I didn’t have the highest of expectations for this DVD, since musicians don’t always turn in their strongest performances at these type of events, and all of the diverse collaborations thrown together for this event certainly had the potential to go terribly awry. Well, as I sit here still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor, I can assure you that neither was the case here. The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concerts DVD is easily one of the best concert DVDs of 2010.
This DVD trifecta includes over four hours’ worth of live performances, so it would be futile for me to try and cover every performance with this review. I will start by saying that I enthusiastically enjoyed every single performance on these DVDs. I recognize that not everyone out there has as varied a musical appetite as I do, but this excellent package oh so wonderfully demonstrates why you would be a fool not to. The queen of soul, followed by the kings of metal, followed by the princes of pop? Are you effing kidding me!?
After an impassioned opening monologue from Tom Hanks, one of the concert’s executive producers, Jerry Lee Lewis single-handedly kicks off the proceedings with a solo performance of “Great Balls Of Fire,” which ends with him defiantly kicking his piano bench to the ground. The old timer may be sounding a bit frail these days, but you could still see the ol’ rock & roll fire in his eyes. Crosby, Stills, & Nash take it from there, and along with some help from a few of their old “No Nukes” cronies, they already had me mumbling, “Man, it just don’t get much better than this!” But, oh yes, it most certainly did.
Just look at the other headliners; Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon (& Garfunkel), U2, Metallica, Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen—not too shabby. I heard that Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan were both invited and both declined the offer. And where the hell is that Zeppelin reunion concert DVD!? And the reunion tour, for that matter? A-holes!
For such a long and musically diverse concert, I was pleasantly surprised to find every performance engrossing. Not a single dud amongst them. Absolute highlights were Stevie Wonder doing “Higher Ground” and “Roxanne” with Sting, and “Superstition” with Jeff Beck; Simon & Garfunkel still finding perfect harmony together; Little Anthony and the Imperials’ amazing a cappella performance of “Two People in the World;” Metallica backing Lou Reed on “Sweet Jane;” and U2 leading “Gimme Shelter,” featuring this Mick Jagger guy, along with Fergie (from the Black Eyed Pee Stains), who absolutely rips the roof off the joint. And she looked so frigging hot, you’d think she had stepped right out of the pages of Heavy Metal magazine. I’d love to see her front a real rock band someday.
U2 were a bit self-indulgent playing six of their own songs, but they really outdid themselves backing Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith on their 1978 classic, “Because the Night.” Although I have always just been a casual Paul Simon fan, he certainly showed why he sits at the front of the hall of fame class with his outstanding performances this night. Do you believe he will turn 70 this year? His performance of “Here Comes the Sun,” with David Crosby and Graham Nash, was one of the most beautiful renditions I have ever heard. I better stop here or I could easily get carried away.
The production quality of this package thankfully lives up to the performances contained within. There is nothing worse than having a killer performance and mediocre production, or vice versa. No worries here though. The set comes with both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby Stereo mixes and both of them sound exceptional. The widescreen image is very clean and vibrant, and Joel Gallen’s direction was about as good as it gets. You can really lose yourself for a couple of hours in these DVDs and not even realize it.