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"The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony" At Barclay Center,Thursday, April 10th, 2014, Reviewed

A Denial

A Denial

Daryl Hall is so pissed off he is brittle, surely the last thing you need from a disco guy. “I can do without monitors” he says as Hall and Oates launch into their three song set at the “Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony” last night at Barclay Center. When nobody pays any attention he snarls “Stop. Stop Stop. OK, I have no monitors. They’re blown out. I don’t even need the monitors, I don’t think. Well, I can wait all night or I can play… Hey, we can continue with our speech. It all started back on Sycamore Street in 1964. It was a wonderful place…”

What’s ruffled the immutably cool Mr. Hall is sitting through an hour plus of the E Street Band pompous self-love. In what amounts to Bruce Springteen’s lowest point to date, he inducted the band for 20 minutes of self-myth before each member of the band, including some who haven’t played with the band for decades, got on stage and kissed Bruce’s ass while thanking their wives. Something that might be much more fulfilling if you were either:

1. Bruce’s ass

Or

2. One of their wives.

Figure you forgive Danny Federici’s son and Clarence Clemon’s widow their speeches. But there is no forgiving any one else at all. It was disgraceful aggrandizement. The E Street Band are just another rock band and right this minute a pretty fucking bad one. They claim to be improving, but that’s like somebody gaining weight claiming to be eating better. Their three song set after quite possibly the worst bunch of speeches in rock and roll history mistook weight for health. There is nothing smooth, sleek, cool or sharp about the E Street Band any more. Even “The E Street Shuffle” didn’t work. And “Kitty’s Back” went on and on and on and on and on. And what are they so proud of? That Bruce wrote songs on his bed while they slept? That’s it? I guess it isn’t that hard to be a saint in the city. Anyway, if it is taking them half an hour to perform THREE SONGS, maybe those four hour sets aren’t quite all that any way.

Of course this is rock AND roll courtesy of best buddy Jann Wenner, who sent the bullshit detector  to new heights with his opening of the evening speech. More pomp and much less circumstance. I was sitting in the cheap seats watching the one percenters sitting at tables on the baseball court of Barclay center wondering how we ever got there. Peter Asher (terrific when I saw him at Feinstein’s a coupla years ago) inducted Brit Explosion managers Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldhamm and maybe the moment Epstein stripped out the Beatles leather jackets (“four Gene Vincents” is how Lennon described themselves)  we were leading ourselves blindly to this anti-spirit of rock and roll.

Asher was followed by Peter Gabriel, a guy I really liked with Genesis and liked here and there during his long solo career. Inducted by Chris Martin who is both giddy and silly, probably relieved to be able to eat a burger in peace, Martin went on to sing back up on “Washing of the Water” and Youssou N’Dour joined Peter for “In Your Eyes” . Every inductee who performs (meaning every performer except Kiss) played three songs, except for Nirvana , 2vana? Who played four songs.

The first “maybe worth the price of admission alone” moment came with Tom Morello’s brilliant induction speech. “When those records were released, focus was shifted because it was a band in makeup or because it was band with explosions. But those are great anthemic songs with badass riffs. There’s a reason why Kiss sold 100 million records around the world. There was no one spitting blood in your living room when you were listening to them. I was rocking out hard to them.” Man, did he bring it on hard and fast. Kiss themselves completely sucked with none of them taking the time to tell Jann and his henchmen to go fuck themselves, with is the least thing they should’ve done.

I wrote about my beloved Cat Stevens set last night and I will add today that his voice while kinda lost on top is still beautiful in the middle and  low and I will also note that he should have performed at least one medley, we only got 15 minutes of Yusuf and I would have loved at the very least twice that.

Linda Ronstadt has Parkinson’s and couldn’t make it but hey any time you get to hear Stevie Nicks sing “It’s So Easy” or Bonnie Raitt sing “You’re No Good” can’t be alll bad. Though, damn I don’t like Carrie Underwood’s voice and her “Different Drum” was a major annoyance. Glenn Fry inducted Linda and if it wasn’t for the preening worthlessness of Bruce, it would’ve been the worse of thenight.

Is it worth laying into the E street band one more time? Nah, fuck em.  Hall and Oates should have also played a medley, the songs were too long. ?uestlove, who inducted them, managed to discuss Gamble and Huff and Hall And Oates for 15 minutes and not say “disco” once. The extended version of “I Can’t Go For That” was pretty good, “She’s Gone” not so much.

And finally, Nirvana. Speaking of pompous asses, Michael Stipe with his small town rock band spiel needs kicking down a flight of stairs. Really? College towns Athens, GA and Seattle, Washington portrayed as small town America? In what planet? Having said that, kudos to Dave Grohl for his exceptionally graceful speech. Oh and Courtney didn’t say much but her claim that Kurt would’ve have been thrilled by the honor is to laugh.

The duo plus Pat Smear performed four fair to middling Nirvana covers. With the exception of Cat, Jett, who isn’t in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, was superb with her husky voice and heads down hair rolling, anthem minded glammy but punk “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Perhaps it has nothing to do with Kurt or alternative lifestyles or the post-Reagan years, but it has lots to do with teen spirit. Kim Gordon is too old to be rolling about on the ground and Annie Clark is too weird. Lorde, who actually is a teen and does have some spirit, ended the evening with some real teen spirit on the junkies lament “All Apologies”.

But like Jett spit out on “Smells Like Teen Spirit”,  rock is a denial and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is all about an admittance. It really is a squalid rabid horrible dingy thing. It really adds up to something that is nothing.

Grade: C

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