Last night's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony can best be summed up by the moment honoree Iggy Pop, 62, tore off his shirt after a tear-filled acceptance speech: unconventional, yes, but sticking with its core, signature roots and still in prime form to throw one helluva party. And that it was.
The 25th year of the annual fete -- brought back to New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel after last year's event in Cleveland, physical home of the Hall -- honored an eclectic group of artists under one rip-roaring roof: Iggy and his Stooges, ABBA, Jimmy Cliff, Genesis, The Hollies, billionaire industry vet David Geffen and a group of hitmaking songwriters. A little something for everybody and enough musical homages for each to satisfy even the viewers watching it all go down on Fuse TV.
The cocktail party was lively enough -- guests got to rub elbows with the likes of Eddie Vedder, Rob Thomas, Michael J. Fox and Katie Lee -- but things really got underway when Rolling Stone and Rock Hall founder Jann Wenner kicked off the night recapping year's past before Phish frontman Trey Anastasio began the lengthy Prog Rock portion of the evening with his two-song tribute to Genesis, sandwiching a ho-hum intro speech (sorry, folks, but Peter Gabriel sat this one out to rehearse for an upcoming tour overseas).
Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong didn't do much to cut the intro speech time when inducting The Stooges, but his bit was a whole lot more entertaining than when Anastasio took to the podium. (You gotta love words of appreciation like, "Iggy has the prettiest smile in the history of rock and roll" and the mile-long roll call list of bands inspired by the punkers). Fortunately, Armstrong stuck around after the group belted out "Search and Destroy" to join in on a rousing rendition of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" that brought up a cavalcade of rich folk after Iggy Pop intoned, "Let's get the Upper East Side up here!" If you build it, Iggy...
Geffen's tribute led by Jackson Browne came next, followed by Maroon 5's fetchingly dressed Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael, who joined The Hollies onstage for "Bus Stop" and "Carrie Ann" (word is the Hollies had something to do with investing in the Maroon boys from the start). Afterwards, Pat Monahan from Train jumped in for a group jam session that also included Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band, who gave their induction speech. Bruce Springsteen was fortunately in the house along with other luminaries including Meryl Streep to show support.
Cliff arrived with reggae and soul flavor after Wyclef Jean gave an emotional speech detailing how Cliff spent the night at his tiny apartment once after a studio session. Performing "You Can Get It If You Really Want" and "Many Rivers To Cross" solo in a sliver jacket and bright red scarf, Cliff proved he didn't need an A-list set of guest stars to bring the house down all by his bad self.
ABBA was next to take the stage -- but only half. The blonde half, to be precise. Accepting their award from Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson were humble and grateful before Benny hit the piano to back up Faith Hill, who covered the Swedish pop act's "The Winner Takes All." Hill, who was battling illness before going on, looked and sounded pitch-perfect though nobody was quite sure what her connection to the group is and why she was there.
Also honored that night was a group of songwriters out of NYC's famed Brill Building sound factory. The night was then capped off by the famed closing group number finale. Another year, another starry night at the induction ceremony, and everybody left with a memory and the reminder, as Pop stated in his speech, that "All the poor people who actually started rock and roll are cool."