I managed to remember to record HBO’s 25th anniversary celebration concert of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this week. I watched it once (4 hours!) and wanted to go back and put down a few thoughts.
It was structured in “sets” anchored by A-list groups acting as the house band for a number of performers.The show itself opened with an introduction by Tom Hanks which was nicely poetic and then jumped to Jerry Lee Lewis doing Great Balls of Fire. It was impressive that the man can still play and a tribute to R&R’s roots but it was honestly hard to listen to. And I was hoping it wasn’t an indicator of things to come. It wasn’t… it definitely wasn’t.
Crosby Stills and Nash anchored the first set and it was absolutely inspired. CSN opened with a wonderful version of Woodstock. The harmonies were right on and Stills’ guitar work was great. It was nice to hear this song sung with a new rawness that comes from the age of the performers.
David Crosby introduced Bonnie Raitt, who performed See You Again. It was a beautiful, poignant performance (the woman can sing) and again, the harmonies with CSN were gorgeous.
Graham Nash introduce Jackson Brown. He did one of his signature peices, The Pretender with CSN harmonies and Stills playing guitar. The band mix here was great – nice bass work and the B3 provided some tastey additions. Visually, I was distracted by Nash who was a bit over-dramatic for my personal – just sing man.
Nash then introduced James Taylor (and the crowd goes wild). The hat was a nice touch – interesting watching all these musical icons age (and lose their hair). The band then jumps into Love the One You’re With – the opening guitar riff followed by that B3… nice. Taylor’s voice doing the verse was outstanding and the 4-part harmonies for the hook gave me tingles.
It was a great set and a good opener for the three and half hours to follow.
Up next – the Stevie Wonder set.