ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrated 25 years at Madison Square Garden in New York City last night. The first of two concerts offered a lineup of rock and roll heroes, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby Stills and Nash.
Our critic, Will Hermes was there and offers this review.
(Soundbite of cheering)
Unidentified Man: Welcome to the party.
WILL HERMES: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a perpetual problem whenever it stages an event, how do you fairly represent rocks hardscrabble spirit and history in the context of what often seems like a backslapping soiree of superstars? Last nights concert, for all its great moments, was no different.
(Soundbite of the song)
Unidentified Man: I said, come on over, baby (unintelligible).
HERMES: After a musical benediction by Jerry Lee Lewis, Crosby Stills & Nash played some of their hits, then brought out Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and James Taylor to play some of theirs. It was a 70s Southern California love-in, and everyone sounded pretty great. But aside from a beautifully sloppy cover of the Allman Brothers Midnight Rider, rock history seemed to be only about songs these very famous artists made famous themselves.
(Soundbite of song, You Can Call Me Al)
Unidentified Man: I can call you Betty and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al.
HERMES: Paul Simon did a slightly more ambitious job of telling rock and rolls history, to paraphrase the concerts advertised mission. In between his solo material on a set with Art Garfunkel, he brought out Dion DiMucci, who sang his 1961 hit, The Wanderer. Then Simon handed the stage off to the doo-wop legends, Little Anthony and the Imperials.
(Soundbite of song)
LITTLE ANTHONY AND THE IMPERIALS (Singers): (Singers) Just two kinds of people in the world. They are a boy and girl.
HERMES: If anyone was entitled to sing his catalog, it was Stevie Wonder. But his first song was Bob Dylans Blowin in the Wind, and then a cover of Michael Jacksons The Way You Make Me Feel, reconnected the late, troubled King of Pop to the magnificent Motown lineage that raised him into its greatest star. The set went even higher with a version of Superstition that added guitarist Jeff Beck for extra fire.
(Soundbite of song, Superstition)
Mr. STEVIE WONDER: Yeah, its a big night.
HERMES: Finally, Bruce Springsteen took the stage for a two-hour overtime session. And in one of those endlessly amazing displays of Springsteenianism, he managed to gracefully acknowledge every one of the evenings problems and contradictions, while simultaneously transcending them. He played to the cheap seats cracking wise about the ticket prices, which topped $2,000. He decried homelessness and the stock market scandal to a crowd that looked to me like it contained a sizable Wall Street contingent. And he gave much of his set over to legends less famous than himself, like Sam and Dave, Sam Moore, and Darlene Love, the voice of countless Phil Spector recordings and one of just two women in this rock and roll mens room.
(Soundbite of song, Run, Run, Run)
Unidentified Man: He just looking good when he first time you run, run, run, and you run, run, and then you run, run, run, and you run, run. (Unintelligible) then you run, run, run, and you run, run.
HERMES: Bruce ended by noting that Darlene Love, somewhat shamefully, has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But after their performance, which was the nights most joyous, that should change. And in my mind, that sort of triumph is what rock and rolls history is all about.
(Soundbite of song, Born to Run)
Mr. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (Musician): (Singing) from cages out on highway 9, chrome wheeled, fuel injected and stepping out
SIEGEL: Thats critic Will Hermes. The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame celebration continues with a second concert tonight.
(Soundbite of song)
Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) from your back its a death trap, its a suicide rap. We got to get out while were young.
SIEGEL: Youre listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
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