Several hours after receiving his honorary degree, Starr went to the Wang Theater in Boston, performing to a sold-out house on June 2, 2022.
Accompanying the honorary Dr. Starr this time around are recent longtime members Steve Lukathaer (Toto) and Gregg Bissonette (ex-David Lee Roth Band), alongside Colin Hay (Men At Work), Hamish Stuart (ex- Average White Band), and Edgard Winter.
Starr, who was still beaming with academic festivities, light-heartedly referred to himself as “doctor” during the show, much to the delight of the Beatle-hungry crowd.
Opening with “Matchbox” (a cover of a Carl Perkins song originally released on the “Beatles For Sale” album), Starr then wasted no time unleashing his most successful solo single “It Don’t Come Easy”, before sharing the spotlight with his comrades.
Winter was first with a slick version of “Free Ride” and Lukathaer followed with Toto’s huge hit from 1982, “Roseanna”.
Mixing a dose of Funk into the set, Stuart led the band on a killer take of “Pick Up the Pieces” (pre-song, Lukathaer told a story about meeting the Average White Band in a restaurant as as a young musician, and was quite proud to play with him after all these years), and Hay released a wonderful version of “Down Under”.
Starr then sang a cover of the Shirelles’ song “Boys”. A personal favorite of Starr, he even performed “Boys” during his induction. the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. After the friendly chant “Yellow Submarine”, Starr left the stage and the band continued for a pair of songs in his absence.
After Stuart revived another Average White Band hit, “Cut The Cake” (during which he performed a masterful bass solo), Winter ripped off a nearly 20-minute jam from his “Frankenstein” instrument. While Winter was impressive playing three separate instruments (keyboards, drums, and saxophone), it was Bissonette who stole the moment with a standout drum solo, where he included snippets from other songs like “The End.” by the Beatles, and gave Boston a nod with a little snippet of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”
As Starr returned to the stage, he said he was extremely reluctant to add the next song to his set, but his band insisted he did. He recanted and did a wonderful version of the pop gem “Abbey Road”, “Octopus Garden”. Starr added that this was only the “fourth time” he had performed the song live.
The 1972 Top 10 hit “Back off Boogaloo” (a purported nod to “glam rock”), led to an exuberant “I Wanna Be Your Man”. While the song (from the Beatles’ second record, “With The Beatles”) was only the second time Starr had sung to a Beatles song (“Boys” was his first recorded lead vocal, on the Fab- Four, “Please Please Me”), was his first crack at a John Lennon/Paul McCartney composition in the studio.
Lukathaer returned to the limelight and the band added a Reggae twist to Toto’s most enduring song, “Africa.” Hay’s high-pitched vocal range on the chorus added to the song’s acidity, and he continued to impress with a heavier guitar-heavy version of his former band’s hit, “Who Can It Be Now”?
At the end of the show, Starr did a sweet version of his lovingly mournful hit “Photograph” (which Starr composed with George Harrison) and closed the show with a glorious “With A Little Help from My Friends.”
At the song’s coda, Starr left the stage, but quickly returned and the band played a bit of the chorus from Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”. An excellent choice to end the show in style, while giving a nod to his former Beatles partner.