For the fifteen people on Earth who missed the Super Bowl yesterday, not only did you miss a pretty classic game (or at least a classic 4th Quarter), but you also missed the halftime show, turned into an old-time New Jersey beach party by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. For your benefit, Attack of the Blog is here to give The Boss a review.
As far as I'm concerned, the gold standard for Super Bowl halftime shows, the moment of the infamous Janet Jackson 'wardrobe malfunction' notwithstanding, was Prince's set two years ago, when he tore it up in the rain and delivered a set that made you forget that you were watching a football game. Last night, Bruce threw his hat into the ring, and showed that he can still put on one of the great live shows in rock n' roll, even at his advanced age.
Opening with '10th Avenue Freezeout' from the immortal Born To Run, Bruce took the opening vamp to tell people that, though it was the Super Bowl, they should put down their avocado dip, put down their chicken fingers, and bow to the pageantry and the majesty of rock. The song, which tells the story of the formation of the E Street Band, really took off when Springsteen and 'The Big Man,' Clarence Clemons, stood back-to-back and played the crap out of it. Before too long, Bruce was on his knees and doing a power slide...right into a cameraman, crotch first.
Then it was 'Born To Run,' and, though there were a couple hundred people who were obviously paid to stand in front of the stage and look like 'fans,' it was obvious that the 70,000 people assembled knew the song pretty well, too, singing along loudly.
Of course, the reason Bruce agreed to do the show was that he had a new album to promote, and promote it he did, busting out a grey-clad gospel choir to deliver a version of 'Working On A Dream,' from the new album of the same title. It's always a little awkward premiering a new song to about a billion people watching worldwide, and, though it's a decent song, it was the weak point of the set.
Perhaps because it's the only song in his repertoire to prominently feature lyrics about football, Springsteen selected 'Glory Days' from Born In The USA to close out the set. Never one of my favorites, but still a well-known and loved song, and made better by the bizarre appearance of a ref lookalike to throw a flag for Bruce running overtime and 'delaying the game.'
The banter between Springsteen and Little Steven Van Zandt at the end was a little cheesy, but still cool, and then the man and his band were off in a hailstorm of fireworks. It was loud, it was good, there was a ton of energy. In short, a distilled version of an E Street Band set.
Prince still holds the title, especially for whipping out the Foo Fighters cover and playing his guitar in a rainstorm, but Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band definitely gave a performance to remember.