NEW YORK — For the second night in a row, Tom Hanks walked onstage at Madison Square Garden to do the introduction for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert , and for the second night in a row some of the greatest rock acts of all time shared the stage. Performances varied from classic hits to once-in-a-lifetime collaborations as Aretha Franklin, Jeff Beck, Metallica and U2 all brought out big-name guests.
Jerry Lee Lewis got things started again, this time performing “Great Balls Fire” and literally kicking down his seat before exiting to make way for the rest of the acts.
Franklin took the stage in a red dress that was outshined only by the sound of her voice as she opened the night with “A Natural Woman.” Her set included a collaboration with Annie Lennox and one with Lenny Kravitz, who added his voice to her classic hit “Think.” When asked afterward how her duet with Lenny came about, she said it was due to his friendship with her son, who also happened to play lead guitar for her band that night.
Next, one of the all-time great guitar players performed as a replacement for a reportedly ailing Eric Clapton. This seemed fitting, since in the 1960s, Jeff Beck was Eric’s bandmate in the Yardbirds with Jimmy Page. Jeff was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame this year, and on Friday night he reminded everyone why it was an honor that was well deserved. Sting, Buddy Guy and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top each took a shot at matching their voice to Jeff’s guitar, and each felt like a an experiment in music that went terribly right, especially when Beck and Gibbons recreated Jimmy Hendrix’s masterpiece “Foxy Lady.” No voice was needed for Jeff’s final performance of the night, as he paid tribute to the Beatles with an instrumental version of “A Day in the Life.” It was one worthy of the highest allowable score on “Beatles Rock Band.”
Metallica brought more than just metal when they hit the stage. Starting off with “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the boys were then joined by Lou Reed, before succumbing to the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne. Together they paid tribute to Black Sabbath by performing “Iron Man” and “Paranoid.” Then things took an unexpected turn when Metallica teamed up with the Kinks frontman Ray Davies, giving a metal edge to the punk classic “You Really Got Me.” Before calling it a night, the boys ended the show with one of their biggest hits of all time, “Enter Sandman.” This had its own unexpected twist, as Yankee footage began to play on the monitors above them for no apparent reason. Then again, this is New York during the World Series.
The final and maybe biggest act of the second night at MSG was U2. First, they shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith, performing “Because the Night,” a song Bono said his band only wishes they could have written. His passion for the track became even more apparent when he decided to do it a second time because it was clean on the first take. Bruce stayed on for one more song, lending his voice to the classic U2 song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The next collaboration was one that included a much younger act, by Hall of Fame standards, when the Black Eyed Peas came out to sing “Where is the Love.” Fergie stuck around when Mick Jagger came out to perform “Gimme Shelter.” Mick and Bono kept the energy high, turning “Stuck in a Moment” into a duet. And finally, U2 performed “Beautiful Day,” bringing the night to a beautiful end.