But Don't Give Yourself Away...

I'm not a big fan of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- hell, they didn't even see fit to call it "rock 'n' roll" -- but I do find it hard to resist watching the ceremony each year. Especially the last couple of years, with Joan Jett and Stevie Ray Vaughan being inducted in 2015, and with Deep Purple and the biggest band of my teenage years, Cheap Trick, going in this year.

Despite all of their offstage drama in the past decade, the room got a little dusty for me when all four Tricksters took the stage together to perform I Want You to Want Me and my favorite song of all time, Surrender. Trick did not disappoint me. Guitarist Rick Nielsen (one of three reasons my name is what it is today) played the room just like he does a small club or an arena, throwing guitar picks into the crowd, mugging for all he is worth, and filling the air with his trademark riffs and between lyric fills. The band sounded as tight as ever, which is not surprising since they have rarely stop touring over 40 years. 

It was likely the last time that drummer Bun E. Carlos will be on stage with the other three (he is still an "official" member of the band, but doesn't record or tour with them since he sued the other three), so it was somewhat appropriate that Cheap Trick went right from their performance into the all-star jam session closer with their Top 40 cover version of Fats Domino's Ain't That a Shame.

Some Hall notes:

  • I don't care what happened offstage that pissed off the Hall rank and file, Steve Miller's onstage comments were appropriate (among them, that the Hall needs to be more inclusive). The main thing I took away from his segment is that Miller looks like a doppelgänger for Russell Crowe (as he looks today).
  • Besides Cheap Trick, the most energetic and dare I say "rockin'" performance came from, of all acts, Chicago as they they played their classic 25 or 6 to 4. Another band that never stops touring, even with past members included in the mix, Chicago seemed to relish the moment and made sure the crowd didn't forget that they at least started out as a rock band. (A rock band with horns, as was pointed out at least twice.)
  • As much as I was glad Deep Purple was included, there was too much in the way of backstage politics as play to allow the classic Mark II version of the band to play in their slot (in other words, no Ritchie Blackmore there at all). And, of course, a deceased Jon Lord. The sound was uneven for their first song (Hush, the Mark I classic) and truncating Smoke on the Water to the point of taking all of the air out of it (however hot that air was in the first place) made for a lukewarm showing.
  • It was upsetting that N.W.A. chose not to perform, especially since the four remaining main members finally got back together onstage at Coachella a couple of weekends later. After Ice Cube's marvelous explanation of exactly why rap and hip-hop ARE rock 'n' roll, the group chose to not have their music represented live on stage at the show, which cuts against his remarks as far as I am considered. Deeds, not words, my friend. Show 'em why you should be in there. On the other hand, Cube dissed Gene Simmons on the show, and that was pretty fucking great.
  • Kimbra, I don't know your music (yet), but damn, you were annoying. Almost ruined getting to hear David Byrne sing Bowie's Fame.
  • Sheryl Crow is 2-1/2 years older than me, and dammit, I still want to marry her.
  • When I was younger, I knew Steve Morse from a very underrated  and quite experimental rock/jazz fusion band called the Dixie Dregs. He was a remarkable guitarist in his own right. He joined Deep Purple in 1994, twenty years after the band's true heyday, so I understand why he was not included in the eight members of the band chosen for induction. (David Coverdale was included, though I feel he should be discounted because of Whitesnake. But he is now in nonetheless.) But it does bring up the issue of bands being upset -- especially bands that have continued touring and recording for decades, as Purple has done -- when their most recent members are not included. Where is the cutoff point? Should only the "classic" period be considered, even if the band has continued apace?
  • Perhaps avoiding some cries of foul from sensitive music fans (i.e., most of the stupid internet), the producers saw fit to include a post-credit tribute to Prince, who died a short while after the ceremony was filmed. They included about a minute of his performance at the 2004 ceremony, probably the best they have ever had on the show, of His Purple Majesty owning rock 'n' roll with his massive solo on the George Harrison tribute version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Which made me look at the set design and wonder, did they not even try for the 2016 show? How drab everything looks onstage this year. Basic black may be timeless, but the show lacked visual punch.
  • Can we have a moratorium on Kid Rock being onstage at these things? And of shots of Tom Hanks (one of the executive producers) in the audience? I think there were about 14 of them, maybe more. (And was that Peter Scolari at his table?)
  • And, goddammit, put The Monkees into the Hall!



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