Now in its 48 th year, the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala remains the biggest party in the music world — the one that means you have arrived and can mix with a unique collection of the biggest names in the music and film worlds (unless you’re a journalist covering it and would never get in otherwise). It’s a one-of-a-kind collection of personalities and unique performances that range from all corners of the music world, and the 2024 edition did not disappoint.
The pre-show cocktail hour and schmooze was a surreal swirl of starpower: Down at the front tables, Meryl Streep swept past looking for her seat; the guy briefly blocking the walkway between tables was Tom Hanks posing for someone’s selfie; Dua Lipa strode in wearing a stunning full-length maroon leather coat with many silver buttons; Janelle Monae swirled by in a stunning halter-top with gold roses over the breasts. Boygenius moved in a unified swarm, clad in elegant black glam “because we’re going to be wearing suits tomorrow”; the group’s Julien Baker talked animatedly with Brandi Carlile. Victoria Monet sat surrounded by her family on the far left; party perennials Nancy Pelosi (with husband Paul), Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick and Berry Gordy were in their customary front spots. Jelly Rolled through, Cher and Shania Twain sat regally at the head of their respective tables.
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There were a pair of Maxes (hitmaker Martin and top Warner Music exec Lousada) at the bar near the entrance — “We’re forming a band, you know what it’s called? Eminem!” (groans all around). Mark Ronson and fellow “Barbie” music producer Andrew Wyatt were at the best-located socializing table, beside the entrance to the front seats; Grammy Icon honoree/ Sony Music Publishing CEO Jon Platt and SZA manager/Variety’s Hitmakers executive of the year Terrance “Punch” Henderson rolled deep. Other notables in the crowd included Jon Bon Jovi, Andra Day, Lenny Kravitz, Megan Thee Stallion, Gayle King, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, Julia Garner and Foster the People’s Mark Foster, Haim Saban Paul Shaffer, David Foster and Katharine McPhee, Stevie Wonder, Cameron Crowe, Adrien Brody and Sammy Hagar.
Finally, at around 9:30, the show got off to a rousing start with Green Day — introduced by admitted superfan Serena Williams — who blasted through “American Idiot” and “Basket Case,” with Billie Joe Armstrong noting that the songs were 20 and 30 years old this year, respectively. Williams’ proved her point about Green Day being one of her favorite rock bands by standing up at her table throughout the mini-set, cheering them on. Hanks then took the microphone to deliver a hilarious monologue about Davis’ legendary career (“The soundtracks of our lives,” Hanks enthused about the depth of Davis’ impact on his artists); Grammy chief Harvey Mason Jr. recalled the Academy being called out for its lack of diversity four years ago at the party by Sean “Diddy” Combs and spoke of its progress in changing that.
And then the man himself took the stage for the 48th time, offering dozens of regal shout-outs during his monologues throughout the show (Mariah Carey gets a gold star for arriving right before her shout-out and leaving just as quickly after).
And a wide variety of performances were staged throughout the evening: Ronson, Wyatt and the ace house band performed “I’m Just Ken” — but since Ryan Gosling wasn’t available, rising country star Lainey Wilson brought an unexpected taste of Nashville power to the song. Victoria Monét performed a tightly — and awesomely — choreographed version of “On My Mama.” Ice Spice brought ample booty to the proceedings, followed by an “Okay…” from Davis that was imitated by audience members throughout the rest of the evening.
Noah Kahane brought “Stick Season” to Beverly Hills Josh Groban performed an ultra-dramatic gospelized reading of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with War and Treaty’s Michael Trotter. Jelly Roll gave a touching speech about his long road to the star-studded party (“thank you for having my white-trash ass,” he told the crowd) before turning in a powerful pair of country-bluesy numbers, including a blazing version of “Save Me” with Lainey Wilson. Machine Gun Kelly stood at his table throughout Jelly Roll’s set.
As midnight approached, Public Enemy began the tribute to Icon honoree Jon Platt with a roaring triple-shot of “Can’t Truss It,” “Bring the Noise” and “Fight the Power,” chanting Platt’s name at the end; the Isley Brothers followed with “Shout.” Platt, the rare industry titan who is much more known for his modesty than bluster, gave an uncharacteristically long, career-defining speech in which he thanked both the executives and especially the artists (who he’d happened to sign) that helped him along the way — far too many to mentioned but we’ll single out Jheryl Busby, the late Clarence Avant and Jay-Z and Beyonce.
And with that, the evening wound down with a tight performance from Maluma and an evening-closing all-star performance on “That’s What Friends Are For” from Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder, who were joined by Andra Day and Keyshia Cole. And as the evening entered its sixth hour, the lights came up and the remaining audience stumbled off into the night.
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