The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted a new class on Thursday
Inductees Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens and Hall & Oates performed
Nirvana gave an emotional induction speech and performance
The 2014 ceremony was the first time it was held in Brooklyn
The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday celebrated some of the industry’s greatest legends the best way it knew how: by turning up the music.
Along with the typical acceptance speeches at the 2014 event were some performances so awe-inspiring one of them kept going long after the show was done.
Held in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the Rock Hall of Fame welcomed six new members: Nirvana, KISS, Hall & Oates, Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam), Linda Ronstadt and Peter Gabriel.
Gabriel was the first to take the stage on Thursday, performing his cut “Digging in the Dirt” from 1992’s “Us.” He then brought out Coldplay’s Chris Martin – who gave Gabriel’s induction speech – to duet with him on “Washing of the Water,” followed by a performance of “In Your Eyes” with Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour.
Perhaps Gabriel helped set a mood of kindness and peace, because when all four original members of KISS took the stage there wasn’t a trace of their famous animosity to be seen.
Inducted by Tom Morello – a known KISS fan who crowed that “Kiss was never a critics’ band. Kiss was a people’s band!” – Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss seemed sincere when they accepted their honor.
“This is a profound moment for all of us. We are humbled that the fans gave us the chance to do what we love doing,” Simmons said. “And so I’m here just to say a few kind words about the four knuckleheads who, 40 years ago, got together and decided to put together the band that you see on stage, critics be damned. … We wouldn’t be here today without the initial Fantastic Four.”
There wasn’t a performance from KISS, but there were plenty more to look forward to: Stevens gave a rendition of “Father And Son” accompanied by an acoustic guitar, Hall & Oates performed classics like “I Can’t Go For That,” and the E Street Band took on “The River” and “Kitty’s Back” after receiving the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Award for Musical Excellence from none other than the Boss himself.
“I thank you my beautiful men and women of E Street,” Springsteen said in a speech that dug back to the group’s very beginning. “You made me dream and love bigger than I could have ever without you. And tonight I stand here with just one regret: that (the late) Danny (Federici) and Clarence (Clemons) couldn’t be with us here tonight.”
And then, there was the tribute to Nirvana, eerily timed to come within days of the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death.
R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe inducted the landmark rock group, calling them “singular, loud and melodic and deeply original. … Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders, from the fags and the fat girls to the shy nerds and the goth kids in Tennessee and Kentucky, for the rockers to the awkward to the too-smart kids and the bullied. We were a community.”
That community included Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, who was subdued Thursday when she took the stage to accept the recognition along with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and members of Cobain’s family, including his mother.
“He would have been so proud,” Cobain’s mother, Wendy, said of her son. “He’d say he wasn’t, but he would be.”
While some may have been expecting Love to embrace her Love-ness and deliver one of the most talked about moments of the night, she was focused on family.
“I have a big speech, but I’m not going to say it. … This is my family I’m looking at right now,” she said, as she pushed past her tension with Grohl to walk over to him and give him a hug.
“I just wish Kurt was here to see this,” she concluded.
For their performance, Nirvana recruited some top talent, from Joan Jett to Kim Gordon to Lorde, to help them light a fire with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “All Apologies.”
According to Pitchfork, their collaboration continued into the early hours of Friday morning as Nirvana, joined by St. Vincent, Joan Jett and Kim Gordon, headed over to a secret show.