Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert Blu-ray Review
Since 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has honored annually the top musical figures of the past several decades. It wasn’t until 2009 that these ceremonies became available on home video. The festivities from 2014 to 2017 make up Time Life’s new two disc Blu-ray set, “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert”.
There are numerous highlights in the release, also available on four DVD’s. The 2014 ceremony tribute to inductee Linda Ronstadt at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center includes strong performances of five of her hits. Carrie Underwood shines on a solo vocal rendition of “Different Drum”, Ronstadt’s 1968 single as part of The Stone Poneys (and written by Mike Nesmith). Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris then join Underwood for a great version of “Blue Bayou” followed by Sheryl Crow and Glenn Frey added to the trio to sing “You’re No Good”. Stevie Nicks then takes lead vocals on “It’s So Easy”, ending with all the women together for “When Will I Be Loved?”.
Seeing honoree Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) sing his 70s hits “Father and Son”, “Wild World”, and “Peace Train” at the 2014 Rock Hall gathering is a treat. Also, Bruce Springsteen and inductees the E Street Band perform a nice version of “The E Street Shuffle”, but it’s too bad that the other songs they played that night, "The River" and “Kitty’s Back", are not included.
2015’s ceremony took place at Cleveland’s Public Hall, with another top notch group of inductees. Honorees Green Day play an enthusiastic set of “American Idiot”, “When I Come Around”, and “Basket Case”. The group’s lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong in accepting his award, talks about his early musical influences. He says, “If anything, it’s a lot of people here right now. It’s like my record collection is actually sitting in this room”.
Inductees Joan Jett & The Blackhearts are joined by Dave Grohl on The Runaways single “Cherry Bomb” and Tommy James and Miley Cyrus for James’ and Jett’s hit, “Crimson and Clover”. Inductee Bill Withers, unfortunately, doesn’t sing solo on “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean On Me”, but he does have Stevie Wonder and John Legend doing the vocal honors in his place.
Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison are in the audience for Ringo Starr’s induction, with the speech by Paul McCartney. Green Day backs Starr on an excellent version of “Boys”, with Armstrong adding some tasty lead guitar licks. Starr’s brother-in-law Joe Walsh then accompanies him onstage, along with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra, for “It Don’t Come Easy”. McCartney, Walsh, Green Day, Peter Wolf, Beck, and others follow for the finale of “I Wanna Be Your Man”.
Two bands formed in Illinois feature in the 2016 Barclays Center ceremony, inductees Chicago and Cheap Trick. Since this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, musical reunions are always important parts of the ceremonies. For those two groups, that would be their former drummers. Chicago’s Danny Seraphine joins the group onstage for the first time in 25 years for “Saturday in the Park”, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, and “25 or 6 to 4”. Bun E. Carlos rejoins Cheap Trick for the first time since 2010 on “I Want You to Want Me”, “Dream Police”, and “Surrender”, with the jam finale of “Ain’t That a Shame” including the guitar intro echoing the group’s “At Budokan” album.
Steve Miller’s 2016 induction and three song set isn’t included in the Blu-ray and DVD, which might not be a surprise after he criticized the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame organization following the ceremony. But he is shown on camera receiving a guitar, with a Miller beer like logo on it, on stage as a gift from fellow honoree Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick.
2017’s ceremony, held again at the Barclays Center, finds former Journey lead singer Steve Perry sharing the stage with his ex-bandmates for the Hall of Fame induction. Regrettably, Perry did not sing with the group that night, but the band performs three songs with current vocalist Arnel Pineda (who sounds extremely similar to Perry). David Letterman, filling in for Neil Young, inducts Pearl Jam, who also follow with a three song set. Honorees Jeff Lynne and ELO open the ceremony with a tribute to Chuck Berry by performing “Roll Over Beethoven”, which the group first recorded in 1973. That’s followed by “Evil Woman” and “Mr. Blue Sky”, and the induction speech by Dhani Harrison. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush induct Yes, with Lee playing bass with the band on “Roundabout”.
Besides Miller’s honors, several other events from the four Rock and Roll Hall of Fame commemorations are omitted from the discs. The 2014 ceremony is missing inductions and performances from Daryl Hall and John Oates and Kiss. Also, Peter Asher’s induction of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Rolling Stones manager and record producer Andrew Loog Oldham was edited from the video. Yet, Hall is seen applauding for inductee Peter Gabriel after his performance with Youssou N’Dour of “In Your Eyes” that night, and Asher is shown when mentioned by Frey during Ronstadt’s induction. Asher was Ronstadt’s longtime producer.
A performance by Starr and others on “With a Little Help From My Friends” is left out of the 2015 ceremony coverage. Additionally, Wonder and Legend’s rendition of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” and two of three songs by inductees Double Trouble (Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band) are not found on the discs. We also don’t get to see Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O and Nick Zinner cover one of honoree Lou Reed’s songs, and Steve Cropper’s induction speech for The 5 Royales in the Early Influences category.
Along with Miller’s sequences, 2016 ceremony homages to David Bowie (“Fame”) by David Byrne, The Roots and Kimbra, and Frey (“New Kid In Town”) from Crow and Grace Potter aren’t part of the Blu-ray and DVD release.
Nile Rodgers’ 2017 induction in the Award For Musical Excellence category is absent, as well as a Prince tribute that night from Lenny Kravitz. Plus, a medley of Tupac Shakur’s songs by Alicia Keys isn’t included either.
Technically, the picture and sound quality on the Blu-ray discs are excellent. Audio is a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or 2.0 Stereo. Total running times are approximately 315 minutes for disc 1 and 359 minutes for disc 2. There are no captions for the discs. No bonus features are added. A booklet is included, listing the contents for each induction ceremony.
All in all, the “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert” is a fun Blu-ray set to watch.
© 2018 Marshall Fish