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Live At Soundstage (Live)

Ringo Starr

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Album Review

Koch's 2007 release Live at Soundstage is a CD release of a show originally performed at Waukegan, IL's Genessee Theater in August 2005 and first broadcast that year as part of PBS' Soundstage program. It's not quite a complete representation of the concert — it's a tight 14 tracks, trimmed of the songs Colin Hay sang with Ringo Starr's Roundheads band, so it just features the songs where Starr sang lead, a minor compromise that will likely only bother completists. It could be argued that completists may be the only audience interested in a latter-day live album from Starr, not because that's the only audience he attracts these days, but because there are so many live albums in his discography at this point — a whopping six albums have been released since 1990, roughly one after the completion of every All-Starr Band tour — that only those who listen to each and every one could bother finding the differences between them, as Starr rarely deviates from arrangements or set lists. Cynics may raise these concerns as they question the need for another live album, but Live at Soundstage might win them over as Starr and the Roundheads, led by Mark Hudson, are in fit form here, playing the greatest hits (they're all the songs you know by heart, plus a couple of good new ones, like his George Harrison tribute "Never Without You") like old pros who never get sick of playing, because that's what they are, after all. Starr plays these year in and year out and if he doesn't find new wrinkles within them (it's possible to call the spare piano opening to "Don't Pass Me By" a variation, but it's very slight), he nevertheless still sounds charming as he runs through "Octopus's Garden," "Photograph," "Act Naturally," and "With a Little Help from My Friends" once again. It's not a live album that's visceral or compelling, but one that's friendly and engaging, guaranteed to raise a smile for any lifelong Ringo fan — and that's all that Starr and his band intend to do with these kinds of concerts.

Live At Soundstage (Live), Ringo Starr
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