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After catching last years VH1 Rock Honors show completely by accident, and being pretty thrilled by the live performances, I made a point to remember when the show would be premiering this year, which was May 24th 2007.
I tend to avoid VH1 at all costs, but every so often there is a reason to watch, whether it be a unique rock and roll documentary, or some one time live performances. Last year, the lineup of honorees of Queen, Def Leopard, Judas Priest and KISS produced some great tribute performances, including an all-star one time lineup for KISS, plus electric performances by all 4 of the honored bands themselves.
This year's lineup of honorees was ZZ Top, Heart, Genesis, and Ozzy Osbourne, which seems like a pretty great lineup ... although a little strange. Maybe it's just because I'm not really a Genesis fan, but Genesis on the same stage as Ozzy, or even ZZ Top doesn't seem like a good match. Still, it's a lineup that I thought would surely produce some great tributes and some great performances, so I watched.
The show started with ZZ Top and a surprisingly rockin' tribute from Nickelback. I've never really been a fan of Nickelback's music, but I'll give them credit for doing a pretty good cover of "Sharp Dressed Man". As for the "Little ole Band from Texas'" set, it was more proof that this band, although nearly 40 years old now in 2007, can still bring the blues stomp with the same power and style. This particular show had a bit more of a loose feel than some of the other performances, but makes sense for their style. That said, I've seen some absolutely amazing performances by ZZ Top, and although this one is great, I've also seen better... Definitely worth watching though.
Gretchen Wilson and Alice in Chains paid tribute to Heart with "Barracuda." This may not seem like the most obvious pairing at first, but they rocked this classic song, capturing some of the fire and passion that the original has. Heart then took the stage for "Straight On' and of course, "Crazy on You," with the latter being the stand out. "Crazy on You" is just one of those songs that has so much soul, and it looks like the band can still bring some of that soul to the stage. I've never been a huge Heart fan, but they did write some catchy rock during their time and put on a good show.
Keane played the tribute to Genesis and did a pretty decent job of covering "That's All." I'm not really a huge Genesis fan, but I have a lot of respect for the band because their music is well written, creative and unique. I gained a little more respect watching their set though, which was surprisingly electric, soulful and passionate. Although it is still a little odd to have them playing to the same crowd as Ozzy, they did sound great playing "Turn it On Again" and "No Son of Mine."
A personal highlight for me was Queens of the Stone Age paying tribute to Ozzy with Black Sabbath's "Paranoid". When I first heard that QOTSA would be performing I actually assumed it would be in tribute to ZZ Top, because there is so much early ZZ Top in their sound. Then again, they're also influenced a lot by Black Sabbath. This song particularly, my favorite Black Sabbath song actually, fits them so well, that as they ripped through it with their own ragged intensity it really seemed to capture a bit of the original Black Sabbath feel, without sounding overtly like a cover.
Ozzy of course closed the show as his usual crazy self, with "I Don't Wanna Stop" and "Crazy Train." Few people have the kind of stage presence that Ozzy Osbourne. He is strangely charismatic and can really command a crowd. His shows always hit hard with lots of excitement and it always seem like he's having a ton of fun rockin' out, as do the musicians who play with him, which really makes for great performances. This one is no exception and serves as a great way to close the show.
I'm sure this show will be shown again late at night more than once, so if you get the chance, check it out. I'd also recommend maybe muting anything that isn't artist tribute, interview or performance because some of the introductions seem to me, even more like filler than what goes on between the awards at other award shows... except maybe the intro from Robin Williams for Genesis, which was actually pretty amusing.
You can also just watch the performances, some other exclusive performances and other extras over at Rock.VH1.com and skip all the commercials etc.
Overall, there were a lot of good performances, definitely worth checking out if you're at all a fan of any of the honorees. We'll see who's honored next year.