2010 – The Who
2009 – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2008 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
2007 – Prince
2006 – The Rolling Stones
2005 – Paul McCartney
Why is it that the powers that be on the Super Bowl music committee keep choosing halftime acts who have been performing longer than I’ve been alive? Because they put on a good show. The last time pop music made memorable appearances at the Super Bowl were 2004’s nipple disaster aka Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake and 2001’s Aerosmith/Britney Spears pairing. I remember watching the Jackson/Timberlake debacle in disbelief. I think it actually resulted in a record number of playbacks for TiVo at the time and subsequently changed not only Super Bowl music choices forever but also the rules of live TV. An avid Aerosmith fan, I always enjoy the boys from Boston rocking out but I do think that Steven Tyler spent way too much time staring at Britney’s ass during that performance.
On the other hand, McCartney, the Stones, the artist currently known as Prince, Petty and the Boss put on incredible shows that drew acclaim and a ton of viewers. It helps that each act played fan favorites: McCartney played “Live and Let Die” and “Hey Jude” and The Stones’ set included “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction.” Prince kicked it up a notch with a medley of songs he played in typical Miami monsoon-like rain. His set featured “Let’s Go Crazy,” covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” and of course the spectacular and completely appropriate “Purple Rain.” Considering how hard as he was rocking with that guitar in the pouring rain I was shocked that he didn’t get electrocuted. Petty and his Heartbreakers played “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’” better than ever and Springsteen’s voice soared with “Born To Run” and “Glory Days” as he slid into the camera. It was so awesome that my Mother actually asked the owner of the bar (where we were watching the 2009 Super Bowl) to turn up the volume.
Tonight the 2010 version of The Who which consists of half of the original members (drummer Keith Moon died of an overdose in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle died of a cocaine- induced heart attack in 2002) performed in Miami, Florida in front of over 76,000 people. Or more importantly, for millions of people watching at home. Their set included favorites such as “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley” (commonly referred to as “Teenage Wasteland”) and “Who Are You” and Robert Daltrey sounded pretty good for his age, especially considering how much energy he has spent fighting with Pete Townshend over the years. But I’ll be honest, I was most excited for the Pete Townshend windmill and I got it! Also, he kind of looked extremely happy to be there. Although The Who’s performance was nothing compared to Prince playing the hell out of “Purple Rain” in the rain, it was cool to see them up there. It will be interesting to see if the classic rock halftime shows continue.