From 1962 to 1970, Ringo Starr was the drummer for a little band known as the Beatles. The four lads from Liverpool were arguably one of the most influential and successful pop rock groups of all time. When they disbanded in 1970, there were questions regarding what paths the individual band members would follow. Ringo's answer was a resounding declaration of his independence. He released his first two solo albums in 1970 and hasn't looked back since. This concert film was recorded at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, Illinois in August 2005 by the Soundstage TV series. It captures Ringo performing his biggest hits with assistance from his backing band, the Roundheads.
As the feature commences, we get a quick shot of the theatre marquee and are then immediately launched into the concert. Although Ringo had just released his 'Choose Love' album at the time of this show, the concert as presented really comes closer to being a greatest hits set. The 14 song set list, covers everything from his work with the Beatles and his early solo singles to songs off 'Choose Love'. The set list is as follows:
It Don't Come Easy
I Wanna Be Your Man
Who Can It Be Now?
Don't Pass Me By
I'm the Greatest
Give Me Back the Beat
Memphis in Your Mind
Back Off Boogaloo
Act Naturally (Encore)
With a Little Help from My Friends (Encore)
I have to confess that before I saw this show, I wasn't familiar with any of Ringo's solo work. Of course I had heard the Beatles songs that featured his vocals but I wasn't really sure what to expect from the rest of the set. To my surprise, the Beatles influence was readily apparent during much of the show as many of the songs represented collaborations between Ringo and other members of the Beatles in some capacity. 'It Don't Come Easy' and 'Photograph' were two of Ringo's earliest singles that happened to be co-written and produced by George Harrison. 'Back Off Boogaloo' was composed by Ringo but featured production work by Harrison. 'I'm the Greatest' was written by John Lennon for Ringo with its quirky lyrics referring to Ringo as Billy Shears, his alias in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Even the title track from 'Choose Love' has lyrics referring to the 'Long and Winding Road'. Suffice it to say, Beatle-maniacs will pick up on many other musical Easter eggs that probably escaped me.
Ringo has a limited vocal range but his baritone serves him well throughout the show while he plays the part of ringleader. Besides handling vocal duties, he gets behind the drum kit on at least half the songs. He even starts 'Don't Pass Me By' at the piano and segues into the rest of his performance without missing a beat. Of course Ringo's energy would be wasted if he didn't have a great band backing him up. Fortunately he has that in the Roundheads. These 6 musicians (Mark Hudson, Steve Dudas, Matt Bissonette, Greg Bissonette, Gary Burr, Mark Har) definitely seemed to be having fun while being utter professionals about it. Ringo also harnessed some power from down under by featuring Colin Hay of Men at Work in a performance of 'Who Can It Be Now?'. Colin also shows up on the closer 'With a Little Help from My Friends' which turns into a big sing-along with the audience.
The stage presentation was simple but colorful as the entire stage background was draped with blue and red curtains. To be honest, anything else would have been overkill since the historic Genesee Theatre was charming in its own right. A number of cameras were employed to soak up the surroundings. This yielded a variety of shots including some nice close-ups of the band members as well as some impressive crane shots of the audience and venue. Adding to the overall effect was the editing style which kept pace with the jovial mood of the concert but never threatened to cross into manic territory.
The concert was presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. Since the show was shot in high definition, the clear image was sharp with colors popping off the screen. I noticed a few instances of moiré and softness but it didn't really bother me. On the whole, the image was pleasing to the eye.
There were 2 available audio options: 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround. I chose to view the concert with the 5.1 Surround option which turned out to be a very clean audio mix with just a few quirks. It seemed as though Ringo's spoken vocals were treated differently than his sung vocals. While his banter with the crowd was spread across the center channel and the front surrounds, his vocals during the songs emanated from the front surrounds with the center channel being ignored completely. This didn't hurt my experience at all but I thought it was worth noting. Throughout the concert, the rear surrounds were devoted to the backing band's instrumentation and crowd noise. Overall, the mix was crisp and served the concert quite nicely.
There were no subtitles on this release.
Zip. Zilch. Nada. Beyond giving the viewer the ability to play individual songs from the concert, this release had absolutely no extras. I would have appreciated at least a small piece giving some context to the concert but it wasn't meant to be.
Ringo Starr was a member of one of the biggest musical acts ever. Most folks would be at a loss as to how they could possibly top that. Although Ringo never topped his work with the Beatles, he has had a long solo career filled with songs that represent his chipper, upbeat personality. This concert functions nicely as a career retrospective. The disc has a pleasing audio mix and a clean visual presentation. Unfortunately, there were no extras of any sort in this release. Despite this, the release will appeal to fans of Ringo. Recommended.