Better than... Sitting in your cubicle on a Monday afternoon
It's always surreal entering a dark rock club in the middle of the day, but it's even more bizarre when you find yourself standing next to a Beatle and Katy Perry's ex while most people are sitting at their desks fighting off the Monday blues. This was the happy fate of a few lucky Sirius XM competition winners (and a wayward journalist) who saw Ringo Starr perform, get heckled by comedian Russell Brand and answer questions about his fabled career while most of L.A. toiled away.
Before Starr took the stage at the intimate Troubadour, Brand told the crowd in true Brand fashion, "This whole day was designed to elicit non-stop ejaculations." The English comedian also quipped, "I represent L.A. because as you all know, I grew up in South Central." When the man of the hour entered to rapturous applause, he flashed peace signs at the audience.
Although he was supposed to be promoting his new (and might we add 17th) solo album, Ringo 2012, Starr avoided the hard sell and only mentioned the new record in passing. Instead he fielded numerous questions from the audience for a full hour, during which time he revealed that Billy Preston was his favorite Beatles collaborator ("he never put his hands in the wrong place"), discussed his "matched grip" drumming technique ("I didn't really know how to play") and his initial impressions of the United States ("Before I came to America I thought everyone here was a cowboy. When I got to L.A. I was wearing a poncho and toy guns.")
Starr also gave a shout-out to the Troubadour, recalling how he saw Elton John and Peter Frampton perform on that very stage. "I saw Peter go from opening here to playing the Forum in one year," he said. "It can happen ... just keep playing. You never know."
A few minutes later, Starr introduced his five-piece backing band and launched into one of his biggest solo hits, "It Don't Come Easy." Starr grinned charismatically and gestured wildly in the air, proving that he's a great showman, if not a remarkable singer. He then segued into The Beatles song, "I Wanna Be Your Man," and took over drumming duties. The only new tune he trotted out was "Wings," on which Eagles axeman Joe Walsh joined him playing a mean guitar, but overall it sounded as poppy as "Octopus's Garden." He then invited everyone on stage to end with The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends." This was clearly meant to be the finale, but producer Don Was, who had also posed questions to Starr earlier in the program, talked him into playing "Act Naturally."
Personal Bias: I'm a huge Beatles fan and have a bit of a crush on Russell Brand.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I probably shouldn't post this on Facebook -- my boss doesn't know I'm here."
Notebook Dump: Ringo looks very fit at age 71, but he dances a lot like my grandpa.
It Don't Come Easy
I Wanna Be Your Man
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With A Little Help From My Friends