Sunday, February 01, 2009

Retire the Half-Time Show

After Bruce Springsteen's show at HarleyFest, I ran into a sheriff's deputy that I saw on the grounds and asked him what he thought of the show. "Not enough hits," he grumped. Hmm. What the men don't know, the little girls understand. Or something like that.

Faced with 12 minutes of airtime on a make-shift stage at the Super Bowl tonight, Bruce and the E-Streeters had some decisions to make. Time for three short songs, or they could easily stretch out "Kitty's Back" or "Rosalita" for the whole set.

But, no. Ever the populist, Bruce saw his opportunity to introduce the world to the magic of an E-Street concert, squeezed expertly to fit the time they had. From the opening riffs of "10th Avenue Freezeout" to the declaration of "Boss Time!" by Little Steven at the end of "Glory Days", the joy and dynamic thrust of the band -- beefed up by what I assume was the Seeger Session horn section -- Bruce and the band put their beautiful perfect selves in America's face in those short 12 minutes. If those who weren't hip to the Bruce thing didn't get it this night, they never will.

All the songs were shortened to make time for more songs and more mugging by Bruce with the lucky Tampa residents invited onto the field. The only surprise in the set was the promotion of new product, a moving rendition of "Working on a Dream", featuring the same kind of gospel singers he did "The Rising" with at the Lincoln Memorial celebration two weeks ago. Bruce better watch out -- he looks and sounds pretty damn good with that kind of support. Clarence and Steve in choir robes? I don't think so.

Anyway, the performance and choices made couldn't have been better. I've never seen Springsteen connect on TV the way he did this night. For the record, I predicted the easy ones ("Born to Run" and "Glory Days") and whiffed on the others (a little too cute, I called "Dancing in the Dark" with a Courtney Cox cameo).

The Super Bowl half-time show has come a long way since Janet Jackson's exposed nipple in 2004 (a golden moment I shared with a room full of amused 10 year-olds). Now, they should just retire the damn thing and bring back the marching bands. Next year's performer will be like the card trick guy who followed the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I felt sorry for him, too.


illusory tenant said...

bring back the marching bands.

Or Up With People.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Mike. Bruce did his best as usual, but the Super Bowl production has become ridiculously far-removed from anything close to sports and/or reality.

Mike Plaisted said...

Yes! Up With People! Sing it with me: "Up, up with people/You meet 'em wherever you go/Up, up with people/They're the best kind of folks we know (We Know!)/If more people/Were for people/And people everywhere/There'd be a lot less people to worry about/And a lot more people who care."

caieva said...

oh no - how do I too know every word to Up With People - so sad.
Bruce, god bless him and the whole shooting match - think those were the Miami Horns,
hope they join the tour!
and Patti looked like a million bucks!

Anonymous said...

After the pathetic showing by Bruce, I'm all for having the marching bands back, they would be a huge improvement. Although the mike slide did get a pretty good laugh.

Tom McMahon said...

The Four Complete Historic Ed Sullivan Shows featuring the Beatles and other Artists (2003): A terrific DVD to catch all those other acts. $5 used on Amazon.