|Getting high with a little help from a friend.|
Paul McCartney played with Ringo Starr last night, and there was an echo of magic in the air. Just before that, Stevie Wonder and John Legend combined to create unforgettable performances of Bill Withers's most famous songs. The induction ceremony lasted 5 hours, this was the first I've attended. These high points in the wee hours will stay with me for a long time.
|Beck arrives and greets fans. |
Beck performed "Satellite of Love" in tribute to Lou Reed.
Joan Jett launched the show with a bang... literally. First she ripped in to "Bad Reputation," a rock and roll anthem if ever there was one, and a song most of the audience probably hadn't heard since the last time they saw "Shrek." Then, "Cherry Bomb" with Dave Grohl guesting, complete with cheesy bomb effects at the end. Want a badass opening to a Rock and Roll show? Here you go, and thank you, Joan. For the bonus round, she brought out Tommy James to join on "Crimson and Clover," with Miley Cyrus also coming on stage. Sure, we noticed that the sound sucked, the room was pretty dark, and the video screens were in bizarre locations (the center screen above the stage was so far back it was occluded by stage props, and the live "screens" for the sides were actually the walls of the hall).
Those songs were so hot, we didn't much care about the technical details.
|Joan Jett and Tommy James|
But then, everyone gets to speak; if the inductee has passed away, the honor goes to a spouse or a sibling or a child or to multiple children. And many of them go beyond their allotted time.
|Visible to most of the arena.|
Ignored by most of the speakers.
Green Day was up 4th. More fans, more vocal fans, were there for Green Day than for any other inductee. Green Day are very popular, still at or near the height of their popularity. For me, this was the first time seeing them live, so it was a pretty big deal. They were good, they were exciting, they were fun. Billie Joe had fun with his fancy outfit while finishing "American Idiot." They played 3 short songs, and...then they were gone. And so were their fans. Some never came back.
|Show over? No, just Green Day.|
Fans leaving the seating area halfway through the show.
Bill Withers provided the unexpected comedy of the evening. After Stevie Wonder gave the induction speech, Withers noted that being inducted by Stevie was "like a lion opening the door for a kitty cat." Better even than Withers's acceptance speech, were the performances that followed. First, Stevie Wonder with "Ain't No Sunshine," and then John Legend with Stevie for "Use Me," and a riveting "Lean On Me."
The video before the induction speech for Ringo provided an excellent explanation by several top drummers as to why Ringo was so influential as a drummer. After seeing several of them demonstrate the beats to "Come Together" and "The End," I half hoped we'd see something other than songs on which Ringo sang; after all, he wasn't being inducted for his singing.
Paul McCartney inducted Ringo (or "induced," as he said). Paul was generous and charming, and, well... he was Paul. Then Ringo spoke, and it was like peeling away the years. As Ringo was spinning a yarn, Paul playfully tapped on his watch; Ringo responded, "After the things I've sat through tonight! Blah blah blah. I got some stories." He told stories, he was funny, and he gave his best advice for aspiring bands: "When you're in a van, and you fart, own up... Make a pact that you'll own up to it. We did and that's how we got on so well."
They played Ringo songs. "Boys," fronted with Green Day (too bad for any so-called fans who didn't come back). Then, after an inordinately long set change, "It Don't Come Easy" and finally the big ensemble, including the two Beatles, closed the night with "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "I Wanna Be Your Man," and Paul and Ringo holding hands center stage.
|Billie Joe Armstrong, Joan Jett, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Joe Walsh.|
Others on stage at this moment included Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith, Tom Morello, Beck, Bill Withers, and Miley Cyrus.
|Friends for life.|