Thursday, January 14, 2010


Wow, today I had a real treat. It was an absolute privlege to get to see Ringo Starr backed up by Ben Harper & Relentless7 (and accompanied on some songs by Joan Osborne) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Artists Den, a TV program that airs on Public Television. The premise of the show is to have great artists perform in unusual locations.

It must be fun to be Ringo. You just walk into the room and people are happy just to see you. If that idea bugs you, you may not want to see Ringo live. Oh, also: get a life! Lighten up. Have a yoo-hoo!

Ringo and the band (which also included a violinist and two keyboardists, making the Relentless 7 an actual seven person band), accompanied by Joan Osborne, opened with "Photograph." I used to think of this merely as a great pop song. I hear it differently these days: Ringo wrote it with George Harrison, and the line "all I've got is a photograph, and I realize you're not coming back any more" hits me where it hurts (George has become an increasingly important figure in my life in recent years). The other thing that struck me during this song: now this would be a great "All-Starr Band."

They also did Ringo's lovely new song "Walk With You" (the album version features great vocals by Paul McCartney). And The Beatles' classic "I Wanna Be Your Man," which featured Ringo singing from behind the drums. It's fun watching Ringo the frontman, but watching him behind the drums... it's really something. People have joked about him being really "lucky" to have been in The Beatles, but the fact is, he was the perfect drummer for them. Charlie Watts wouldn't have worked, Keith Moon definitely wouldn't have. His style was perfect for the band, and he was a hot drummer. Today's performance of the song rocked. "I Wanna Be Your Man" is not given its due as one of the most important rock and roll songs of all time (as Little Steven tells it, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it for The Rolling Stones who couldn't get a hit at the time, and it gave them their first hit single... The Beatles recorded it later).

Ringo took a break and Ben his own mini-set. No Expiration readers know that I am a huge fan of Ben's, I've been attending his concerts since 1994, when he was opening for other people in bars. It's pretty amazing to see him playing in Ringo's band, and seeing Ringo cede the stage to him.  I was wondering how it would go over: safe to say that probably 80% (or more) of the audience weren't too familiar with Ben. I thought he should have gone with his more anthemic songs ("With My Own Two Hands," "Better Way," "Shimmer And Shine" or even "Burn One Down" but that may have been too easy).  He once told me that putting together set lists was an art form that he still didn't have a handle on. But still, "More Than Sorry" and  "Morning Yearing," went over well. But he really won people over with "Up To You Now," the only Relentless 7 song he did. In fact, when Ringo returned to the stage, he said, "I have to follow that?" That came from a Beatle! (Ben did four songs, but it's late, I can't remember, I forgot to bring a pen... the other one may have been "Waiting On An Angel" UPDATE: it was "Walk Away" thank you Morgan).

They played a pretty heavy song from Y Not?, "The Other Side Of Liverpool," which is a bit dark for him, and deals with his youth (including his father leaving the family). They also did the classic "It Don't Come Easy," and of course, "With A Little Help From My Friends" (with help from Joan Osborne). They left the stage, and then Ringo came back out in his coat, and said "I was this close to the car!" and threw off his coat, got behind the kit, and they did a rocking version of "Boys" (a song The Beatles did,  I don't know who did the original).

Everyone left the auditorium pretty exhilarated. My friend and I (he is the biggest Beatle fan I've ever met, and I've met many) were discussing how, wow, it would be so great if Ringo would tour with this band. Ringo, Ben, Relentless 7, Joan Osborne. It would be incredible, and go way farther towards bringing Ringo to a younger generation than any of his All-Starr tours do. Between Ringo, Ben and Joan, that's a full set.  Not of the boring classic rock radio hits, but of some of the best songs you'll ever hear! But the fact is, that probably won't happen. So I'm glad I got to see what was probably a once-in-a-lifetime deal. I can't wait to see it when it airs.  Thanks to the folks who helped me get my ticket.


Morgan said...

ben opened with walk away. it was awesome.

Minority said...

thank you Morgan!

Morgan said...

video of ben from the green room: