THE SPECIAL "The 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony"
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, HBO
BOTTOM LINE A first-rate, hit-filled night of some of rock’s best.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson, The Cure, Def Leppard, Radiohead, Roxy Music and The Zombies are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a raucous, often inspirational, ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
MY SAY Here’s a secret about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: They really are responsive.
Stevie Nicks pointed out in her acceptance speech that there are 22 male Rock and Roll Hall of Famers inducted multiple times and that she is the first woman to have that honor — inducted as part of Fleetwood Mac and now as a solo artist. “I hope,” said Nicks, “that what I am doing is opening up the door for other women.”
Janet Jackson, whom Janelle Monae called “The Queen of Black Girl Magic” in her induction speech, was even more direct. “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 2020, please induct more women,” she said in her acceptance speech. Jackson also talked about how proud she was to take her place in the museum next to her brothers.
Judging from the edited version of the ceremony, that message has been received. Throughout the show, there were plenty of reaction shots of Nicks and Jackson, as well as Sheryl Crow, and Susanna Hoffs, who inducted The Zombies, to show that women were part of the ceremony. Time will tell if that message will result in more female artists getting inducted, but the issue has certainly been raised.
And yes, the Rock Hall does listen. It may not move as quickly as fans may like, but it does move, especially as it tries to fill arenas for its annual ceremony. Look no further than the rest of the 2019 class of inductees. Aside from Radiohead, the four other British bands have been eligible for years. In recent years, metal bands like Def Leppard and avant-garde bands like Roxy Music have had an easier time getting in. Maybe that will soon extend to female artists, too.
The editors had their hands full cutting the five-hour-plus ceremony down to just under three hours for HBO. In some ways, the editing made the energetic performances stand out even more. Nicks’ version of “Edge of Seventeen” was as hard-hitting as her duet with Don Henley on “Leather and Lace” was beautiful. The Cure’s raucous “Shake Dog Shake” was thrilling, while its “Boys Don’t Cry” had the crowd jumping around. And the reunited Roxy Music’s set was a showstopper, even if the shortened versions of “Love Is the Drug” and “More Than This” ended up on the cutting-room floor.
It was also disappointing that the Long Island shout-outs got cut for time. Duran Duran’s John Taylor talked about the thrill of being able to introduce the band’s fans to Roxy Music thanks to Long Island’s WLIR playing them both. The Zombies’ Rod Argent offered thanks to several bands, including Hicksville’s The Lemon Twigs, for carrying on the band’s legacy.
Nevertheless, few specials capture the power of rock and roll to inspire and unify the way Rock Hall inductions do. And this year’s class certainly made the most of its spotlight.