While the line-up for the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony included the diverse likes of grunge greats Pearl Jam, folk hero Joan Baez, slain rapper Tupac Shakur, symphonic rockers Electric Light Orchestra and disco ringleader turned mega-producer Nile Rodgers (of the criminally bypassed Chic), much of the evening’s buzz centered around possible reunions from arena rockers Journey and progressive titans Yes.
Not only was seeing members of Pearl Jam, Journey, Yes, Rush and the son of a Beatle a once-in-ten-lifetimes combination, but the song that fuses a message about social justice and a charging chorus that could also be used to symbolize the genre’s tenacious spirit was truly an ideal way to capture the attitude of the momentous occasion.
Although Journey faithful never stopped believing, it was Yes die-hards whose wishes were granted as everyone from the “Union” line-up finally scored some space in the hallowed halls, including original singer Jon Anderson, ‘80s guitarist Trevor Rabin and classic keyboardist Rick Wakeman (all from the ARW offshoot), who merged back together with the brand’s current nucleus of guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White. Retired beat keeper Bill Bruford was also in attendance, and despite not re-joining the others, prog enthusiasts from all over the world surely salivated when Rush’s Geddy Lee took to bass during “Roundabout” in honor of late founding bassist Chris Squire.
Ironically, it was that very guest star who never previously played a single note with Yes that turned out to be the glue to fuse the infrequent collective together. When he bowed out and passed bass duties to Howe for “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” the momentum temporarily subsided, but retuned when a keytar-wearing Wakeman and Rabin soloed on the ground floor full of tuxedo and gown-clad VIPs, infusing a celebratory tone into the otherwise dwindling chemistry between these estranged factions.
Speaking of players who hadn’t performed together in ages (26 years to be exact), speculation ran rampant for months as to whether or not Steve Perry would sing with Journey. And even when early members Neal Schon (guitar), Ross Valory (bass), Gregg Rolie (vocals/keyboards) and Aynsley Dunbar (drums), plus Jonathan Cain (keyboards) and Steve Smith (drums) from their hit-making heyday walked up together for speeches, it was still unclear if Perry was in the building, let alone would take the lead.
Well it turns out he was waiting backstage, eventually greeting bandmates and shocking the masses, though outside of saluting the others, their crew and profusely thanking fans, he did indeed skedaddle following a nail-biting, longer than usual break between segments. That left a reverent but visibly nervous Arnell Pineda to front “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Lights” and Don’t Stop Believin” with the middle track featuring some additional playing from Rolie and Dunbar.
The arena let out a collective sigh over the missed opportunity, but all were back to laughing when David Letterman (subbing for a sick Neil Young) introduced a humble and humorous Pearl Jam, who hammered through the “Alive,” “Given To Fly” (dedicated to attendee Michael J. Fox) and “Better Man” with the fluidity of having toured fairly steadily since the ‘90s. Even co-founding (albeit short-lived) drummer Dave Krusen had no trouble jumping back into the alt-rock action for the first tune, though the star-stacked finale was more surprising and by far the most engrossing moment of the entire affair.
Young might not have made it to lead “Rockin’ In The Free World,” but his periodic PJ collaborators tore into it anyway, accompanied by yet another previous drummer Jack Irons, Dhani Harrison, Schon, Cain, Rabin, Lee and fellow Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson for a massive shred-fest. Not only was seeing members of Pearl Jam, Journey, Yes, Rush and the son of a Beatle a once-in-ten-lifetimes combination, but the song that fuses a message about social justice and a charging chorus that could also be used to symbolize the genre’s tenacious spirit was truly an ideal way to capture the attitude of the momentous occasion.
For additional information on the Rock and Roll Hal of Fame Induction Ceremony, visit RockHall.com.
For a list of upcoming shows at the Barclays Center, visit BarclaysCenter.com.