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Sunday, April 15, 2018

ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: IN CONCERT -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

The best way to get a bunch of famous entertainers together, it seems, is to hold a big self-congratulatory ceremony full of gushing tributes in their honor and start throwing awards at them.
Time-Life's new 2-disc Blu-ray set ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: IN CONCERT is a document of four such awards shows from 2014-2017, and sure enough, there are tons and tons of famous musicians seemingly coming out of the woodwork to be there to speechify and perform.

Each of the dozens of inductees, both groups and solo artists, gets one of those gushing tribute speeches from a fellow musician/fan and then performs a selection of their best songs.  Those who have passed on or couldn't make it have their songs reverently interpreted by others. 

Needless to say, it's a grab-bag of goodies and not-so-goodies, and your enjoyment of these four celebrity-packed events as a whole will depend on how eclectic your musical tastes are.  But no matter what you're into, you're likely to find at least some of it here.

One of the main attractions is the fact that some of these bands are reuniting for the first time in years and feature members from different lineups who haven't performed together before.

And some of the sets have special guests joining in to form impromptu all-star bands with various frontmen, lead guitarists, etc. all combining their considerable forces.

My favorite segment is when one of my all-time favorite bands, prog-rock pioneers Yes, finally gets their long-overdue accolades.  After an introductory speech by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, Lee takes the late Chris Squire's place on bass for a kickass rendition of "Roundabout" followed by "Owner of a Lonely Heart", with members from most of the group's incarnations represented.

Another favorite is the (again long-overdue) induction of Ringo Starr by Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney himself. I love Ringo and it's great whenever he gets his time in the sun as he does here, performing with one of those all-star bands including Paul, Joe Walsh, and more.

Other artists honored include Electric Light Orchestra, Peter Gabriel, Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan (brother Jimmie performs in his place),Lou Reed, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, NWA, Bill Withers, Joan Baez, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Chicago, Journey, Green Day, Cat Stevens, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Tupac Shakur, and Pearl Jam.

As one might guess, the fawning induction speeches are a seriously hit-or-miss proposition.  Some are rather charming, as the one for ELO by George Harrison's son Dhani, and McCartney's for Ringo. Most are insufferably boring. A few, such as Miley Cyrus' monologue on Joan Jett, are downright obnoxious. 

The often-rambling acceptance speeches run the same gamut, albeit with much more thanking of wives, children, lifelong musical influences, etc. My favorite, surprisingly, was that of Yes keyboard whiz Rick Wakeman, whose speech took the form of a hilariously off-color stand-up comedy routine ("I think my wife's in a coma, but I'm not sure--the sex is the same, but the wash is piling up.")

If you're like me, you'll be hitting the fast-forward button to get past a lot of this and on to the music--and even skipping through much of it as well.  But those with wider tastes than mine, who scan the above list of performers and can't wait to sample most or all of their performances, will be in hog heaven throughout most of ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME: IN CONCERT.


Type: DVD (4 Discs)/Blu-ray (2 Discs)
Running Time: 674 mins.
Genre: Music
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (16 x 9)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/Stereo 2.0
Bonus: illustrated program booklet
Release date: 4/24/18


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