Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Peace & Love in Nashville
Greetings, readers! I have returned from Nashville, and after an evening of rest, I am ready to write about the July 6th All-Starrs concert at the Wildhorse Saloon. I took my mother to the concert for her birthday gift this year.
Despite my many visits to Nashville over the years, I had yet to attend a concert at the Wildhorse, so I wondered if the venue would be conducive to an enjoyable concert experience. We arrived there about 5:55, and the lines for entry were stretching for many blocks in two different directions! We found where we should be and began chatting with friendly fellow fans (and my buddy Robert) while waiting in the oppressive heat. Fortunately, the doors soon opened, and we quickly filed in to find our table. We were seated to the left at a tall table, giving us a perfect view of the stage. The floor in front of the stage was lined with banquet tables stretching to the back of the club. General admission ticket holders were seated on the upper tier balconies and appeared to have a good view as well. We were seated with a very nice man and his equally polite 14 year-old son who wanted to take in the experience of seeing the legendary Ringo at his kit, as he is a burgeoning drummer himself. (I suggested he also get to know the work of Keith Moon as soon as possible!) The delicious food and good company certainly enhanced our mood as we anticipated the beginning of the concert.
As the lights dimmed and the band took the stage, Ringo entered to the intro of "With A Little Help from my Friends" and segued into "It Don't Come Easy." Fans held up signs wishing him a happy early birthday, which Ringo graciously acknowledged. (I had slaved over an ornate sign myself, but I was obscured in the darkness, so he never saw it.) Ringo then chatted with the crowd, making several humorous comments, such as "The last time I was in Nashville, some of you weren't bald (born?) yet." (I believe he forgot that he was there 8 years ago.) He sort of mentioned Beaucoups of Blues in a round about way. Ringo dismissed one eager fan at the front, who was holding an album cover and pen, and apparently asking for an autograph: "I'm not going to sign your damn album! We've got a show to do!" He then proceeded to talk about the writing of the next song--"What Goes On." He followed this with "Memphis In Your Mind" from the Ringo Rama album.
Ringo then went to his kit to drum for the All-Starrs, who were all highly energetic and extremely talented. Billy Squier is an excellent hard rock guitarist, so the night was filled with those classic rock touches. I noticed one young girl was wearing a Billy Squier t-shirt, so she was clearly there to see him! He began the All-Starr set with "Lonely is the Night," followed by the Texas Tornado, Mr. Edgar Winter, performing "Free Ride." Edgar Winter really stole the show--he wailed on alto and tenor sax, marched about the stage with his portable keyboard, and kept the crowd in a frenzy. He was perhaps my favorite, followed by Gary Wright and Colin Hay.
Gary Wright appeared to be a very peaceful, friendly soul. He explained how George Harrison was the impetus behind his most famous composition, "Dream Weaver." Gary first met Ringo when the both performed on George's All Things Must Pass album. Gary had gone to India with George, and there George had given him a book of spiritual poems, one of which contained a line about weaving dreams. Gary went to his song journal and began writing the lyrics to what became "Dream Weaver." After the song, Ringo quipped, "George Harrison never gave me a book!" (I mumbled under my breath, "What about a book of Beethoven's poems?" You Beatles obsessives will know what I mean.)
Ringo performed "Boys" behind the kit, introducing it as a Rory Storm and the Hurricane's fave, and I think I was more into this song than many of the others there. I do believe I was the most enthusiastic person sitting in my vicinity, though some fans seated at the long tables down from us were really into the show. After "Boys" Hamish Stuart (of the Average White Band) led the band with the white funk classic "Pick Up the Pieces." Ringo returned to the front for "Liverpool 8." He mentioned Dave Stewart--I screamed my acknowledgement, but no one else did! Ringo joked, "I see he is very famous in Nashville!" He also talked about the Liverpool 8 album. As he introduced "Act Naturally" he talked about his love for Nashville's music and writing songs with people from the city. He also acknowledged that Barbara Orbison, Roy's widow, was in the audience. When introducing "Yellow Submarine," he mentioned, "If you don't know this song, you're in the wrong venue!"
Edgar and Gary shone in the solo spotlight this night. Edgar gave an amazing rendition of "Stormy Monday" that was soulful and moving. Ringo did not return to the stage unto after "Frankenstein," which seemed to be the crowd favorite of the evening! When he returned, he had changed clothes into a navy western shirt and faded dark jeans. He then dedicated "Never Without You" to George, and then followed it with "Choose Love." Ringo went behind the kit as Billy Squire then performed his most famous song and classic rock staple, "The Stroke." (Sadly, he didn't do "My Kind of Lover" or "Everybody Wants You.") Hamish led again with "I Got Work To Do" before Ringo did "I Wanna Be Your Man," which he dedicated to all the women in the venue. At one segment, Ringo pointed out one woman, saying she looked like an angel with the light falling around her hair. When someone jumped in to steal the attention, he admonished him/her--"No, not you in the checked shirt! Her!" I loved that he performed the songs he always did in concert with the Beatles. Ringo also made some jokes about homemade gifts from younger fans--a star-shaped birthday card that had been placed on the stage and a t-shirt one fan was wearing. "I've got kids. If they spit on a piece of paper it went right up on the refrigerator!" The concert continued with "Love Is Alive" (Gary), "Who Can It Be Now" (Colin), "Photograph," and "Oh, My My" (which was guessed by a knowledgeable fan when Ringo mentioned "one we've never done before"). A woman yelled out, "I love you, Ringo!" to which he replied, "I love you, too! It's nice when it's a young high voice saying it. At some shows you get these ( said with a gruff, manly voice) I love you, Ringo." Then, Ringo explained that he thought the concept of these fake encores were stupid, "you know we're coming back anyway," but he still wanted the crowd to cheer as if the band had left the stage. To conclude, the band performed "With A Little Help" and the refrain of "Give Peace A Chance." Ringo had discussed his plan for everyone to say "Peace & Love" and flash the peace sign at noon on his birthday. I believe Ringo was genuinely surprised with former Roundhead/songwriting partner and Nashville resident Gary Burr joined
the band on stage for the encore. He must have been hanging out backstage. I was glad things were amicable between them. Gary is a very nice guy and such a huge Beatles fan.
We had a wonderful time--I recommend the show for anyone who is looking for a fun night out, even if this type of music isn't necessarily your thing. You'll be surprised as to how much you'll enjoy their showmanship, enthusiasm and talent, and you'll leave respecting them even more. Of course, it's always amazing seeing a former Beatle in the flesh! Ringo looked and sounded fantastic. It's hard to believe he is 68 years old! By the way, the merchandise is plentiful and quite expensive--$40 t-shirts!--Ringo is also selling signed prints of his artwork.
(The above article is from the July 2001 issue of MOJO, and was sent to me from my friend Jeff--an excellent interview with Ringo!)