Last night, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band whipped out a version of “New York State of Mind” with Billy Joel at the first of two giant concerts marking the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tonight, it was Aretha Franklin who showed some love for the city hosting the gigs, with a stellar “New York, New York.” For more of the night’s awe-inspiring moments as they happen, keep reading. Check out the Rock Hall shows in killer live photos.
• Annie Lennox joins Aretha Franklin for “Chain of Fools” wearing a maroon felt hat and a T-shirt with a prominent message: “HIV Positive” reads the front; “Fighting HIV/AIDS” is emblazoned on the back. The song is so successful, Franklin gushes, “That was so good” and does little dance.
• Lenny Kravitz blows the crowd away with an amazingly soulful take on his verses of “Think.” Aretha starts to dance off on Lenny’s arm, but it’s just a psych-out. She’s back for a sizzling “Respect.”
• Jeff Beck opens with an homage to Ray Charles: “Drown In My Own Tears.” He wraps with a tribute to the Beatles, laying down a gorgeous, drawn-out “A Day in the Life” that stuns the crowd.
• Beck also brings out the two most spectacularly bearded men in the building: Sting sings “People Get Ready,” Billy Gibbons lends his gravely pipes to “Foxy Lady.” The non-bearded Buddy Guy joins for “Let Me Love You Baby,” and the crowd is mesmerized by Tal Wilkenfeld, Beck’s killer bassist.
• Metallica’s James Hetfield gets the crowd head-banging and laughing when he introduces Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” as “one of the songs I wish we would have wroted — and thank my English teacher right now — I wish we had written.”
• The room fills with boisterous “Lllllllouuuus” as Lou Reed joins the band for searing versions of “Sweet Jane” and “White Light/White Heat.”
• Hetfield introduces “the crazy guy who epitomizes the rock & roll singer.” Ozzy Osbourne’s first words: “I canâ€™t fucking hear! Louder!” Metallica bring the noise for “Iron Man” and Paranoid,” injecting the Black Sabbath songs with serious adrenaline.
• “We got completely schooled on early, early riff rock by this man and his band, the Kinks,” Hetfield says, introducing “one of the original punks,” Ray Davies. Enter powerful renditions of “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.” Metallica cap the set with “Enter Sandman.”
• Weeks on the road with the 360° Tour have given U2’s “Magnificent” an airy charm that stands up to some of their biggest hits. The song is resplendent and resonate in MSG.
• The crowd explodes when Bono utters the following: “This is the song we wish weâ€™d written. It’s a Bruce Springteen song so we’d like to ask him to come out here. It’s also a Patti Smith song, we’d like to ask her to come out here.” After flubbing the beginning of “Because the Night,” the crew run through it again, tripling up on vocals on the chorus.
• Bono intros “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with a long speech: “Here in rock & roll’s great cathedral, Madison Square Garden, think about all the pilgrims and pioneers that got us all here, the saints and the heretics, the poets and the punks that now make up the Hall of Fame. It’s a dangerous thing, this business of building idols, but at least rock & roll is not at its best about worshiping sacred cows. It’s about thousands of voices gathered at once in a great unwashed congregation, like tonight. For a lot of us here, rock & roll means just one word: liberation. Political, sexual, spiritual liberation.”
Bruce Springsteen responds: “Let’s have some fun with that.”
• The night’s second-biggest surprise arrives when “Mysterious Ways” suddenly takes a left turn into the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is the Love.” It’s wacky to see Bono trading verses with Will.i.am, but as he recently told RS, he’s open to all kinds of musical experiences.
• The night’s biggest surprise arrives when Mick Jagger strolls onstage to the haunting beginning of “Gimme Shelter.” Fergie nails the high parts at the end, and she and the Rolling Stones’ leader sing face to face, hopping up and down with pure energy. At the track’s end, all Bono can say is, “Oh my God.”
• Jagger stays for “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” trading verses with Bono in a moment of mutual respect. U2 bring it home with “Beautiful Day”: awesome, inspiring and tight.