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the best day of my life: coming to dvd

September 26, 2010

Rock & Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concerts DVD Last fall I was living in Washington, DC. I was making enough money to blow quiiiite a bit of it on a ticket for night one of The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concerts at Madison Square Garden. After spending approximately 4 seconds weighing the pros and cons of adding such a charge to my credit card I snagged a ticket and it was probably the best money I’ve ever spent.

I was there for the first night. I was in the highest section up but parallel to the stage which turned out to be maybe the best seat in the house as I was able to see rock stars of the highest order standing in the wings of the stage watching their own heroes bring the house down. As I said in my Rolling Stone Letter to the Editor “Watching Tom Morello play air guitar from the side of the stage while Bruce Springsteen tore through ‘Thunder Road’ was one of the great joys of my life.” And truly, it was.

I don’t know who else was in the audience that night. I don’t even know who I was sitting next to. From the minute Tom Hanks came onstage to introduce the evening I was completely spellbound. The thing about the concerts was that the headliners had been announced – but no one else. That most tantalizing of all concert euphemisms “and Special Guests” was left dangling in my consciousness. I had purposely avoided reading any of the blogs or rumors about who might show up. I didn’t want any spoiler alerts.  So, while the folks sitting around me probably had some vague idea that Crosby, Stills, and Nash (the first headliners) were going to bring out Bonnie Raitt, and then Jackson Browne, and then James Taylor, or that partway through Stevie Wonder’s set you’d realize “Holy s*** that’s Sting playing the bass!” I was completely surprised each time and actually let out an audible gasp with every new guest. Literally. For the entire six-hour show. Every time someone new was introduced I gasped. If you were sitting around me, I apologize for that. It was probably really annoying.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame All-Stars

Allllmost too much to handle. Left to Right: Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Sam Moore, John Fogerty, Tom Morello, Jackson Browne

There was no “live Tweeting” that night. There was no calling Aunt Sally and holding my phone up to the cavernous arena so that she could hear the garbled sound of nothing as proof that I was witnessing history being made. There were no Facebook status updates “OMG I can’t BELIEVE what I’m seeing!!!” There was no rapid-fire mass texting to incite jealousy among my friends. As far as I was concerned it was just me and my heroes having a party that I was somehow allowed into.

There was only a brief moment that threatened to shatter my transfixed bliss. Towards the end of the concert – when John Fogerty was jamming with Bruce Springsteen – a man wandered into our section, clearly very inebriated and/or chemically altered. I paid no mind to him though I could sense the other patrons of my section tensing up. The man first went to the front of our section then turned around and crawled up the stairs to where he took a seat behind me. Fine. Sit behind me, crawl, whatever just don’t block my view and for God’s sake don’t make any noise. Well his next move was to start petting my hair and then to tumble out of his seat, over me, and into the aisle. Okay buddy, now you’re distracting me. It was like those times you hear about a mom lifting a car to rescue her child, I shot out of my seat charged up to the back of the Section flagged down a MSG Security dude and had the problem solved before one chorus of “Fortunate Son” No one was going to get in the way of me soaking up every moment of this concert.

It really was magic from start to finish. I left the arena that night floating somewhere above Cloud 9. I was aware, during every second of it, that I was witnessing something historic and I just felt so supremely lucky. I couldn’t afford, nor could I probably have physically withstood, attending the second night of the concert. U2 and Metallica aren’t really my scene anyhow, although Mick Jagger did show up on night two. That news was a little hard to hear.

morrello and springsteen live on stage hall of fame

Springsteen and Morello onstage

After the show was over I scribbled down some of my thoughts so as not to lose my initial impressions over time: David Crosby introduced Bonnie Raitt as his favorite voice, and her version of “Love Has No Pride” with added CSN harmonies made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Gorgeous. When Paul Simon brought out Art Garfunkel for a few of their classics I just wrote “literally sounds like angels.” Time has done little to diminish the glory of those two voices and their symbiotic beauty. Bruce Springsteen brought out Sam Moore of dynamic Stax wonder-duo Sam & Dave and his version of “Hold on I’m Comin” just about melted the paint off The Garden. When Tom Morello joined Bruce for the already haunting “Ghost of Tom Joad” it took on a dark psychedelic dynamic that was really otherworldly.

Following the two-night concert, which totaled 11 hours of once-in-a-lifetime collaborations and historic performances, HBO cut it down to a much more TV-friendly 4 hour broadcast.  Needless to say there was a lot that got left on the cutting room floor. Thankfully the DVD, which comes out on Tuesday, doesn’t have the same constraints as the HBO broadcast and features 16 additional full-length performances. It also comes with a collector’s issue of the Rolling Stone magazine covering the event and full of behind-the-scenes stories.

Undoubtedly, the magic of that October evening will translate at maybe 35% in recorded format but I’m still so happy that this DVD is finally coming out.  I can’t wait to see the additional footage, and of course it will be nice to have the performances that I didn’t get to see from night two. It really was the kind of concert that reminds you just why you love music so very much.  As Mr. Tom Hanks put it when he kicked off the show, “Hail, hail Rock & Roll!”

The DVD of the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concerts comes out on Tuesday, September 28th. It is available for a discounted pre-order price of $28.49 at Amazon.com For a complete listing of performances on the film visit TimeLife’s website.

musicnotesIt’s all part of my Rock & Roll Fantasy” Bad Company

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 27, 2010 3:02 pm

    Spellbinding post my friend. Im all teary eyed and tingly imagining the thrill of that night. Love your passion.

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