CLIVE DAVIS’ LOWER-WATT GALA

With many top-level stars skip­ping the ’19 Gram­mys, the record-exec’s pre-party be­longs to Nancy Pelosi.

Los Angeles Times - - THE GRAMMYS - MIKAEL WOOD POP MU­SIC CRITIC

As usual, Clive Davis had no trou­ble fill­ing his pre-Grammy gala with stars.

The an­nual din­ner and show, which the veteran record ex­ec­u­tive co-presents with the Record­ing Academy, is well known for its ap­pear­ances by mu­sic’s big­gest names ahead of mu­sic’s big­gest night.

And Satur­day’s edi­tion was no ex­cep­tion, with the spot­light land­ing at dif­fer­ent points on the likes of Bar­bra Streisand, Maren Mor­ris, Joni Mitchell and Beck.

Yet none of those fa­mous singers was on­stage in a ball­room at the Bev­erly Hil­ton; each was com­pelled to stand and wave from his or her seat in the au­di­ence as Davis went through his sig­na­ture roll call, which also included such non­mu­si­cians as David Hock­ney, Tim Cook, Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar, Calvin Klein, Ted Saran­dos and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

That fi­nal guest, whom Davis de­scribed as “the high­est-rank­ing elected fe­male politi­cian ever,” re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion more ro­bust than any re­ac­tion to the per­form­ers to come, be­gin­ning with Travis Scott.

“Y’all are look­ing a lit­tle tense in here,” the rap­per told the crowd af­ter he opened the con­cert with his hit “Goose­bumps.” Then Scott said that if he’d wanted a quiet night, he would’ve stayed home with his 1-year-old daugh­ter, Stormi. “I came to rage,” he added. But who could blame folks for not rag­ing with him? As with Sun­day’s Gram­mys cer­e­mony — ex­pected to be sat out by A-lis­ters like Ari­ana Grande and Ken­drick La­mar — the party’s lineup of acts this year felt con­sid­er­ably lower-wattage than in the past.

Keala Set­tle was there to sing “This Is Me,” her corny feel-good an­them from “The Great­est Show­man.” Brandi Carlile turned up at her zil­lionth awards-sea­son event to do “The Joke.”

And Florida Ge­or­gia Line and Bebe Rexha teamed for a ren­di­tion of “Meant to Be” that ex­uded only relief that they might soon be fin­ished with this in­escapable pop-coun­try smash. (The rap­per Future, who’d been sched­uled to per­form, might’ve pro­vided a burst of in­ten­sity, but he didn’t show.)

A funny ac­cep­tance speech by Clarence Avant, the 87-year-old mu­sic exec given the academy’s In­dus­try Icon award, was a high­light; he said that when he was told about the prize, his first ques­tion was whether he’d be paid.

Lively too was a quick per­for­mance in Avant’s honor by the Time, the long-run­ning Min­neapo­lis funk band, fea­tur­ing Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (who went on to work with Janet Jack­son) and singer Mor­ris Day.

Af­ter that, though, the show turned into a vari­a­tion on the academy’s re­cent Aretha Franklin trib­ute, which wasn’t par­tic­u­larly strong to start with.

Jazmine Sul­li­van and Rob Thomas sounded good in “I Knew You Were Wait­ing” but dis­played all the chem­istry of two peo­ple shar­ing a den­tist’s wait­ing room. And Le­disi made a med­ley of “Think” and “Re­spect” that felt like pro­fes­sional Aretha karaoke.

As they did at the ear­lier Franklin salute, the sis­ter duo Chloe x Halle sang “Sis­ters Are Doin’ It for Them­selves,” though not be­fore Davis hyped the show-clos­ing per­for­mance by promis­ing it would con­clude with an all-star fi­nale.

So who turned up for that (even as the crowd was quickly thin­ning out)? Carlile, Set­tle and Va­lerie Simp­son, the great soul song­writer be­hind vin­tage hits by Marvin Gaye and Chaka Khan.

All due re­spect to Simp­son, of course. But if Scott was still in the room, rag­ing he was not.

Gina Fer­azzi Los An­ge­les Times

TRAVIS SCOTT brings some much-needed elec­tric­ity to Clive Davis’ pre-Gram­mys soiree Satur­day at the Bev­erly Hil­ton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.