For Pearl jam fans all over the world, especially those of us in the Barclays Center Friday night, April 7th, 2017 will always hold a special place in our hearts. On this day, our beloved band was officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Right at the start of the show as introductions of the inductees were being made, a deafening roar came over the arena right as Pearl Jam’s name was about to be spoken. In fact, there was a five-minute standing ovation before their name was even read.
Once Eddie Vedder’s face was shown on the giant screens at the sides of the stage, the crowd got even louder with chants of, “Eddie, Eddie!”We’ll get back to Pearl Jam later. First, let me tell you about some of the highlights of the night, as there were quite a few.
The Chuck Berry Tribute by ELO
Jeff Lynne’s ELO were given the honor of opening the show prior to their induction with a tribute to the first ever inductee into the Rock Hall, Chuck Berry.
Starting out with a little of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the band's orchestra set the stage for a rocking cover of Roll Over Beethoven. From there the band gave us ELO favorite Evil Woman followed by their induction into the Hall by Dhani Harrison whose father and Jeff Lynne were like family.
Folk legend Joan Baez told a great story during her speech about how her granddaughter had no idea who she was. "My granddaughter had no clue who I was until I took her backstage at a Taylor Swift concert," Baez joked. “Now she knows who I am.” The woman who started the folk movement and helped Bob Dylan get his start was one of those long overdue inductees for sure.
YES Members Reunite on Stage
The surviving members of YES took the stage together for the first time since 1992’s Unity Tour. Over the last few years, the surviving members have broken off into two camps touring and playing YES songs.
Some members of the band decided it was open mic night at a comedy club as keyboardist, Rick Wakeman had us rolling in the aisles with his speech. After the comedy show, all the members of YES reunited on stage with Jon Anderson singing with the band for the first time since 2004.
Tupac’s Induction and All-Star Tribute
For me, the other induction I was looking forward to was Tupac’s. He was a huge part of my generation's hip hop world and even that is an understatement. Snoop Dogg gave an amazing speech from the heart about his best friend who he lost all those years ago.
Following Snoop’s acceptance of the induction in Tupac’s honor, we were treated to one of the greatest Tupac classics. Alicia Keys played a medley of Tupac followed by YG and Snoop giving us the classic 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.
Treach from Naughty by Nature gave us Hail Mary followed by T.I in a full blown Tupac outfit and Snoop performing Keep Ya Head Up.
Steve Perry Reunites with Journey (Sort Of)
The biggest question leading up to the ceremony was if Steve Perry would show up and if he did, would he perform with his former bandmates for the first time in over two decades. The answer to the first question was yes. Perry was front and center with his former band to accept the induction honor.
In fact, Perry got the biggest roar from the crowd all night (aside from Pearl Jam), showing his faithful fans have never forgotten him. Perry gave a great speech and then the lights dimmed for the performance part of the induction. Sadly, the answer to question number two is no, as current Journey singer, Arnel Pineda performed with the band.
To my shock, Pineda sounds almost identical to Perry. The band gave great performances of classics, Separate Ways and Lights, before bringing everything to a sing along with the crowd, Don’t Stop Believing. I'm glad Steve Perry showed up and even though he didn’t perform, I hope it gave fans, the band, and Perry the closure they were looking for.
The Prince Tribute
Last week I said that if Lenny Kravitz doesn’t play Purple Rain I would be very disappointed. Well the Prince Tribute didn’t include Purple Rain, but I was blown away by what Kravitz put together.
With his band behind him and a gospel choir on either side of him, Kravitz took us to church in a way that the Purple One would have been proud of. With rearranged versions of When Doves Cry and The Cross.
While slightly disappointed that we didn’t get a song closer to its original form, Kravitz did a great job for sure.
The Main Event Hosted by David Letterman
When word got out that Neil Young was sick and couldn’t be there to induct Pearl Jam, fans, myself included, were disappointed. David Letterman, who is a huge fan of the band and a close friend of Eddie Vedder’s stepped in. I think it may have been a blessing in disguise as Letterman gave an amazing speech.
Dave told a personal story about how after Eddie performed on one of the last three shows Letterman did before retiring (or for being fired for abusing the copy machine as he said) and giving Dave a guitar as a gift for his son. Dave read the note that Eddie wrote to his son along with the guitar and it put a lot into perspective about Eddie and the band.
Each member of the band and original drummer Dave Krusen gave great speeches and took longtime fans like
The lights went out as it was time for Pearl Jam’s performance. As a fan, my list of what I would want to hear is long. With only three songs, the band played what I think represent the band best and what they mean to fans. Alive was played with Dave Krusen for the first time in 25 years.
Eddie took a second to speak to Michael J. Fox who was in the crowd and explained that in Fox’s book he wrote that he listened to the band Given To Fly as inspiration through a lot of tough times. Eddie dedicated the song to Fox who you could see was very emotional. As Given to Fly kicked in, I felt 25 years of a journey with a band that means everything to me culminate and it was at this moment that I got emotional myself.
Every album, every concert, every time I needed them and they were there for me to inspire me and help me along my path, all lead to this moment, seeing them take their place among the immortals of music. I am so grateful to have been able to be in attendance that night and I will never forget it.
After a crowd-pleasing Better Man, the band was joined on stage for an all-star Jam to bring the night to a close. Of course, the song had to be Rockin in the Free World dedicated to “Uncle Neil.” As members of YES, Journey, and Geddy Lee rocked the crowd to their core, Eddie ran around the stage waving and thanking fans.
It was the perfect close to a great night of music history.