The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony aired on HBO on Saturday. Hopefully you didn't watch it, because it was bad. But pity us: We actually attended the damn thing, at the Nokia Theatre last month.
So, for the sake of catharsis, let's briefly run it down. It's the only way we can move on, and hopefully we can provide you some guffaws in the process. Below is a blow-by-blow account. Also: Fuck Rush fans.
Performers: Don Henley, John Fogerty, Jackson Browne, and Tom Petty performing with Inductee Randy Newman
Something like: Half-digested paste vomit
Fogerty, Browne and Petty get a pass for only performing “I Love LA.” We agree with them there. But it's not clear how Newman and Henley can be considered “Rock” and / or “Roll”. The duo did a song called “I'm Dead But I Don't Know It,” which sums things up well.
Performer: Carole King, performing “So Far Away” for inductee Lou Adler
Something like: Missing one's mom
Heartbreaking. I'm not made of stone; I got a little teary-eyed. It's my mom's favorite song. King's still got a great set of pipes. Lou, charming as he is, mentioned Mama Cass's weight and gave a thumbs-up to Jack Nicholson. Whatevs.
Performers:: John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr., performing for posthumous inductee Albert King
Something like: A watered down version of Eric Clapton
If John Mayer's playing was the one thing magically keeping my beloved only child alive, I'd still beg him to stop. Forget his personal life, he's a suppurating anal fistula on contemporary blues and whoever's idea it was for him to speak or perform should be punished by being forced to transcribe while he dictates his memoirs. That said, Gary Clark, Jr., man, that guy can wail, and he did a fine fitting tribute to the lesser known of the Three Kings of Blues Guitar, (the other two being BB and Freddie). Sadly, most of the audience used this as a piss break.
Performer: Jennifer Hudson, performing for posthumous inductee Donna Summer
Something like: When you've got ants in your pants
Donna was the godmother of your precious EDM and Hudson did her a solid by performing “Last Dance” and “Bad Girls” in a perfect groove-thang way. Even the Rush fans were trying to move around to the music. To repeat: Rush fans in Rush paraphernalia were dancing to disco. Not too shabby.
Performer: Usher, performing for inductee Quincy Jones, after an introduction from Oprah
Something like: Deliciousness
Just when I was about to give up and go home and listen to Tapestry by myself Oprah goddamn Winfrey shows up. Sure, her wave of platitudes for Jones had more to do with her than it did Jones, but it was kind of neat, and when Jones himself spoke, people were so quietly focused on the octogenarian's stories you could hear even the tiniest beer-bubble pop. Then Usher did Michael Jackson's “Rock With You” and it was good.
Performer: Public Enemy, performing for themselves
Something like: The highlight of the evening
Spike Lee came out dressed as Mookie from Do the Right Thing. Then, Harry Belafonte, the King of Calypso (“Day-O”? “Jump in the Line”?) came out and delivered the most impressive oratory on the importance of Public Enemy imaginable. Flavor Flav said stuff. Rush fans, forgetting that they themselves were not being inducted, booed and chanted, “Rush, Rush, Rush.” Then Flav did stuff. And then Public Enemy performed. Anyone paying attention could hear the hushed-but-audible racist remarks from the Rush fans. Flav yelled, “Yeah boyyyyy!”
Performer: Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, performing with inductee Heart
Something like: Rock and roll or whatever
The sisters Wilson are unflappable. They don't exactly sound like they did in the beginning, but who does? If we all have that much energy in our fifth decade, we'll be pretty lucky. They shredded through “Barracuda” buttressed by Cantrell and McCready and gave shout-outs to working moms. I may have had a spine tingle or two at Ann Wilson's highest notes.
Performer: Foo Fighters, performing with inductees Rush
Something like: Amazing dragon drawings
Imagine you have this friend who does amazing dragon drawings. Like, you don't give a crap about dragon drawings, but your friend is really nice and really proficient at them. What's worse, your friend gets really famous for his drawings and develops a rabid and obnoxious fanbase. He has nothing to do with his fanbase, they don't really change him, and they pay his bills, but they're there nonetheless, everywhere he goes. That's exactly how I feel about Rush. Congrats, dudes. And fuck your fans.
Performer: All star jam session
Something like: The words “All star jam session” have no meaning anymore.
So, everyone got up on stage and performed some segment of Robert Johnson's “Cross Road Blues” to close out the evening. It was pleasant. Even Chuck D and special guest DMC rhymed along.
The Crowd: Half full of Rush fans. More exposed grey chest pubes than an elderly nudist colony.
Random Notebook Dump: You haven't lived until you've seen a well-aged white woman bopping blissfully to “Fight the Power.”