As a celebration for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary, the institute held two star-studded concerts in late October 2009, each bill bursting with inductees from throughout the decades. It’s all captured here on a four-disc box (the individual nights are available as two separate two-CD sets). Covers and collaborations were the order of the day, usually in sensible pairings: James Taylor sat in with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jeff Beck reprised his guitar showcase on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” Darlene Love fronted the E-Street Band, Metallica gleefully supports Ozzy Osbourne on a pair of Black Sabbath songs, U2 leads Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and Roy Bittan make it through “Because the Night.” Surprises aren’t quite the order of the day -- the only performance that reimagines the original is Jeff Beck’s instrumental reading of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” -- and that goes for cameos from the younger set, too: Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello naturally appears during Springsteen’s stomp through “London Calling,” John Legend steps in for Marvin Gaye during Wonder’s set and Fergie does capable Merry Clayton during U2 and Mick Jagger’s “Gimme Shelter.” Then again, who turns to a celebration of the past for anything but comfort? A reminder of what they loved in the first place? This concert does indeed offer that, and if there are some bumpy moments -- the pairing of Lou Reed and Metallica on “Sweet Jane” defies any logic -- they are outweighed by the pleasure of professionals taking a stroll through their back pages.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2