.

The sold-out crowd roared its approval.

Of course, the peace-and-love-preaching Starr already told QMI Agency he’d be watching from his hotel room after his second show on Friday night as Wallenda (wearing a safety harness at the request of live broadcaster ABC) walked over Niagara Falls.

But back to the show.

Starr’s well-worn but crowd-pleasing formula continued its magic in its 13th edition as the loveable and funny Beatle, flashing peach signs all night long, was joined by strong newbies, Toto singer-guitarist Steve Lukather and Santana-Journey singer-keyboardist Gregg Rolie, and equally pleasing returnees Todd Rundgren and Mr. Mister singer-bassist Richard Page, saxophonist-percussionist Mark Rivera and second drummer Gregg Bissonette.

For close to two hours the group, who had been rehearsing at Fallsview for the last ten days, took their turns in the spotlight performing their collective hits with Starr’s solo songs It Don’t Come Easy, I’m The Greatest, Photograph, Act Naturally (his Hank Williams cover) and Beatles tunes Don’t Pass Me By, Boys, Yellow Submarine, and I Wanna Be Your Man getting some of the biggest applause of the night.

“He is the reason for it all,” said Lukather of Starr, who alternated between performing behind a drum kit on a riser, with his trademark head bob move in all its glory, or at the front of the stage with just a microphone.

“I look great! I feel great! And I’m great. That I’m still doing it is a miracle,” joked Starr in his warm Liverpudlian accent.

Coming in a close second in terms of audience response were the Rolie-driven Santana hits Evil Ways, Toto’s Rosanna and Hold The Line, and Rundgren’s I Want To Bang On The Drum All Day.

However, it was Santana’s Evil Ways - with an absent Starr who left the stage briefly - that got the evening’s first standing ovation, followed by first crowd clapalong for the Toto hit Africa.

Voice-wise, Rundgren stood out on his gorgeous ballads, Hello, It’s Me and I Saw The Light, as did the clear-voiced Page on such Mr. Mister hits as Kyrie and Broken Wings, and his very pretty new song about inspiration, You Are Mine.

Starr also performed tunes from his latest release, Ringo 2012, the reggae inflected Wings, and Anthem, which he described as “an anthem for peace and love,” with a snippet of the Beatles’ Ticket To Ride in the mix.

It was Rungdren, however, who proved to be the quirkiest entertainer of the bunch with his skunk striped hair, gold runners (that later matched his gold drums), and impromptu stage banter.

“Obviously, I didn’t get the note about the formal wear,” he said before Hello, It’s Me, of his casual T-shirt and jeans attire.

And before launching into Bang On The Drum All Day he said: “What does this song have to do with anything!?”

Who cares? It was fun, much like the man - and the entire All-Starr Band.

 


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