What I liked about The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert on Friday night was that it is the perfect format for people with short attention spans. Seeing four bands, each with around 3 "special guests" is the right amount of time to enjoy the music without having to delve into each of their back catalogs. It was a great show, and fun all around, but a big disappointment that they didn't do an "everybody get on stage and sing one last song" kind of thing that they did the night before.
Even though we were sitting in what used to be called the Green section, for the price to sit in Orange or Yellow, I think we made the right decision. Between the giant screens and binoculars, it was ok to be in the back. It was really pricey, but my friend who bought the tickets found many ways to justify it with, "But it's just $44 per band, or that amount per hour, which is less than a massage." What really put the prices over the top was the DISGUSTING $25 service fee per ticket.
Since I had stalked the show on twitter, there turned out to be only one surprise, and that was Patti Smith playing with U2 and Bruce Springsteen. They played her legendary song "Because the Night" and the first time round it went pretty badly with the sound fading in and out. So they did it again and it went swimmingly.
Aretha Franklin came on stage with a 23 piece backup singer/orchestra combination. Her duets with Annie Lennox and Lenny Kravitz were, not surprisingly, great, but unlike the way the other 3 bands handled their guests, Aretha remained the main focus and the singers were very much background. Annie Lennox was wearing a disturing "HIV Positive" t-shirt which I found out later is to promote a South African charity that she works for that provides financial help to HIV positive women in that country.
Jeff Beck and his band put on their usual fantastic guitar-themed show, and were joined by Sting, blues legend Buddy Guy and that guy from ZZ Top. I continue to be fascinated with the young woman on bass who has been touring with Jeff Beck, Tal Wilkenfeld who is 23 years old and an incredible talent.
I thought Metallica had the most rocking set and also the most interesting guests paired with them. They started out by saying that they aren't a "jam" kind of band, and that this was a new experience for them. Metallica playing other people's music is a little jarring, but after the initial shock, it turned into a truly great set and showcased their talents and ability to diversify (if they wanted to). They played with Lou Reed, Ozzy Osbourne and Ray Davies.
A friend asked me about U2 and whether they seemed all packaged up. I hadn't thought about it before, but their music under all that electronica is part of what I don't like about them. It turned out that they were not at all packaged, and their performance brought me one step closer to enjoying their music. The main thing for me is that they play and sing in a higher register than what stirs my soul. I can't get past it and can't get excited about them, even though so many of their songs are part of our collective pop radio culture.
Mick Jagger, Black Eyed Peas, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith joined U2 on stage in various combinations. The most exciting part of the evening was Mick Jagger, but then it turned weird with his duet with Fergie on Gimme Shelter. While Fergie has the powerful voice to sing pretty much anything, her stage presence is so annoying that it is very, very difficult to have anything positive to say about her. The other 4 singers that make up Black Eyed Peas were pretty serious looking and perhaps explains their popularity, but with Fergie prancing around, it was distracting and irritating, and I truly wish she would go away and make room for the plenty of other woman who can sing beautifully but aren't idiots.
Here is one woman who was sitting a couple rows in front of me, who wasn't enjoying the show at all.