The 2014 Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame: Nearvana
I can't get excited about The Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame - it's a business and though there are acts I like to see included (last year's Randy Newman induction was quite a lump-in-throat moment, his wonderful speech, the performance, even Don Henley's induction speech - and I f**king hate Don Henley!) it's not really anything I care to catch up with, if I see it I see it. If I don't - as is most often the case - that's also fine.
But this year the big talk was around Nirvana being inducted - well, alright, there was also KISS and Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt - and The E Street Band was inducted (by its boss, the, er, Boss). Cat Stevens probably had the line of the night, "they inducted someone who doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't throw televisions out of his hotel rooms and only sleeps with his wife. It was a brave decision and a very rock'n'roll one".
But the majority of the talk seems to be around Nirvana - or what's left of Nirvana - reforming. The induction timed so closely with the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. A speech from the woman who killed him, Courtney Love. And a series of guest vocalists, all female, a nice touch most people seem to think, something different.
There was Joan Jett and Kim Gordon and Annie Clark/St. Vincent and Lorde - but did you know her real name is actually Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor? I think that's mostly been kept under wraps until just now...
Whatever you think of Lorde's music - and I'm certainly not a fan, not at this stage - she's had an incredible year. Snapped a photo with David Bowie, when Bruce Springsteen comes to town he covers her song, won some Grammy awards, had a couple of million-sellers, developed an arthritic Wednesday Addams dance move and pretty much kept Metro magazine afloat. Not bad for 17 or 39, depending who you believe. And now she's up on stage with the remnants of the last rock'n'roll band that might have actually meant something, pretty good going for a high school poetess with a drum machine (being programmed for her).
So Lorde performed All Apologies with the Nirvana rhythm section - and did not ruin it. In fact it's the best she's sounded, it wasn't great - wasn't a knockout - but it was okay. And I it made the world of difference to hear her with a real band. And it's win-win too because anything that keeps Dave Grohl away from making more music as Foo Fighters is doing the world (of music) a favour.
I preferred Kim Gordon's rendition of Aneurysm - it just seemed a better fit.
But the real winning performance over the weekend was the one you didn't get to see as part of the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Proving this "business" is about the business always.
After the "show" what was left of Nirvana - let's call them Nearvana - played a secret/unannounced gig at Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn - here's the full set-list. No Lorde, perhaps because she's not legally old enough to be in a bar, or maybe because the "show" was over and the business arrangement had ended. Smells Like Teen Pop Star.
St. Vincent, Gordon and Jett all reprised their roles, singing the songs they had performed for the ceremony and a few others. Also John McAuley of Deer Tick played a few, and - from the footage I've seen - the star of the night was the usually lethargic, reticent, plodding J Mascis. Oh, I love his music - his playing, the way he sings (if you can call it that) but I've seen him perform a few times and I wouldn't ever suggest that he has anything approaching stagecraft. Or even energy. The only electricity that comes from his performance is through the guitar. I've even seen him yawning during one of his own solos.
But here he is fronting a versions of Nirvana, a band that took a lot of influence - and sound - from his group, Dinosaur Jr. And a band he has clearly remained a fan of - here he is playing School with what's left of Nirvana. It sounds kick-ass good.
So good that I wouldn't mind at all if he shelved his Dino J and solo projects to go on the road with Nearvana and play through that setlist from Thursday night's performance. Let them tour the world I say. Hey, it would stop a whole lot of Foo Fighters gigs. They could even take Lorde along. It would stop her singing Royals for a bit.
Did you see any of the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame this year? Did you like the performances? And what did you think of Nearvana with female vocalists? What do you think would have made Kurt roll in his grave - the honouring of his band in this way or the fact that the woman who killed him was in on the honouring, milking it all once again? Or is the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame of no interest to you? Not even on the year the inducted KISS - the pro-wrestling of music?
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts