The list of Pollstar Concert Industry Awards winners is always the major part of the story. But there's also the show itself, usually marked by a couple of tearful acceptances, some presenters that are surprisingly entertaining and a choice glitch or two that add to the personality of a live and unrehearsed show.
This year's event was held February 7th in the fabulous Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. Guests were greeted by the AEG Live staff with champagne and encouraged to explore the four levels of the lobby.
The Smothers Brothers started the evening with a classic routine punctuated by Tommy's soft-sell punch lines.
Dick: "Why would you go to such an effort to lie to these people and tell them you're a pilot?"
Tommy: "It really wasn't that much of an effort."
Peter & Gordon not only reunited to present an award but also performed their huge hit "World Without Love" at the top of the show.
Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt provided one of the more memorable presentations. Before reading off the list of nominees for Transportation Company of the year, Bettencourt told the crowd that Extreme still owed a huge balance to one of the companies. He played up who it was (Rock-It Cargo) as the list was read, then opened the envelope.
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me."
The crowd got to see the winner of the Independent Promoter of the Year about five minutes early when Charles Attal's face was splashed on the video screens. It actually added to the show - when the nominees were read, the crowd played along. They also graciously applauded for and cheered the other nominees - especially for Jon Stoll, who recently passed away. Stoll was also thanked during the acceptance speech for the 9:30 Club for best nightclub.
But the big surprise was Andrew Dice Clay. After psyching himself up backstage, the Diceman provided 10 minutes of new material that pretty much killed. Certainly, some in the audience were offended, but that's to be expected from the only comic to be permanently banned from MTV. Later it was learned that Clay could still sell out a room two weeks in advance in a college town even though, as he mentioned on stage, he was at the awards looking for work.
"Weird Al" Yankovic hammed up the presentation of the "Harvey Leeds Award," better known as the Artist Development Exec of the Year. No surprise, it was Leeds who won but the record industry veteran still had something surprising to say. After saying "you're only as good as the people around you" but "at Sony, there's nobody around me because they all got fired" - Leeds said April 1st would be his last day at the rapidly fading recording giant.
Irving Azoff accepted the Manager of the Year from presenters Taylor Swift and David Coverdale but it was Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit who delivered the trophy on stage. Azoff took the opportunity to tell the crowd a Walsh story involving adjacent rooms and a chainsaw. Irving also thanked the crowd even though "we probably screwed everyone in this room."
Neil Warnock was surprised when Peter Frampton walked out to present him with his U.K. Booking Agent of the Year trophy.
Presenters Deborah Gibson, Tiffany and Juliette Lewis looked terrific. Dave Koz and Ray Parker Jr. were as dapper as ever. Donovan provoked flashbacks and Meat Loaf looked fit and healthy as he presented The Police with their Tour of the Year award which they accepted via video from Japan where the group is on tour.
Van Halen was also on tour so Eddie and the band presented Road Warrior honors via video to Marc Robbins, who was summoned to their dressing room where he was surprised by surgically gloved band members waiting to see if he was really worthy.
The AEG-sponsored after-party included everything from roast beef to Mexican food, with mixed drinks - including margaritas and Grey Goose vodka martinis - and tall beers (the Nokia offers different beers on each level).
There were lots of surprise guests floating around the party. Chad Kroeger of Nickelback popped in, complete with wife and bodyguard, to visit some of his industry partners.