The Rolling Stones at the Super Bowl Halftime Show
by Brian McAlley





OK, let me get one thing straight, I love the Rolling Stones. I've been a fan since the release of their first album way back in 1964, and there's no question in my mind that they are still the greatest rock and roll band of all time. I waited in great anticipation to revel in the excitement of their Super Bowl halftime performance, only to be a bit disappointed in the end. Maybe my expectations were too high, especially after recently viewing one of their outstanding performances from the Bridges to Babylon Tour on DVD, but whatever the case, their halftime performance, though exhilarating, was somewhat of a letdown.

The band kicked off the mini-concert with their perennial opener, Start Me Up, followed by the hard rocking Rough Justice, then concluded with an extended version of the 1965 classic, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. For a hard-core fan like myself, a performance by the Stones had the potential to be the ultimate halftime show, but even though it was great to see them, there were definitely some disappointments along the way. First off, since it was only going to be a three-song set, I would have preferred to hear a few of their truly classic numbers like Jumpin' Jack Flash, Tumbling Dice, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Sympathy For The Devil, or Gimme Shelter, just to name a few. In my opinion, Start Me Up has become too much of a retread, Rough Justice is relatively new and doesn't hold a candle to any of their classic numbers, and even though Satisfaction is one of my favorite Stones tunes, I never particularly liked the way they do it live.

Creating a bit of controversy was the fact that the band apparently agreed to let the NFL bleep out any lyrics that they deemed offensive via a five-second delay, thus Start Me Up (
"You make a dead man cum") along with Rough Justice ("Once upon a time I was your little rooster, but am I just one of your cocks") ended up being prime targets for the censor. Despite their supposed agreement, the band was not happy with the censoring and their spokeswoman told the media that "the measure was absolutely ridiculous and completely unnecessary." I have to agree with the Stones on this issue. The excised lyrics have been played on the radio and in sporting arenas worldwide countless times with never a thought of them being offensive. The NFL was apparently trying to prevent another debacle like the Janet Jackson incident two years ago, even though that too was blown way out of proportion.

Along with the song selection, I also felt that the overall sound was disappointing, but I did keep in mind that the crew working with the Stones had to assemble the stage, erect twenty-seven tons of lights, and make a quick sound check, all in less than six minutes, which was a monumental task in itself. The mammoth stage, which was a giant replica of the Stones logo, was quite an impressive piece of work that had self-contained pyrotechnics plus an amazing unfurling tongue that revealed a gallery of screaming, exhaulted fans underneath. After their twelve-minute performance, the entire stage had to be disassembled once again in the same six-minute time frame and the crew were actually in the process of taking it apart as the band were still taking their final bows.

Despite my criticisms, I must say that the band worked very hard during their abreviated set, especially Mick Jagger, who was so full of energy that he tired me out just watching him. And even though I found this latest performance to be somewhat flawed, I have to admit that these old geezers can still rock and roll with the best of them.


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