Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Performance Report

Marry, (blank), kill - go!.

I was stuck in the office late trying to get everything in order before heading down to Austin, so I missed the first hour or so. I then DVR'd the rest and fast-forwarded through everything that wasn't a performance. No speeches for me. Speeches aren't very rock-and-roll. Except for this one, of course. Some quick thoughts on the performances I did catch.

Damien Rice
He was paired up with Leonard Cohen. So guess which song he played? Hint: It wasn't "Suzanne." It's just about time to put a temporary moratorium on playing this song, at least solo, unaccompanied versions. If Slayer or Clipse want to tackle it, then by all means, have at it, fellas. While we're on the topic, there is some serious insanity going on in the comments section of our "Hallelujah" poll. The Constantine fans (and haters) have discovered Post Rock. And things will never be the same.

Iggy and the Stooges
I don't think you can say this was good, but it was at least different and scared the hell out of everyone in attendance except for Madonna, Timberlake and, most likely, Lou Reed. Speaking of Lou and Iggy, what's with these old punk rock dudes and their dedication to being muscle men? "Burning Up" was a bit of a trainwreck but they got into the groove, so to speak, with "Ray of Light." Ron Asheton played a monster riff that sounded like a variation of "Kick Out the Jams," Steve Mackay made some skronky noise on sax, Mike Watt looked somewhat possessed and Iggy was absolutely possessed. There was a Shatner-esque vibe to the vocals, with that very deliberate and forceful speak-sing where you're used to hearing some soaring female voice. It was a bit hypnotic and it certainly kept my attention but that doesn't mean it's something I'd want to watch ever again.

John Mellencamp
Give the Coug credit, he's a pro. Maybe he's not the most exciting songwriter and he has all the subtlety of ... well, I don't know how to complete this sentence because in most cases I'd say "John Mellencamp." In any case, when he started into "Pink Houses" I was ready to be dismissive but by the time he wrapped up "Authority Song" I was won over. The latter is great fun, even if it does rip off Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law" in every possible way. But it swings a little, it rocks a little, has the standard "Repeat a Phrase Approximately 49 Times" rule that Mellencamp follows for most of his songs. That's the secret to his success. Maybe he's not the most inspired Hall of Fame choice, but he's a "good guy" with a good story and all variety of Hall of Fame voters like that. Luis Aparicio got in the Hall of Fame with a .311 on-base percentage, y'know? Maybe John Hiatt is the better rootsy singer-songwriter from Indiana, and maybe Bobby Grich is a more deserving Hall of Famer than Little Louie. But after the Coug's three song performance last night, I wasn't going to make some great argument against him.

Joan Jett
Not the most likely performer to pay tribute to the Dave Clark Five, but it worked out well enough. Maybe she was trying to earn some brownie points for a possible future induction. She looks pretty much the same as she did in the "I Love Rock 'N Roll" video, which is to say, plenty foxy and intimidating. A lot of that early British beat stuff would sound fine if you played it a bit louder, faster and more aggressively, which is what Jett did. She was joined by John Fogerty, Billy Joel and The Coug for the finale, a fun romp through "Glad All Over." Usually these multi-star performances are a total clusterfunk, but whenever Fogerty's involved it's always 25-30% better. And it's pretty hard to mess up "Glad All Over." I was a bit worried that Billy Joel's piano was on a stand with wheels, but disaster was averted.

By David Malitz |  March 11, 2008; 4:38 PM ET Hall of Fame
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"The Constantine fans (and haters) have discovered Post Rock. And things will never be the same"

Kind of like what happened when the NeoCons discovered Arkin's "Early Warning" blog?

Posted by: wiredog | March 12, 2008 9:11 AM

I never would have guessed that Madonna felt close enough to Iggy to ask him to perform her songs onstage. The celebrity world is truly different from our world. Still a shame that The Stooges aren't in the Hall of Fame yet.

As for Constantine: don't the American Idle fans have their own blogs to pollute? Funny how they list multi-generational appeal as a selling point of his music. I don't want to listen to music that appeals to children (except maybe the early Beatles songs). Keep Post Rock for adults and mature teens, please.

(That last sentence sounds dirty, but it's honest.)

Posted by: SSMD | March 12, 2008 11:22 AM

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