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Ringo and his All Star Band Plays NorCal

Ringo Starr played two shows in Northern California recently. One at The Masonic in San Francisco and a few days later at San Jose Civic Auditorium. Both relatively small venues at capacities of 3500 and the latter at 3000. Ringo had his 'All Star Band' with him that consisted of Greg Bissonette drums, Steve Lukathur guitar, Edgar Winter keys, sax and percussion, Colin Hay guitar, Warren Ham percussion and sax, and Hamish Stuart bass.

My plus one and I attended the San Jose show on the 17th of June. I was excited to shoot Ringo as I photographed the 'other Beatle' (Paul) last year, in May of 2022. That was Paul McCartneys' "Got Back" tour. I now proudly have 'Beatle bookends' in my photo portfolio!

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

On this night, I was shooting from the soundboard with two other photogs. I didn't have a stool with me so naturally when the audience leaps to their feet, I'm SOL! Luckily I had met the lighting designer online recently and when the venue escort told me where they wanted me to shoot from, and I saw that the option will be a disaster, he overheard and piped up and said, 'Cheryl has worked with me before and she can share my platform' (five feet above the crowd)...he saved the evening for me, as far as getting any shots from the show! And from a photographers POV (literally), especially as I am not tall, that is imperative!

They gave us the first three songs to shoot and then we had to lock up our gear to see the rest of the show. This is all pretty normal, what is not normal is the first three songs were so quick. With applause and pausing in between songs the first three usually take about 15-18 minutes...on this night the first three songs zoomed by and at most went for ten minutes or less! That was the quickest shoot I've ever had at a big gig like this. Also, when Ringo sang those first three songs he was standing with the mic. Something we have seen only rarely. Like Elton John standing and singing without the piano. As Ringo stood for the first three, I didn't get to capture any shots of him sitting behind his Ludwig set on the drum riser.

It was nice to see Ringo at such a small venue. The sound was good and it looked like most every seat had a decent view of the stage. There were also two screens showing the action, positoned on either side of the stage.

As far as the content of the show...I was a little surprised as I was not prepared for this show to contain so much 'other material'. I thought I was attending a Ringo Starr show with pro musicians as his band. I had not counted on the set list being at least 50% of the other musicians' material and only half of the show being Ringo/Beatles songs. For example, Steve Lukather, a great guitarist and member of the band Toto did at least three Toto songs as did Colin Hay from the band, Men at Work, and Hammish Stuart of Average White Band did three AWB songs. Edgar Winter the same with Frankenstein and a couple others tunes of his. All were great, but for me, personally, I went to see Ringo perform his material. If I had wanted to go to a Toto concert I would've gone to a Toto concert. All the musicians were great, don't get me wrong, but I went to see Ringo play and perform HIS songs. But apparently from what I've heard, this is the format and has been for a long time. I simply thought that Ringo does not have a shortage of great material he could play. Unless of course under any legalities he may be only allowed to play Beatles songs that he co wrote or sang lead on? I don't know. In fact the person I went to the show with and I were chatting on the way home and agreed that if Ringo were playing his or the Beatles library, we know he could've played for days!

After he performed the first three is when his band took over and Ringo jumped on the drum kit to play alongside Greg Bissonette for the Toto, Men at Work, and AWB tunes. It was weird to see Ringo play drums in the band for Toto, Men at Work and AWB. Then mid show, whilst Edgar Winter did his few songs, Ringo took a break backstage.

Full transparency on post show opinions...We ran into two of my friends there, and I was outnumbered in my opinion about the show, as the three of them loved the whole show, and I was the only one of the four of us, less than I was the odd one out in this case and thats totally ok. My plus one and one of my other friends at the show are both professional musicians and they loved the show. So there you have it. The take from four Ringo concert attendees-three loved the show and one not as much. Bound to happen. We all have our own opinions especially when it comes to music, as music is so personal. I'm very grateful to have been there and able to capture the other living Beatle through my lens.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

I did love the last twenty minutes of the performance. For me, this was the highlight of the show. That was when Ringo did most of the hits that I came to see. (In addition, to the first three songs of the show.) Everyone sang along and those last few minutes were special.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Greg Bissonette played the drums on a separate riser next to Ringos'. I thought he was incredible, and stole the show with his mad skills on the drums!

Ringo Starr (or as it says all over the contracts I had to sign in order to shoot this event, 'Richard Starkey') 82 years old and will be 83 in a couple weeks. He looked great and had a lot of energy just like his Beatle brother Paul did last May. Another fine example of what I believe...and that is that 'music keeps us young'. Well done Ringo!

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

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E. Brian Johnson
E. Brian Johnson
21 jun 2023

A very entertaining report... and what a motherload of great shots! You are very fortunate to live in a place that allows you the opportunity to see music of this caliber regularly - and in a small venue. Lucky you!

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