Thursday 3 October 2013

All You Need: Ringo Starr at LA Live

On my last day in Los Angeles in June, I was awaiting one of those evening flights which leave you wondering what to do with the rest of the day.

I didn't feel like travelling far from my accommodation, the strange but marvellous Figueroa Hotel, so I was at something of a loose end.

Luckily, the hotel was right next to LA Live, a sprawling, relatively new entertainment complex containing music and theatre venues, along with restaurants and big outdoor screens.

It also contained the Grammy Museum, and I was pleased to note that the latest exhibition, Ringo: Peace & Love, had opened just a week before.

I decided to work down from the music museum's top floor toward my date with Ringo.

I was a bit surprised how much I enjoyed the place. I've never been that much of a music fanatic - I mean I like the music I like, but I don't really have favourite bands or anything like that.

But this was fun. There were alcoves devoted to specific genres, each with a detailed background of its rise and the greats who played or sang it, from gospel through to pop.

Along one wall was an interactive exhibition at which one could select a US city - Seattle, say, or New York or Memphis - and trace the times and ways in which they had been music epicentres.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the customised jukebox standing in one corner. Originally a German machine standing in some long-forgotten bar, it had now been fitted out with large screens which simulated the classic jukebox menu display, but which contained vast numbers of hits from various decades.

Whenever a number was selected, text would pop up explaining its musical significance while the song was belting out of the speakers. I could have stayed there all day.

The highlight, though, was the Ringo exhibition.

What made it special was the sheer amount of memorabilia on loan from the ex-Beatle, including original costumes from video clips and film shoots, and the bright pink uniform he wore on the Sergeant Pepper album cover (and yes, it was just as lurid in real life).

There were also excellent interactive sections with newly shot footage, in which Ringo would teach the visitor how to play drums via headphones and screen attached to a drum kit. You could also sing along with Yellow Submarine in a dedicated karaoke booth.

It was great fun. Almost as much fun as being in an octopus's garden in the shade.

Ringo: Peace & Love continues to 30 March 2014 at the Grammy Museum, LA Live, 800 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, USA.

Disclosure time... On this trip I was hosted by Fiji Airways and the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.

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