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A history of half times: Bruce’s time to shine

Patrick Griffin | Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January is drawing to a close, creeping towards what some fans have awaited for nearly a year: Super Bowl XLIII is about to go down in the history books on Sunday. Many have gone before and attained the glory that some strive for their entire careers. There have been plenty of surprise endings, unexpected follies, and tear-jerking conclusions in past Super Bowls. This year’s championship game, however, boasts a lineup that may be considered the best yet – a true display of American spirit and culture. Oh yeah, there will be a football game too.In recent years, the buzz surrounding Super Bowl halftime shows has enveloped the nation with anticipation that rivals the game itself. The NFL championship event has blossomed from more than just a football game into an entire cultural event and an American pseudo-holiday. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were selected to perform for Super Bowl XLIII earlier in the season. Before previewing The Boss’s highly anticipated performance, let’s reminisce a grip on Super Bowl performances in recent memory.2002: Irish rockers and humanitarians Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., a.k.a U2, produced one of the most emotional musical performances of all, taking place only months after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The stage on which U2 performed was shaped like a heart and flanked by a giant banner displaying the names of the nearly 3,000 citizens who were victims of the attacks. 2004: Who can ever forget the infamous and controversial “Nipplegate” of Super Bowl XXXVIII? Though the halftime show featured six prolific performing artists (Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Nelly, P. Diddy and Kid Rock) and the University of Houston and Texas Southern marching bands, the entire presentation pales in comparison to the final seconds of the performance. In a pre-rehearsed conclusion to Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” a piece of Jackson’s clothing was torn off, but the wardrobe malfunctioned, revealing her exposed breast. The lewd stunt generated uproar among the American public, heavy fines levied by the FCC, and tighter regulation regarding broadcasting delays and censorship.2005: Former Beatle Paul McCartney brought excitement to the Super Bowl crowd with a set list including the hits “Drive My Car,” “Get Back,” “Live and Let Die” and “Hey Jude” as the audience joined in for a collaborative finale.2006: During the 2006 Super Bowl, the Rolling Stones earned one of the largest television viewing audiences in history, drawing 89.9 million viewers. That total was more than the Oscars, Grammys and Emmy Awards combined. The Stones played “Start Me Up,” “Rough Justice” and “Satisfaction” on a custom stage (the largest in Super Bowl history) in the form of their signature tongue logo.2007: Despite a heavy downpour in Miami, Prince lit up Dolphin Stadium at Super Bowl XLI performing a nonstop 12-minute medley. The performance included several sweeping guitar solos and was performed on a stage in the form of Prince’s logo.2008: Tom Petty & the Heart Breakers performed on a stage shaped like a heart pierced by a Flying V guitar. Petty’s set included “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Falling” and “Running Down a Dream.”So, what will Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen and his E Street Band offer on this Super Bowl Sunday? What shape will his stage take? Will he avoid a derailing wardrobe malfunction? Following a string of creative and memorable performances, expectations are high for an innovative performance. Fresh off of the release of his new album “Working on a Dream,” Springsteen will have plenty of new material to choose from. However, one would assume that he will surely include some of his classic hits that some regard as timeless and legendary anthems. Tune in Sunday night to witness Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band go down in Super Bowl halftime show history.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Patrick Griffin at pgriffi3@nd.edu@nd.edu