“So here we are…in the belly of the beast. A lot of power and money in this room.”
That cheeky line came from Iggy Pop during The Stooges’ induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. It’s also featured in Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert — Encore, a wonderfully comprehensive collection of the four induction ceremonies between 2010 and 2013. The 2-disc Blu-ray set features over 8 hours of content, including full induction speeches and 44 musical performances from rock and roll icons and rising stars. Iggy was right about the power and money in the room; this set features some of the biggest names in the history of music…plus A-listers like Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey!
The 2010 and 2011 ceremonies are featured on Disc 1, while the 2012 and 2013 ceremonies can be found on Disc 2. Let’s dive right in!
The 25th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
The Blu-ray set kicks off with an impressive and varied assortment of honorees. The 2010 ceremony also establishes the familiar template for these induction ceremonies, which typically air on HBO: the evening opens with a musical performance, followed by the induction the musical act whose song was performed up top. Then the evening settles into a lively and familiar induction speech/acceptance speech/musical performance cadence.
Following the low-key and charming segment with Genesis, things really kick into high gear when Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong offers a funny, profane, and heartfelt induction of The Stooges. (I love that Iggy Pop impatiently starts removing his shirt during the band’s acceptance speech in anticipation of The Stooges performing on stage a few minutes later.) The E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt (seemingly a fixture at each Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony) effectively gives The Hollies their due for their role in the British Invasion, while legendary bandleader Paul Shaffer (another fixture at these ceremonies) quickly accepts his accolades from Rolling Stone magazine’s Jann Wenner in order to keep the show rolling along.
As far as the musical performances go, the night belonged to The Stooges, who absolutely command the stage for their double shot of “Search and Destroy” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” These ceremonies also specialize in bringing rock icons and current stars together, which results here in a lively collaboration between The Hollies and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael, along with Train’s Pat Monahan. In fact, my two least favorite performances of the night were Phish’s noodling, indulgent opening tribute to Genesis, and Faith Hill failing to bring the drama for her cover of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All.” (Oh well…at least the ABBA segment resulted in some strong reaction shots of Mamma Mia! star Meryl Streep in the audience.)
Genesis: “Watcher of the Skies” (performed by Phish).
The Stooges: “Search and Destroy” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (featuring Billie Joe Armstrong).
The Hollies: “Bus Stop,” (featuring Jesse Carmichael and Adam Levine with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra) “Carrie-Anne,” (featuring Jesse Carmichael and Adam Levine with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra) and Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress) (featuring Pat Monahan and Steven Van Zandt with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra).
Abba: “The Winner Takes It All” (featuring Faith Hill with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra).
The 26th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
This ceremony changes up the familiar template for these shows…and I’m not a fan. Instead of sticking with the intro speech/acceptance speech/musical performance rhythm, the 2011 ceremony decided to pack most of the intro/acceptance speeches into the top of the show, leaving the bulk of the music for the second half. The result is a ceremony that is heavy on speeches (and distressingly light on music) during the first half.
Don’t get me wrong: some of the speeches are pretty entertaining. I particularly enjoyed Bette Midler genuinely fawning over newly-minted Hall of Famer Darlene Love. Fellow presenter Rob Zombie even brings heads on sticks to re-enact the first meeting between Frank Zappa and new inductee Alice Cooper. Meanwhile, Neil Young eschews both notes and a teleprompter to speak from the heart about Tom Waits. But it’s Elton John who most successfully combines charm and elegance as he inducts Leon Russell.
I just wish the show had spread out some of these solid speeches throughout the ceremony’s two hours and mixed in more music. At least the one musical act that performs during the show’s first half is Alice Cooper, who succeeds in waking up the sleepy crowd. (Even though the spooky kiddie backup singers the band enlisted for “School’s Out” were off-key.) While John Legend and Dr. John have a satisfying piano face off for “Such a Night”, the night is stolen by Tom Waits’ force of nature performance of “Make It Rain” and Darlene Love’s joyous show-closing set: the actress/singer looks and sounds fantastic!
Alice Cooper: “Eighteen,” “Under My Wheels” and “School’s Out” (featuring Rob Zombie).
Tom Waits: “Make It Rain,” “Rain Dogs” and “House Where Nobody Lives.”
Dr. John: “Right Place Wrong Time” (with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra) and “Such a Night” (featuring John Legend with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra).
Leon Russell: “Delta Lady” (featuring John Mayer with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra) and “A Song For You” (featuring John Mayer with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra).
Darlene Love: “Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah,” (with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra), “(Today I Met) Te Boy I’m Gonna Marry” (with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra) and “He’s a Rebel” (featuring Bette Midler with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra).
The 27th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The 2012 ceremony is definitely the most bloated show this set, clocking in at more than 2 hours and 40 minutes. (No other ceremony on this set exceeds 2 hours.) The fact that there’s a lot of filler is obvious from the start: the show kicks off with Green Day performing one of their songs, despite the fact that they wouldn’t be inducted until 2015. The random Green Day performance is followed by an address from Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. (2012 was his last year in that post.)
Once we get to the actual honorees, things start to pick up. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill recall their personal history with late honoree Freddie King, while John Mellencamp admits to outright stealing from new Hall of Famer Donovan Leitch. The best induction segment, however, features Chuck D and LL Cool J inducting the Beastie Boys. This ceremony was filmed in April 2012, and founding Beastie Boys member Adam “MCA” Yauch died in May 2012 from cancer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t well enough to attend the ceremony, but his fellow Boys do a great job paying tribute.
The ceremony ends with a nearly 50-minute segment on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, starting with an induction speech from Chris Rock(?!). Rock recounts an amusing story about seeing RHCP for the first time by accident…he thought he was attending a Grandmaster Flash show. The band also gets to perform four full songs, which is a bit much…but lead singer Anthony Kiedis and the rest of RHCP still have it! I enjoyed the energy Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall brought to his Small Faces/Faces tribute, but the best performance of the night was probably Donovan’s collaboration with John Mellencamp for “Season of the Witch.”
Green Day: “Letterbomb”
Freddie King: “Hide Away” (performed by Joe Bonamassa, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Derek Trucks) and “Going Down” (performed by Joe Bonamassa, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Derek Trucks).
Donovan: “Catch the Wind,” “Sunshine Superman” (with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra) and “Season of the Witch” (featuring John Mellencamp with Paul Shaffer and the Hall of Fame Orchestra).
Small Faces/Faces: “Ooh La La” (featuring Mick Hucknall and Conrad Korsch) and “Stay With Me” (featuring Mick Hucknall and Conrad Korsch).
Beastie Boys: “Beastie Boys Medley – No Sleep Till Brooklyn/So What ‘Cha Want/Sabotage” (featuring The Roots, Black Thought, Travie McCoy, Mix Master Mike, and Kid Rock).
Red Hot Chili Peppers: “By the Way”, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”, “Give It Away” and “Higher Ground” (with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Jam Band).
The 28th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
The final ceremony on this set is also my favorite. You certainly get more bang for your musical buck with six honorees (instead of the standard five) and a running time well below two hours.
Randy Newman kicks things off with an all-star rendition of “I Love L.A.” (featuring an assist from the late Tom Petty). The “surprise” star of the night is Gary Clark Jr., who bluesily pays tribute to Albert King during a pair of songs (“Oh, Pretty Woman” and “Born Under a Bad Sign.”) While I also enjoyed the Foo Fighters’ wigged-out tribute to Rush with “2112: Overture” during the show’s final set, the stars for me were Heart: Nancy Wilson’s opening guitar riff for “Crazy on You” is probably the most badass thing on this set, followed closely by her sister Ann’s still-powerful voice.
As far as the speeches go, it’s hard to beat Oprah Winfrey eloquently and entertainingly inducting Quincy Jones into the Hall of Fame. But John Mayer (wearing a suit and clutching a Gibson guitar in honor of Albert King) and Spike Lee (wearing the same clothes he wore as Mookie in Do the Right Thing for his induction of Public Enemy) give Lady O a run for her money. Meanwhile, the final induction speech of the night features Foo Fighters Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins exploring one of the evening’s most perplexing questions: when did Rush become cool?! (The answer, judging by their show-closing “The Spirit of Radio”, is…they were actually cool all along.)
Randy Newman: “I Love L.A.” (featuring Jackson Browne, John Fogerty, and Tom Petty) and “I’m Dead (But I Don’t Know It) (featuring Don Henley).
Albert King: “Oh, Pretty Woman” (performed by Gary Clark Jr.) and “Born Under a Bad Sign” (performed by Gary Clark Jr., Booker T. Jones, and John Mayer).
Heart: “Crazy on You” (featuring Jerry Cantrell) and “Barracuda” (featuring Jerry Cantrell, Chris Cornell, and Mike McCready)
Rush: “2112: Overture,” (featuring Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, and Nick Raskulinecz), “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio.”
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert — Encore is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average of 17 mbps. Obviously, the bitrate hovers on the low end given the fact that there is a ton of content crammed into each of these two discs. This also isn’t the most visually dynamic presentation, since each ceremony pretty much looks the exact same. Still, this remains a remarkably clean and sharp image with impressive fine detail. The smoke emanating from the stage during Tom Waits’ fiery set seems like it’s about to fill your own living room. There are also some fun and surprising pops of color, including the purple on Dr. John’s jacket and the bright green track suits for the Beastie Boys medley/tribute.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track can rock your living room when the occasion calls for it, most notably during more high-octane performances from the likes of The Stooges, Alice Cooper, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The music here gets off to a nicely understated start with the subs doing some dynamic, subtly effective work with Genesis’ percussive “Watcher of the Skies.” There are also some surprising directional whooshes during Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” Overall, this is a dynamic and versatile presentation that does justice to the music legends on stage.
As was the case with the previous Hall of Fame In Concert set I reviewed, I’m not really mad at the complete lack of special features. Some of the deep cuts and personal stories we get on this set are better than any behind-the-scenes featurette. This Time Life release also makes it easy for you to go directly to what you want to see. Each ceremony features a Play All option along with the ability to hop straight to your preferred inductee/musical performance.
Since these ceremonies go back a little further — 2010 to 2013 — we get to see a few more rock icons who are sadly no longer with us. (Here, that list includes Tom Petty, Leon Russell, and Chris Cornell.) It’s a bittersweet feeling, but even though each of these concerts previously aired on TV, this Blu-ray set is a convenient way to have a chunk of rock history in one place.