A little more than 40 years after its release, the Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks 1964-1971 still stands as one of rock’n'roll’s most quintessential compilations. Yet last night (March 13) at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall, 21 musicians spanning generations and genres lines found a way to inject new life into the classic hits.
The two and half-hour show — produced by Michael Dorf, NYC’s tribute concert promoter of choice — kicked off with a performance of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” from Brooklyn rockers TV on the Radio, Italian singer-songwriter Jovanotti and the Young Audiences New York Chorus, which set the bar high in terms of honoring the original.
There is something to be said for a cover that brings the past to life, and that was in no short supply last night. Taj Mahal and his daughter were the perfect fit for the bluesy swagger of “Honky Tonk Women,” while Ronnie Spector and Ian Hunter both impressed with boundlessly energetic renditions of “Time Is On My Side” and “19th Nervous Breakdown,” respectively. The New York Dolls’ David Johansen, who resembles Jagger to begin with, took imitation to new levels with tight white jeans and a boastful stage strut during his cover of “Get Off My Cloud.”
Considering their respective health problems (breast cancer and repeated exhaustion for Faithfull, vocal cord paresis for Garfunkel), Marianne Faithfull and Art Garfunkel battled through their covers — “As Tears Go By” and “Sister Morphine” for Faithfull, an easy listening “Ruby Tuesday” for Garfunkel — and were greeted with warm receptions for their efforts. Jackson Browne still has that boyish charm, easily pleasing the crowd with his two collaborations with Marc Cohn (a down-tempo, acoustic “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and a gorgeous “Wild Horses”).
Perhaps what enthralled the crowd more was when the performer put their own stamp on the songs, such as Rickie Lee Jones‘ surprisingly bewitching acoustic cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” and Rosanne Cash‘s vocally layered take on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Indie rockers Gomez, the Mountain Goats, Glen Hansard, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops had no trouble totally reinventing their covers — with varying degrees of success.
Actress Juliette Lewis played the sex kitten, strutting about in hot pants and bedazzled heels and hair-flipping her red mane to the soundtrack of “Satisfaction.” It was an out-of-place tribute – as was Peaches‘ “Heart of Stone” – and the crowd differed between excited and confused.
In the end, all performers together for a relatively uninspired take on Exile on Main Street single “Tumbling Dice,” whose biggest appeal was the thrill of seeing the wide cast of characters dancing and mingling on stage together. What would have saved the finale? Mick, Keith and the rest of the Stones, who were not in attendance last night.
Set list: Rolling Stones Tribute at Carnegie Hall, 3/14/2012
1. Jovanotti & TV on the Radio (with Young Audiences NY Chorus) – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
2. Ronnie Spector – “Time Is On My Side”
3. Peaches – “Heart of Stone”
4. Rich Robinson (of the Black Crowes) – “Play With Fire”
5. Juliette Lewis – “Satisfaction”
6. Marianne Faithfull – “As Tears go By”
7. David Johansen (of the New York Dolls) – “Get Off My Cloud”
8. Steve Earle – “Mothers Little Helper”
9. Ian Hunter and the Rant Band – “19th Nervous Breakdown”
10. The Mountain Goats – “Paint It Black”
11. Glen Hansard (of the Swell Season) – “Under My Thumb”
12. Art Garfunkel – “Ruby Tuesday”
13. Jackson Browne with Marc Cohn – “Let’s Spend the Night Together”
14. Gomez – “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
15. Angelique Kidjo – “Street Fighting Man”
16. Rickie Lee Jones – “Sympathy for the Devil”
17. Taj Mahal – “Honky Tonk Women”
18. Rosanne Cash – “Gimmie Shelter”
19. Carolina Chocolate Drops – “Midnight Rambler”
20. Jackie Greene – “Brown Sugar”
21. Marc Cohn With Jackson Browne – “Wild Horses”
22. Marianne Faithfull – “Sister Morphine”
23. All performers – “Tumbling Dice”