Yes, the crowd on the floor for the Rock Hall inductions was a group of mostly white, mostly older folks who looked like they had money to burn. But that didn’t mean they were opposed to having some fun. And it didn’t mean the floor seats (which cost something like $1500 a pop) were only occupied by out-of-towners. Local
politicians like councilman Zack Reed (drinking nothing but bottled water, mind you) and congressman Dennis Kucinich were spotted mingling with the high rollers.
Beachland co-owners Mark Leddy and Cindy Barber were spotted at a table. Grog Shop owner Kathy Simkoff and Telarc’s Larry Bole were also down on the floor. While most of the racket came from the rafters (every time a presenter said something about the city of Cleveland and/or Metallica, the crowd erupted like LeBron James had just thrown down a thunderous dunk), patrons on the floor showed their enthusiasm at various moments
throughout the four-hour show. When Bobby Womack finished his medley, an ovation ensued.
Jimmy Page also got a resounding ovation as he came out to induct Jeff Beck, whom he said had been his friend since they were both in their early teens. Page, ad-libbing his speech, talked extensively about how Beck had gotten “better and better over the years.” And when Page emerged from stage right to join Jeff Beck for an instrumental rendition of Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” cell phones and portable cameras were hoisted into the air.
By this time, a few patrons from the balcony section had made their way onto the floor and responded by
pumping their fists emphatically during the jam and grabbing whatever free drinks they could from the underutilized open bar. After a passionate speech by Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea, who dropped the f-bomb more than once in articulating just how much “Metallica rules,” Metallica finally clambered on stage. At this
point, the floor cleared out a bit as the band started to play, the volume decidedly louder than it’d been all night. Yet those who stayed were definitely into it. One guy in a tux was on his feet playing air guitar the entire time. Rock Hall CEO Terry Stewart passionately clapped his hands and bobbed his head. One woman in an elegant gown had her ears plugged, but for the most part, the people on the floor were into it and at the end of the two-song set, featuring “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman,” a couple of gray-haired guys in tuxes
There was a short break before the all-star finale which started as Wanda Jackson, Roseanne Cash, Little Anthony and Rev. Run come out singing “Jailhouse Rock,” which went over well with the women in gowns who were swinging their arms and moving their feet as Ron Wood and Jeff Beck dueled on guitar and D.J. Fontana held down the backbeat. A few more women in gowns left as you could hear more shouts of “Metallica” cascade from the rafters. This, with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry joining in on guitar, the all-star ensemble led by Metallica ripped through “Train Kept A-Rollin’” and everyone on the floor remained standing for the performance.
OK, so maybe the dinner (herb-crusted tenderloin of beef and tender airline chicken breast) didn’t entirely merit the high-price tag. But opening the concert to the public for the first time didn’t diminish the experience one bit. —Jeff Niesel