Conan O’Brien Belts Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ at Love Rocks NYC 2024

Conan O’Brien Belts Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ at Love Rocks NYC 2024

Considering that Conan O’Brien made a name for himself by subverting TV comedy tropes in the ‘90s, people were ready for something weird when the comedian kicked off the eighth annual Love Rocks NYC benefit concert at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre on Thursday (March 7). But it’s safe to say few people expected him to grab a guitar and deliver a full rock band performance of Elvis Presley’s final Hot 100 No. 1, “Suspicious Minds” – and honestly, he killed it. He hammed it up on the bridge, but the ginger giant delivered a mostly straight-faced take on the song and proved he’s got a solid set of pipes. You might not turn a red chair for him on The Voice, but he’s good enough to be a ringer at a karaoke bar (plus, it’s fun to see that orange pompadour undulating as he headbangs).

That was one of the many unexpected delights at Love Rocks NYC, a fundraising show for the New York City nonprofit God’s Love We Deliver, which hand delivers 10,000 medically tailored meals to New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses every weekday. It’s an inarguably fantastic cause, and everyone involved – rock royalty, comedy legends and rising talents – brought their A-game to the Beacon Theatre.

Eagles’ Don Felder played “Hotel California” on his signature double-neck guitar; Dave Grohl rocked out “Everlong”; Hozier belted “Take Me to Church”; Nile Rodgers brought the “Good Times”; and the Black Keys trotted out “Lonely Boy.”

Even so, most of the standout moments came courtesy of artists banding together for unexpected covers. For instance, who knew that Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” needed a trombone solo? But when Trombone Shorty, Joss Stone and Ivan Neville teamed up to cover the late, great Purple One, it brought a fresh New Orleans flavor to the Minneapolis sound. Speaking of Stone, the British soul singer had jaws on the floor with a fervent cover of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” which had Tracy Morgan dancing side stage, hands in the air. Aside from Morgan and O’Brien, Martin Short, Bill Murray and Jim Gaffigan kept the night moving between sets, managing to make “donate now!” exhortations funnier than they should be. (Short’s quip that it’s a “rule of show business” to never ask Nick Cannon what he’s doing on Father’s Day was a chef’s-kiss moment.)

“Love Rocks is its own thing. We designed this concert to feel like a real rock n’ roll concert. While we do a text-to-give and message the charity throughout the show, we never wanted this to feel like a benefit or a gala. We do the majority of the fundraising prior to the show, so that when people come to the concert it is all about the music and entertainment,” Love Rocks NYC co-executive producer Greg Williamson tells Billboard. “And for the artists it is a very special experience where they get to see their friends and have a reunion with so many fellow artists that they love and respect. It’s a true lovefest and Love really does rock.”

It was a testament to the quality of the lineup (not to mention the flawless house band led by Will Lee) that the four-hour affair flew by. Bettye LaVette brought soul and attitude to a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed”; Tom Morello steered a sing-along to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” complete with the oft-excised verse about hungry people waiting for relief; The Struts’ Luke Spiller led a crowd-pleasing take on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”; and Allison Russell and Hozier traded vocals on a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” that was so good one hopes they record a studio version.

The evening closed with an all-star jam to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” led by the Chic frontman who co-produced the Hot 100 No. 1 for the Thin White Duke – with Grohl on the drums, no less. “Is it possible that the entire evening was a favorite moment?” asks Love Rocks NYC co-executive producer Nicole Rechter. “Love Rocks 2024 was riveting from the opening act with Conan to the finale with Dave Grohl on drums. The night never let up with extraordinary performances from all the artists and comedians.”

Just like God’s Love We Deliver feeds thousands of New Yorkers in need every day, the audience at the 2024 Love Rocks NYC show left the Beacon Theatre well fed – and ready for the next one.

The post “Conan O’Brien Belts Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ at Love Rocks NYC 2024” by Joe Lynch was published on 03/08/2024 by