By MICHELE AMABILE ANGERMILLER
The 34th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony returned to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Friday night to honor the class of 2019: Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, The Zombies, Roxy Music, The Cure, Radiohead and Janet Jackson. While there was no shortage of action onstage during the five-hour-long show — including duets Stevie Nicks duetting with Harry Styles and Don Henley and a moving induction ceremony for Def Leppard — there was plenty more to be seen and heard as artists fielded questions in the press room.
The good vibes started early, as Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen jokingly asked reporters for requests to finish the band’s set list; the group was joined by their close friend, Queen’s Brian May, who inducted them and performed with them during the all-star jam at the end of the evening.
“I would have been really upset if anyone else had done it other than me. They are like family to me,” said May when asked about inducting the band. “I’m hugely honored and a little nervous because I want to do them justice… and I get to play, too.”
Stevie Nicks, who is the first woman to be inducted into the hall twice (as a member of Fleetwood Mac and tonight as a solo act), was asked about her solo plans, considering that Mac is on tour for much of this year. Band members Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and touring member Mike Campbell posed for photos with her, as did Styles.
“I don’t really know what I’m going to do, because [the Fleetwood Mac] tour isn’t over until September,” she said. “As long as you are under the umbrella of Fleetwood Mac, you are doing Fleetwood Mac. Before I was always planning, but at this point in my life I am letting this play out as it plays. And when it’s over then I will decide what I am going to do.”
The Zombies celebrated a special anniversary at the ceremony, as the band’s song, “Time of the Season” was a No. 1 hit 50 years ago. The group reflected on that moment, and its busy summer ahead, which includes an appearance at Woodstock 50 Aug. 18 in Watkins Glen, NY.
“We play with the same passion now that we did when we were 18 years old,” said keyboardist Rod Argent. “We always approach what we are doing exactly the same way as we did when we first started out. We still get completely energized by being able to write new music, record it and play it in front of appreciate audiences.”
Robert Smith of The Cure — who revealed that the band has recorded 19 songs for a new album — spoke of some ambivalence about the evening’s honor.
“I’m a generally decisive person with regards to the band and I didn’t know if we should do this at all,” he said. “I was convinced it was a foolish thing to do. But once we were inducted, I thought it was a bit churlish to not join in.”
He said he’d originally wanted to perform a new 10-minute song during the ceremony, but the other band members shot that down.
“Right up until about two days ago we were still arguing about what we should play,” he said. “We’ve never rowed as a band in the last seven or eight years about what we should play.”
Finally, a decision was made, and an unlikely choice — “Shake, Dog, Shake,” from the 1984 album, The Top — in tribute to former drummer Andy Anderson, who died of cancer last month.
“It’s a weird choice maybe for people who don’t know The Cure, but because Andy Anderson who died very recently, and he was the drummer on that album and he’s known for that song in particular,” he said.
The set was rounded out by crowd-pleasers “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Love Song” and “A Forest” (to show “where the band started”, he said). Oddly enough, the band skipped “Friday I’m in Love,” despite the show being on a Friday.
Also making a stop backstage were Duran Duran members Simon Le Bon and John Taylor, who, while inducting musical heroes Roxy Music into the Hall of Fame, gave a nod to America’s alternative radio of the era for supporting both Roxy and Duran Duran.
“Before MTV, there was LIR, there was KROQ on the West Coast — and when we first came here, we had an audience,” said Taylor. “We walked onstage and we had fans, and that was because of LIR. There was no other medium, there was no other way that you could hear cutting edge, English music other than maybe a handful of radio stations. At the beginning, in 1981, that was it.”
Prior to the ceremony, Greg Harris, President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, presented a video presentation to reporters encapsulating the previous year’s induction ceremony in Cleveland and a recap of the progress since then, including a new “Rock and Roll and Television” exhibit on the top three floors of the Hall.
He added that this year’s class of 2019 inductees have contributed to a new exhibit to be displayed in the Hall. The display, he said, includes iconic outfits worn by Nicks, as well as artifacts donated by The Zombies, Roxy Music, and Def Leppard, who were “very generous” with their contributions.
“The exhibit will be open all year long,” he said.
The 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air April 27 on HBO.