Film and Television Features

DVD Review: Ringo Starr and The Roundheads Live

As any article on Ringo Starr is required, by law, to mention that John Lennon "He's not even the best drummer in The Beatles!" jibe, let's get it out of the way in the first sentence and move on. Although, the question does remain, if Starr really was such an unexceptional musician would he still be attracting sizeable crowds well into his seventh decade, as in this release; a 2007 concert taped in Waukegan, Illinois for television and newly released on DVD and Blu-Ray? Besides, with McCartney, the acknowledged genius of the group (who's still with us), now merely offering the occasional, unsatisfying enormo-show, Starr's commitment to performing in a space as relatively modest as this seems entirely fitting for his nice guy image.

It's a shame that he's since sullied this reputation with very public spats with his fans, and regular collaborators, so perhaps in a way this serves as something of a time-capsule, looking back to when he was still performing with his guitarist, co-vocalist/song-writer and producer (and the generally terribly dressed) Mark Hudson and when his fans would literally cheer every line that he uttered (which soon proves spectacularly annoying). Everyone seems to be having a good time - not only the overly vocal devotees but the surprisingly large amount of small children in attendance (even after Starr dusts off Octopus's Garden far too early into the set), and Ringo and the Roundheads seem in good spirits as expressed, respectively, by bouncing around a bit like a dad at a wedding and with musicianship perhaps best described as "tight". But then given Ringo's situation, at once so adored and so overshadowed by figures not present (as seen in the hysteria that greets the "Lennon wrote this for me" intro to I'm The Greatest, ironically a dreadful song no matter who wrote it), that really just having a bit of a laugh would be the best way to go. It might also explain his rhinestoned outfit.

So, as is perhaps to be expected, it looks like it was a fun night, but hardly one for posterity, and this is reflected in the overall package - it's a short show, less than an hour with no extras. Understandably the director's desperately tried to make his presence felt in such anonymous work, resulting in a few too many crane swoops into the (admittedly magnificent) venue chandelier and enough dutch angles to make The Roundheads look like they're performing on the SS Poseidon.

In conclusion then, chalk this one up as another to add to the unremarkable ranks of concert DVDs already out there. It's one for the fans, but then as pretty much everybody likes The Beatles, that could still be a hell of a lot of people.