The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in April, will be shown on HBO in a three-hour version (edited from five) at 8 on Saturday night. This year's show makes for a far more entertainingly compelling exercise in self-congratulation than usual.
That's partly due to the talent level. In its first year of eligibility, Nirvana, the greatest of grunge-era bands, was inducted. The HBO show comes to a climactic conclusion with surviving members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear joined by four female singers - Joan Jett, Lorde, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, and a particularly fabulous St. Vincent - filling in for the late Kurt Cobain.
The E Street Band is given a special award, and is inducted by its Boss, Bruce Springsteen. He leads the band, including keyboard player David Sancious and drummer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez, through loose, stretched outtakes on "The E Street Shuffle" and "Kitty's Back." Springsteen also delivers a frank speech, admitting the guilt he feels about choosing to be inducted in 1999 as a solo artist, without the band.
And then there's the Philly angle. Along with Peter Gabriel and Linda Ronstadt (who is paid tribute in a winning Carrie Underwood/Bonnie Raitt/Emmylou Harris/Sheryl Crow performance segment), the inductees include Daryl Hall and John Oates.
Together with Kiss, the duo represent popular 1970s and 1980s bands who were derided by critics. Now, with obvious choices from the Beatles to Public Enemy already in, pop and hard-rock acts are forcing a reconsideration of the criteria for entry into the canon.
Guitarist Tom Morello gives an impassioned speech on behalf of Kiss, which he argues easily meets the requirements of "impact, influence, and awesomeness." And as "a proud child of Philadelphia," Roots drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson inducts Hall & Oates, talking about how the duo influenced by Motown later become favorites of hip-hop architects like J Dilla and the Wu Tang Clan, "because what goes around comes around - that's what great music does."
Backstage, Questlove expounded on the Philly theme: "Philadelphians stick by each other," he said. "There's a lot of pride and love amongst the community. . . . That's one thing you can say about Philadelphia: We love each other. It was hard to avoid [Hall & Oates'] influence. Blue-eyed soul, they were the proprietors of that brand."
Hall takes up the 215 cause in his feisty speech, wondering how he and Oates could be the first home-grown Philadelphia act selected: "What happened to Todd Rundgren, the Stylistics, the Delfonics, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Lenny Barry, Chubby Checker?" Before the duo go on to play "She's Gone" and "You Make My Dreams Come True," he issues a challenge that sounds like a thinly veiled threat: "I'm calling everybody out: There better be more Philadelphia artists in this place. That's all I got to say."
2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
8 p.m. Saturday on HBO