Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony: Eyewitness report
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"The class of 2010 represents diversity!" So said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame head honcho Jann Wenner at the start of this year's induction shindig, which was held Monday evening in New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Whether that was the sound of a man relishing rock's rich pageant or making lemonade out of some collectively strange-tasting lemons is a debatable point. But there's no doubt this year's crop of inductees—Genesis, the Hollies, the Stooges, Jimmy Cliff, and ABBA—had very little in common, save a willingness to turn up and be feted by their musical peers at the annual celebration of rockitude.
The performances were as varied as the terpsichoreal stylings. Genesis, for example, didn't play at all, leaving Phish to competently tackle chunks of the prog-rockers' back catalog. Meanwhile, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff tore the place up with renditions of his classic tracks "You Can Get it if You Really Want," "Many Rivers To Cross," and a Wyclef Jean-assisted "The Harder They Come." Cliff and his fabulous silver jacket even topped Iggy Pop, who, it is perhaps needless to note, went shirtless fronting the Stooges as they stormed through "Search and Destroy" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog." ABBA were represented musically by Benny Andersson, who accompanied Faith Hill on piano for a version of "The Winner Takes It All," and the Hollies sounded merely like an agreeable-ish wedding band, despite boasting the vocal talents of both Graham Nash and Adam Levine from Maroon 5.
Actually, attending the chicken dinner-featuring event was very much like going to someone's nuptials, except that instead of the best man making a speech about the time the groom got an unfortunate rash in Amsterdam, Phish's Trey Anastasio illuminated us on the excellence of Genesis' complex time signatures. And that was by no means the end of the speechifying. Steven Van Zandt took time out to note the current "spiritual bankruptcy" of the record business when he inducted the Hollies, Billie Joe Armstrong recited a lengthy list of the acts that had been inspired by the Stooges—one that concluded with "…and my own f—ing band"— and Iggy Pop himself appeared close to tears as he ruminated on his reformed combo's "lovely, lovely, second act."
Finally, Benny Andersson pointed out that while his native Sweden may not be steeped in blues music, it is steeped in being darned cold, which he claimed explains both the films of Ingmar Bergman and the more melancholic moments of ABBA's own oeuvre. Thank you for the entertaining amateur psychology, Benny! And, of course, the music.
So, what do you think of this year's Hall of Fame inductees? And who would you like to see get the nod in 2011? Let us know!
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