2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Blah Blah Blah Rush is in the Hall

Finally.

Fourteen years after eligibility, Rush’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came with cheers and even some jeers aimed at those believed responsible for the long overdue honor. Rush, along with classic rock darlings Heart, and six others, were inducted Thursday at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles for the 28th annual ceremony.

“We have been saying for a long time it’s not a big deal,” said drummer Neil Peart who took the podium first. “It turns out, it kind of is.”

The overwhelmingly Rush crowd roared at nearly every mention of the band and half the audience delivered a standing ovation at the beginning of the five-hour long show when it was announced who the inductees were. Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters inducted Rush. Grohl taped into fans’ impatience and frustration with the Hall of Fame committees failure to nominate the band by reciting every Rush album to a growing chorus of cheers.

“Their influence is undeniable,” Grohl said. “They have always been cool!”

Geddy Lee, singer and bassist for Rush, thanked the fans and paid homage by describing them as the most passionate and most dedicated fan base around the globe. Guitarist Alex Lifeson concluded the evening by giving one of the most comical and poignant speeches ever given at an awards ceremony. Certainly, at the very least, he summed up the majority of the evening’s long-winded, tedious and sometimes cumbersome introductions and acceptance speeches. He simply said “Blah” over and over articulating different tones and body language but the funny thing is the audience knew exactly what he meant.

After leaving the stage to prepare for a short set the Foo Fighters emerged dressed in white kimonos poking fun of the band’s photo from the album 2112 and proceeded to play the Overture section of the iconic “2112.” Lee, Peart and Lifeson finished the set with “Tom Sawyer” and “Spirit of Radio.”

The Hall of Fame committee’s pass of Rush for so long not only rankled fans but in many respects diminished the perceived value for any band’s induction. Check that – any rock band’s induction. Rush is not the martyr here either. Heart’s induction is well over due and a number of groups still on the outs like Kiss, Yes and Deep Purple continue to undermine whatever the Hall’s mission or vision is.

A petition to get Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame began years ago and theories abound why it took so long. The band’s seemingly libertarian views, well-noted on 1976’s acclaimed 2112 album, is not a stretch considering the likely paternalistic ideology of the Hall’s voting committee. But it’s quite possible the band just simply was not respected or liked for whatever reason.

Not once has Rush graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Jann Wenner, co-founder and publisher of that magazine is also co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. This is not to say Rolling Stone is the end all be all, as its relevancy died a long time ago, however one can easily connect the dots. Wenner received an earful from the crowd when he delivered introductory comments.

The idea of a Hall of Fame typically embraces the ideals of the NFL and Major League Baseball. Hall of Fame players tend to have all or some characteristics of longevity, consistency, milestones/records and expertise at their given position. In short, the best of the best – like for example a band that has sold 40 million records worldwide and who rank third behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones for the most gold and platinum records by a rock band. Suffice it to say, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame always feels more popularity contest.

Case in point, Rush’s popularity in recent years has soared thanks in part to the well-received Beyond the Lighted Stage documentary. And, unlike in past decades, people who don’t like Rush today at least respect the band for their longevity and overwhelming accomplishments. It’s pretty hard to knock a band consisting of the same members for nearly 40 years with 20 studio albums and still tours to sold-out arenas and amphitheaters.

The Rock and Roll Hall certainly has done right by artists like The Who, Elvis Presley, Black Sabbath and the Beatles, just to name a few. However, Madonna? Red Hot Chili Peppers? Sounds more like Bubblegum Pop Hall of Fame. The one-album wonder Sex Pistols? And Public Enemy in Thursday’s ceremony? Since when is the spoken word set to computer-aided sampled music considered rock and roll?  Certainly it makes one pause when Chuck D spends time in his acceptance speech defending rap as a legitimate form of music and justifying why the group belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Perhaps the line of the evening therefore goes to Don Henley in his induction speech for Randy Newman. Lamenting on what he believed was Newman’s long overdue recognition he described the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a “peculiar and perplexing organization.”

The list of questionable acts in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is nearly as long as who actually deserves to be in it. Perhaps, then, the Hall should change its name to Music Hall of Fame if the desire is to represent all forms of music and musical expression much like the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. Otherwise the American Pop Music Hall of Fame, opening this summer in Pennsylvania, might be a better spot for pop artists. Of course, many of the inaugural inductees in the Pop Music Hall already have honors in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock Music Hall of Fame anyone?

2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees:

Rush
Heart
Public Enemy
Donna Summer
Albert King
Randy Newman
Quincy Jones
Lou Adler

Setlist for Rush:

2112 (Overture) –played by Foo Fighters
Tom Sawyer
Spirit of Radio

Setlist for Heart:

Crazy on You
Dreamboat Annie
Barracuda

Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: OMD Maneuvers Out of the Dark

The 1980s came to life on Sunday as one of that decades most beloved bands stopped by Portland’s Wonder Ballroom during an international tour to support their latest album English Electric.

Andy McCluskey

OMD singer/bassist Andy McCluskey

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, affectionately called OMD, put on a stellar performance and gave us reason to believe that music is not dead and perhaps a resurgence in 80s new wave music is just around the corner. OMD’s “classic lineup” (the term now used to differentiate what is considered to be a band’s authentic core members from the revolving door of members over the years) proved to be just as fresh today as they were 30 years ago.

Certainly, singer/bassist Andy McCluskey, keyboardist/singer Paul Humphreys, keyboardist/saxophonist Martin Cooper and drummer Malcolm Holmes no longer look the part of 80s new wavers but the substance, music and even dance moves were all present and accounted for.

Smash hits and what sounds to be a solid new album (English Electric is not available until Tuesday) showcased an astonishing youthful McCluskey vocal. His tone with that slight British drawl was ripped from the band’s albums and his pitch was spot on. At 53 years young, the man has lost neither his voice nor his groove. Humphrey’s, who sometimes shares vocal duties, shined on “Secrets.”

Andy McCluskey 2

Andy McCluskey dancing

Admitting his dancing was a tad ridiculous, McCluskey nonetheless entertained the near sold-out house crowd of probably 700 with some funky self-hugging moves that proved to be almost hypnotic to watch. He worked himself into a drench during “Maid of Orleans” with fantastic strobe lighting effects and by the end McCluskey was in a pant.

OMD’s penchant for keyboard/synth pop is evident the second the band takes the stage – no guitars. Their latest single “Metroland” which opened the 21-song set, save for “Decimal” which the band walked on stage to and was simply a recording, shows the band embracing their roots and charting new territory with its near epic seven-plus minute long discourse.

Paul Humphreys

OMD keyboardist/singer Paul Humphreys

OMD struck gold in the United States with 1986’s “If You Leave” an anthem of sorts for love-sick teenagers of the day. Despite their popularity and a host of other hit singles McCluskey admitted in a recent interview that America thinks of them as a one-hit wonder. On Sunday, McCluskey introduced the “Pretty in Pink” hymn as a song everyone in the room likely danced to at their prom.

With fellow 80s power pop group Depeche Mode embarking on an arena tour this summer it’s almost shocking to see such a talented and very nostalgic band like OMD headlining small ballrooms. Perhaps their rise in the United States fell short after the current line up split in 1988 only to reunite in 2006. The band released History of Modern in 2010. Additionally, what’s rather annoying is touring English Electric, the band’s 12th album,  before it’s even released. “Metroland” has been available on the band’s website for some time but as for the rest of the album the audience heard it for the first time Sunday.

Die-hards here in the states, OMD holds on to a much popular following in Europe, may be the only ones to hear the new album but here’s the thing – put OMD on any pop station today, tout them as a new British invasion and no one will ever remember Gotye. “Joan of Arc,” “Enola Gay” and “So in Love” stand the test of time and would you believe the nearly 40-year old “Electricity” OMD’s oldest song which they closed the evening with, sounded just as fresh and relevant as it did so many decades ago.

McCluskey promised to be back just as he promised 18 months ago, though he said, probably not as quick. Let’s just hope for their sake and music lovers everywhere they can step out of a small NE Portland venue and get on a stage where they belong.

OMD Portland Setlist (Wonder Ballroom):

  1. Metroland
  2. Messages
  3. Dresden
  4. Radio Waves
  5. History of Modern (Part 1)
  6. (Forever) Live and Die
  7. If You Leave
  8. Souvenir
  9. Night Café
  10. Joan of Arc
  11. Maid of Orleans
  12. Our System
  13. Kissing the Machine
  14. So in Love
  15. Sister Mary Says
  16. Locomotion
  17. Sailing on the Seven Seas
  18. Enola Gay
  19. Walking on the Milky Way
  20. Secrets
  21. Electricity

Written By: AndrewT