Welcome to Idolator’s first-ever live-blog of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, an annual rite-of-passage for aging rockers, aging magazine magnates, and aging record executives eager to goose their catalog sales. The show kicks off at 8:30 p.m. EST, and this year’s honorees include R.E.M., Patti Smith, the Ronettes, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and 5/6 of Van Halen (those of you without VH1 Classic can watch it here). After the jump, our minute-by-minute account of musical performances so good, they deserve to be immortalized in a weird-looking building in Cleveland.
8:25 p.m. VH1 Classic’s pre-show broadcast of Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same concludes. Mercifully, the TV version cuts each solo down to a manageable 17 minutes each.
8:28 p.m. We hate to ruin the surprise, but before the show starts, we wanted to give you a heads-up that R.E.M. has recruited a new drummer for its performance tonight.
8:33 p.m. And we’re off! Oh, Jann. You’ve never forgotten that old showbiz chestnut: Nothing kicks off a live show like a speech about two dead people.
8:36 p.m. Wait–this is really the beginning of the show? They have Zach de la Rocha and Aretha Franklin backstage, and they’re not going to open with a thrashed-up version of “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me”?
8:37 p.m. A dead-person montage opens the show. Syd Barrett gets lots of applause, as do James Brown and Desmond Dekker. “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow gets dissed.
8:40 p.m. The deceased-musician montage, strangely, does not end with a shot of Gary Cherone.
8:43 p.m. The Ahmet tribute is classy enough, but this is middle-of-the-show material, people.
8:45 p.m. Stephen Stills points out something we’ve all forgotten too easily: Ahmet Ertegun is dead. Thankfully, the room gets the timely My Cousin Vinny reference.
8:49 p.m. Aretha Franklin arrives on stage, having just eaten Jerry Wexler.
8:53 p.m. Franklin belts out “Don’t Play That Song,” and we get our first ShafferShot(TM) of the evening.
9:02 p.m. The Ronettes: Are they, like, a Pipettes rip-off?
9:05 p.m. For the 50th year in a row, Keith Richards makes a joke about his own disbelief at still being alive.
9:08 p.m. This is what would have happened if Peter O’Toole had won an Oscar.
9:11 p.m. Ronnie Spector harumphs out a slight dig at Phil Spector, the first of the evening.
9:17 p.m. The other Ronettes get their Spector-approved four seconds of speech time, while Richards tries to smoke an errant audio cable.
9:21 p.m. All the balled-up sarcasm, cynicism, and bathroom-break neediness in the world couldn’t prompt us to crack wise about the Ronettes’ “Baby I Love You” and “Walking In The Rain.” Sorry.
9:30 p.m. Same goes for “Be My Baby,” though the 20-odd backing musicians needed onstaege to re-create the song just makes you appreciate Spector’s Wall of Sound even more.
9:31 p.m. A congratulatory letter is read by Paul Shaffer from Phil Spector, and there’s a slight murmur of dissent. Or maybe that’s just because they’re about to show a montage of previous Hall Of Fame ceremonies.
9:35 p.m. Damn, we had forgotten about Mike Love’s screw-you to Mick Jagger back in ’88, still the most interesting thing he’s done in the past forty years.
9:39 p.m. The many, many bolo ties of Neil Young.
9:46 p.m. The montage celebrating New York Times Op-Ed columnist Patti Smith begins, and Michael Stipe prepares for the first of many reaction shots.
9:49 p.m. Zack de la Rocha slams an anonymous music moronic critic. Who knew he reads Pitchfork?
9:53 p.m. First anti-Bush comment of the night! And it only took an hour and a half.
9:59 p.m. Patti Smith talks about taking care of musicians in need, prompting Kid Rock to take another swig.
10:02 p.m. Smith and her band perform “Gimme Shelter,” causing Richards to momentarily stop talking to a Brian Jones hallucination he bumped into at the buffet table.
10:13 p.m. Smith launches into “Rock N Roll Nigger,” no doubt scaring the shit out of the ad execs who thought they had come to see Sammy Hagar do “Summer Nights.”
10:17 p.m. For no apparent reason, we’re now treated to a 1995 version of Neil Young, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant performing “When The Levee Breaks.” Come on, now–not even the zaniest Zepheads thought this was any good.
10:25 p.m. Boy trapped in refrigerator eats own foot.
10:28 p.m. “Ladies and gentlemen, here to talk about James Brown: Al Sharpton.” There is no way this thing is ending before midnight.
10:38 p.m. Finally, David Lee Roth appears! It’s from 1987, but still.
10:40 p.m. Finally, Michael Anthony’s backing vocals get some props! It’s from Hagar, but still.
10:42 p.m. Duff McKagan invoking “I Can’t Drive 55″? We’re speechless. If only Velvet Revolver were, too.
10:43 p.m. Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony accept their awards without Eddie, Alex, and David, and the word “PERVERTED”–a frame-grab from the “Right Now” video–is appropriately flashed on a video screen behind them.
10:48 p.m. Hagar says that he hopes Eddie “is going to come out of the other side a better person,” and then artlessly segues into a James Brown impression.
10:50 p.m. Scott Weiland ain’t singing “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” very well.
10:54 p.m. Desperate to find a suitable Hagar-era song, VR attempt a punked-out version of “Runaround.” We think.
10:57 p.m. Hagar, Anthony and Shaffer jam out “Why Can’t This Be Love” with a horn section. When does this end again?
11:02 p.m. For fook’s sake, not another montage! Please, Jann–we still have R.E.M. and Grandmaster Flash to get through!
11:09 p.m. Tha Hagar-Anthony press conference involves a lot of preening, posing, and politely avoiding questions about Eddie.
11:11 p.m. Hagar floats the idea of a VH tour with both singers. Stop floating, Sammy!
11:15 p.m. Jay-Z inducts Grandmaster Flash. But what will he find to rhyme with “Ahmet Ertegun”?
11:31 p.m. Oops! We had a little bit of a wireless trip-up, but here’s what’s happened: Keith Richards ranted, GF & the Furious Five performed, and the show’s only got an hour left to go. Yay!
11:41 p.m. Back-to-back “vintage” Hall Of Fame performances. At 11:52, we expect to see that footage of Jerry Lewis and Jeff Lynne dueting on “Bad Moon Rising.”
11:45 p.m. Finally, R.E.M. begins the begin. Remember when Stipe used to wear funny hats, and Mills looked like he went to Hogwarts Academy?
11:49 p.m. Who are all these dudes hooting? “Sammy!” “Eddie!” It’s like Goldman Sachs bought out the first four tables.
11:50 p.m. Vedder loses three points for using the word “palette.”
11:51 p.m. Eddie Vedder: “There are things that I feel very deeply about inside here [points to chest] that Michael Stipe put in there himself.” Lookout!
12:02 p.m. Ah, Bill Berry: We’ve missed your drumming skills, your enthusiasm chops, and your magnificent eyebrows.
12:04 p.m. John Malkovich accepts the award for R.E.M.
12:06 p.m. Stipe asks long-time R.E.M. supporters in the audience to stand in the place where they live.
12:11 p.m. Stipe’s voice sounds spotty on “Begin The Begin,” but Berry’s farming career has clearly helped keep his drumming arms in shape.
12:19 p.m. “Gardening At Night” and “Man On The Moon” follow, and you can just smell the all-star jam that’s about to kick off.
12:20 p.m. And, on cue, there’s Eddie, singing about horrible asps.
12:24 p.m. Patti Smith appears to dazily wander onto the stage before launching into “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
12:29 p.m. Keith Richards, Sammy Hagar, Eddie Vedder, Stephen Stills, The Ronettes, R.E.M., members of Grandmaster Flash, and everyone else ever in the history of anything sing “People Have The Power”–as in “we, the people, have the power to Tivo the rest of this thing and go to bed.” Good night!