As the clock neared midnight, the audience at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday night (April 10) would have been excused for showing a lack in energy. After all, the event had started several hours earlier and was already running nearly a half-hour long.
But as the notes of new Rock Hall inductees Hall & Oates‘ “You Make My Dreams Come True” faded, the lights at New York’s Barclays Center went down, and a video retrospective about Nirvana suddenly lit up the arena. This inspired cheers and screams from the reawakened audience — never mind the fact that many were too young to have seen the band during their all-too-brief lifetime.
The real excitement, though, was yet to come.
When it came time for the induction, Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic accepted, along with the late Kurt Cobain’s mother, sister and wife (Courtney Love). And as with KISS, who had been inducted earlier in the evening, the vibe was more than just civil, it were truly warm.
Grohl gave credit to the four Nirvana drummers who preceded him. He also encouraged fans not to idolize their favorite artists, but to emulate them: “Don’t look at the poster on your wall and say ‘I could never do that.’ Look at it and say, ‘I’m gonna do that!”
Love’s speech was short and surprisingly sweet, and included her hugging Grohl in a poignant moment (the two haven’t always gotten along over the years).
The performance that came next, though, was perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening.
Nirvana always rebelled against rock music’s machismo, and the night’s performance clearly illustrated that ethos. When Grohl and Novoselic took the stage to perform a set of Nirvana classics, they were joined by an impressive roster of some of rock music’s most iconic (and powerful) female artists.
As speculated, one of them was Joan Jett, who took the stage to sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” She was followed by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth for “Aneurysm,” St. Vincent for “Lithium” and finally — and somewhat surprisingly — Lorde for “All Apologies.” Needless to say, the Barclays Center audience was both stunned and elated, and they remained captivated throughout the performance.
If Thursday’s Rock Hall induction ceremony turns out to be the last time Grohl and Novoselic perform Nirvana songs together, it was at least a great way for them to finally say goodbye to one of the most incredible bodies of work in rock and roll.