BY CELIA ALMEIDA
It is not too difficult to catch a glimpse of a living, breathing, singing Beatle these days. Both surviving Beatles put out albums every couple of years and tour to support those records. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band have been at it touring extensively for decades, and though Paul McCartney has favored short tour spurts in recent years to care for his young daughter, he plays three hour shows that put young bands to shame whenever he can.
Seeing a living, breathing Beatle two feet in front of you, however, or shock of all shocks, actually touching one is perhaps the definition of “impossible”. Factor in being too broke for tickets to Ringo’s show at the Seminole Hard Rock Live Hotel and Casino, and you’ve conceived of such an impossible situation that only delusional lunatics would even try to get close to the venue.
Luckily, my twin sister and I are delusional lunatics. Peaceful, hippie stalkers even.
On Saturday June 30, my sister and I made the drive out to the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood from Miami. We had no tickets and barely any hope of seeing the show or a glimpse of Ringo himself, but we figured we might bump into some local radio contests or Beatles fan events. We even wore our Beatles t-shirts as if we were getting dressed up for the concert. With no tickets.
The drive over included riding past Sun Life Stadium, where we saw one of the best concerts of our lives so far two years ago: Paul McCartney. Driving past the stadium where we saw Paul on the way to not seeing Ringo was depressing, but we figured we’d make an adventure out of it and drown our sorrows at a hotel bar later that night if nothing came of this.
We walked around the hotel and casino for about an hour. We’d never seen a show at this venue so we knew nothing about the logistics of it and walking around was part of our investigation. When we finally found the actual auditorium, Majic 102.7 had set up two booths in front of the entrances.
We jokingly asked the DJ where Joe Johnson was (Johnson hosts “Beatle Brunch“, a weekly one-hour show about the Beatles that airs on Sunday mornings). I’m glad we jokingly asked this because he told us that Joe was at the casino, where Ringo’s artwork was being displayed. We told him that we understood that this was open to ticket holders only, but he clarified that it was open to the public.
We’d heard on the radio and read online (because we are delusional lunatics that research before stalking) that Ringo might be where his art was being displayed. So we ran back to the casino and bumped into a man wearing a Ringo t-shirt on the way and asked him if he knew where the artwork was. He gave us directions, and after a few minutes I looked to my left and saw camera phones. I grabbed my sister by the arm and RAN pulling her while dodging patrons.
We got to the crowd and in front of us stood a lot of tall people. My twin sister and I are 4’11”. Everyone is tall to us. In front of these tall(er) people was a window, and in front of that was a very short Ringo Starr. We couldn’t see him because we are short and apparently so is he, so we crawled, jumped, and squeezed our way about to try to catch a glimpse. Finally a man behind us told us “Hey! He’s walking that way!” and pointed to my right.
My sister is more psychotic than I am.
She grabbed my hand, ran to the right while pulling me, squeezed her way to the front (without making anyone angry because we are short and we can get away with this stuff), reached out, and touched Ringo Starr’s shoulder. She tapped him to get his attention and he turned, looked at her, held up the peace sign and said “Love. Love.”
She and I immediately looked at each other in wide-eyed shock (as if to register and confirm within each other’s faces that this had actually happened) and flipped out. We were not cool whatsoever. We screamed. We jumped. She started running after Ringo yelling “I touched a Beatle!” while I decided to follow her and thus, this is how in the year 2012, we got to chase after Ringo Starr like in the opening scene of “A Hard Day’s Night”. That song is all about working hard and reaping benefits at the end of the day, and I can’t help but relate it to our stalking efforts.
Ringo, the All Starr Band and their security detail made their way through an exit and he was gone. It took us a few moments of screaming and hyperventilating before we began to process what had just happened. I have a scratch on my arm from my sister digging her nail into me when she was freaking out. I didn’t notice how much my arm was stinging until about twenty minutes later when the adrenaline started wearing off.
I was ready to go home. The impossible had already been achieved and I almost thought it greedy to try to collect more from my karma piggy bank by trying to get into the show after having been two feet away from Ringo and having had him look in my general direction.
But my sister is more psychotic than I am.
She is the reason that we waited for another two hours in front of the venue with almost no money in our pockets to afford tickets, scalped or not. I’m not really sure why she had any hope (maybe some of Ringo’s insane level of positivity had rubbed off on her in what will henceforth be known as The Encounter), or why I went along with it, to be honest. All I know is that some guy, I think out of fear of being caught scalping and wanting to just get rid of the ticket ASAP, walked up to my sister and offered her a free ticket. A free REAL ticket. We examined it and it looked very real, so we decided to take a gamble, but not your traditional casino gamble.
We took the ticket and went to check how much they were selling tickets for at the ticket office because we’d heard that prices might be reduced as it got closer to show time. If we bought a ticket and the free one turned out to be a fake, we were screwed. We found it was selling for forty bucks. For one ticket. With service fees included. We split the ticket, walked up to the ushers and they scanned our tickets. They were real. We were in.
This concert was never going to be just any concert. Frankly, despite its merits we still would have been seeing the other surviving Beatle live. We wondered if the satisfaction of our Hard Day’s work would overshadow the show itself, but Ringo and his crew did put on a worthy show. The latest incarnation of his All Starr Band includes Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie [founding member of Santana and Journey], and members of Toto [Steve Lukather] and Mr. Mister [Richard Page].
All Starr Band set lists are as strong as the tour lineup, and thus we did have to sit through some insufferable songs like Toto’s “Rosanna” and Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings”. But this and twenty bucks each were a small price to pay for our earlier experience and the better parts of the concert. The Santana numbers and Rundgren’s “Bang the Drum All Day” were among the best performances of the night.
Ringo played a mix of his new songs, like “Anthem” off of his latest Ringo 2012, as well as Beatles songs like “Boys” and “Act Naturally” and solo fan favorites like “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph”. On the latter, which was written by George Harrison, as well as on the final sing-a-long of the night, “Give Peace A Chance”, the spirit of the late Beatles was felt and celebrated throughout.
Ringo’s self-deprecating humor alone made for a good show. He teased the audience about not getting excited enough when he plugged his new record and shared how excited he was when he wrote the line “you were in a car crash and you lost your head” in “Don’t Pass Me By”, “Watch out Lennon/McCartney!”
The most beautiful moment of the night was Ringo’s last song, “With A Little Help From My Friends”. It was the strongest sing-a-long of the night (even more so than “Yellow Submarine”) and fittingly summed up the mood of the night – surrounded by happy, loving hippies, knowing that we could not have made it to those seats without a little help from each other and the Ringo fans we met along the way.
But being short and delusional definitely helped.
Ed: Here are the real Celia and Sandra (cell phone pick in their seats at the show)!