Home viewers had best seats for stadium concert


If you spent Saturday night watching the Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on HBO, and found yourself wishing you were in Cleveland, I have good news: You were better off where you were.

True, you folks at home missed out on many of the things we in the stadium experienced during the 6 hour, 45 minute concert. It would be hard to imagine, for instance, that the small screen adequately conveyed the ecstasy that swept the crowd as lTC Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band launched into "Shake, Rattle & Roll," or the irony-proof local pride that greeted Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders as she sang her pre-urban renewal anthem, "My City Was Gone."

On the other hand, you saw many things we in the stadium didn't -- particularly those of us in the far reaches of Cleveland Stadium. When Bruce Hornsby performed "Scarlet Begonias" in tribute to the Grateful Dead, you all got a nice, close look at him; meanwhile in Cleveland, the video displays showed only still photos of Jerry Garcia as a few specks busied themselves onstage. Booker T. & the MG's were also ignored as their rendition of "Green Onions" was not shown on the video screens, suggesting that a group with no singer somehow offered nothing to watch.

Other video-based elements -- like the backstage interview segments and the performance clips from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinners -- came across badly in the stadium, as well. But since they were obviously intended for a different audience, few in the stadium seemed to mind such technical failings.

But the biggest advantage home-viewers had was that they could pop a cassette in the VCR, hit record, and go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Not only would that have left them better rested, it would have given them the chance to fast-forward past the boring bits -- something many in the stadium would have loved to do.

There were certainly moments that no one would have wanted to miss, like Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town," Al Green offering an electrifying "A Change Is Going to Come," Soul Asylum and Iggy Pop doing "Backdoor Man", and seeing Larry Graham kick off the P-Funk All-Stars' rendition of "Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)." But even die-hard rock fans could have done without Jackson Browne's "Tracks of My Tears," Natalie Merchant's "I Know How to Do It," Heart's "Love Hearts," all of Slash and Boz Scaggs' bluesfest, and at least two of Bob Dylan's five numbers.

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