The Lionel Richie homage happened on a very 1985 set with a giant neon pastel Lionel face, which is how every stage set should be decorated. LL introduced it by singing everybody’s favorite Lionel proverb: “Life is goooood, wiiiiild and sweeeet.” (Too bad he didn’t add, “I had a dream. I had an awesome dream.”) Demi Lovato did right by “Hello,” though John Legend is too nice for the bitchiness of “Easy” – where was Mike Patton? – and Tyrese’s “Brick House” was stuck in hour six of a Long Island wedding reception. Lionel sat in the audience listening to other people do his songs, with a look on his face that said, “Wait, they know I’m actually here, right? This isn’t a memorial montage?” But once he got up for “All Night Long,” everything was easy like Sunday morning. The Lionel jam also had the best audience sing-along shots of the night: George Clinton sang along to “Brick House,” while Dave Grohl got his fiesta-forever on to to “All Night Long.”
“Many of us play rock & roll, but very few of us are rock & roll,” Grohl said in his warm salute to Lemmy. (Who has been mentioned before on the Grammy Awards when exactly?) He also threw in a very gracious mention of the other recently deceased Motorhead warrior, Philthy Animal Taylor, and quoted Lemmy’s wise words: “The pleasure is to play.” The tribute featured the Hollywood Vampires: Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry, GNR’s Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. (As Alice said on the red carpet, “It was either this or the Muppets.”) The Vampires did the inevitable “Ace of Spades” and nothing can kill that song, except maybe Robin Thicke joining in, which somehow fortunately didn’t happen.
Stevie Wonder honored the late great Maurice White by singing Earth, Wind & Fire’s “That’s the Way of the World” a cappella (with a group called Pentatonix, who I guess are a thing). Stevie did his beloved “the envelope’s in braille” gag, and hey, bless him for that. So many memorial tributes – Bonnie Raitt did her guitar homage to B. B. King along with Gary Clark Jr. and Chris Stapleton. The Eagles paid a very unsentimental deadpan tribute to Glenn Frey with “Take It Easy” with Jackson Browne, though nobody can step to Joe Walsh, who might be the Grammys’ favorite person. (Who can forget him jamming with Paul McCartney to Side Two of Abbey Road in 2012?) Not a second of Ornette Coleman’s music all night, a very strange oversight.Watch Adele’s “All I Ask” performance at last night’s award ceremony.
Adele’s “All I Ask” showed why live performances are a gamble – the sound got screwed up, which makes sense, since all she did in the past year was pay the tab for every goddamn microphone in the building. But it was worth it to see her horrified look during her technical difficulties. Let’s face it, triumphing over technical difficulties is what she’s all about, and her performance remained one of the high points on sheer bravado. (As she explained afterward, “Shit happens.”) She deserved a do-over – too bad she didn’t bumrush the Gaga Bowie tribute to ad-lib a version of “Life On Mars?”.