Super Bowl Halftime Shows’ Top Rock Moments

By now, everyone knows the deal with the Super Bowl halftime show and what to expect. There hasn’t been a ton of Rock performances showcased over the years and those that were obviously have to comprise their routine to fit the format. As the golden anniversary of the big game approaches, with Coldplay getting the gig this year, Alternative Nation takes a crack at highlighting some of the top ‘Rock Moments’ of Super Bowl halftime performances:

U2 (XXXVI, New Orleans, 2002) – perhaps the most meaningful and moving performance of them all due to the “Where the Streets Have No Name” finale. During a fragile time in U.S. history, U2 beautifully captures the healing power of music as they run a backdrop highlighting the names of all the 9/11 victims.

Prince (XLI, Miami, 2007) – before closing his set with a riveting version of “Purple Rain,” Prince unexpectedly blasts into the Foo Fighters “Best of You.” Grohl, who was on vacation with his family at the time, had no idea Price would be playing his song. “Having been a massive Prince fan my whole life, I was flattered beyond words. What an honor to be covered by one of your heroes,” Grohl said afterwards via Songfacts.

Bruce Springsteen (XLIII, Tampa, 2009)Working on Dream was released earlier in the week. A fitting “Glory Days” preps us for a thrilling second half with a last minute finish. The Boss’ slide across stage(3.52) at 59 years old is the highlight of this performance. The guitar flips at the end are pretty cool too.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (XLII, Glendale, 2008) – Sounding right off the record as usual. Some simple and great visual effects/crowd participation holding up the hearts. “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” is a very appropriate Super Bowl song – and that’s exactly what the Giants did.

Bruno Mars/featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers (XLVIII, East Rutherford, 2014) – bear with me here. The Peppers had nothing to really promote here, but jumped on stage for a unique rendition of “Give it Away” (7.21). The highlight of this performance however is Mars’ drum solo (0.51) to kick it off. Say what you will, the guy is a talented musician (good taste in music/Super Bowl collaborators too.

Paul McCartney (XXXIX, Jacksonville, 2005) – Classic McCartney. Some flash but mostly instruments. The epic “Hey Jude” outro was made for that Super Bowl moment. Worth noting – Fox/Ameriquest delivered a perfect McCartney intro “…building bridges across time and around the world.”
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Honorable Mention:
• The Rolling Stones (XL, Detroit, 2006)
• The Who (XLIV, Miami, 2010)

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Contact: JeffGorra@gmail.com; @JeffGorra on twitter REPORTER: Jeff Gorra Bio: Jeff has been in and around the Rock/Alternative world for many years having spent time at K-Rock radio in New York and Live Nation. Additionally, Jeff served as a street team director under the Chris Cornell camp from 2005-2009. During the years of 2003-2011, Jeff found himself on the other side of the guitar having fronted the New York City band Breakerfall and The Jeff Gorra Band. His first solo effort Jeff Gorra – The Reins was released in late 2010 and still resides on iTunes. Now a New England resident, Jeff came aboard Alternative Nation in 2013 focusing on interviews, after years of being a faithful reader. Fun facts: Jeff is a die-hard New York Giants fan. Some of his favorite artists include; Pearl Jam, John Lennon, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and anything Chris Cornell. Contact Jeff at Jeffgorra @gmail.com
  • Felonious Punk

    You can say what you want about U2 and their music, but that 2002 Superbowl performance was one of the most moving live performances ever. Whoever came up with that idea should be involved in the space program, because it was brilliant.

    There was no other band in the world who could have pulled that off; it had to be U2. I still get chills whenever I watch it and those opening chords for WTSHNN begin.

    No matter how lame their music ever may get, U2 will always get a pass for that one.

    • Corndog

      On behalf of my entire country, i would like to apologise for U2.

      We’re sorry guys, we really are. We fucked up. Can you forgive us, please?

      • ITURBIDE

        You simply can’t throw shit on the band who wrote the “achtung baby” album, one of the best of al time.

        • Corndog

          Look man i said we were sorry! What more do you want from our collective green asses? :)

      • Felonious Punk

        Oh come on. They’re not that bad. Over the top sometimes? Sure…but I think that’s kind of the point. Their hearts are in the right place, which is more than you can say about most celebrities of their stature.

        Plus, the Joshua Tree, The Unforgettable Fire and Achtung Baby are classic albums. That dance record they released in the late-90s was underrated, too.

        • Corndog

          Never been a fan. Just can’t get into them.

        • Pink Taco

          For me it’s Joshua Tree Achtung Baby and Zooropa. The rest of them are good albums but nothing that is my taste but U2 sells every show everywhere so people love it!

      • nomad

        I used to really like U2’s music, especially the Achtung Baby, Zooropa & Pop era. Their superbowl performance was fantastic. I just think they’ve been a snooze for years now.

        • Martha Bartha

          They peaked at Achtung Baby!

      • dakotablue

        When “I Will Follow” came out it was magical–there was no other band who sounded that way at the time, before everybody started copying the Edge’s wall of sound drone guitar, complete with chiming and bagpipe-y effects (yeah, I realize McGuinn sounded somewhat similar in the Byrds). The world fell in love with U2. And they’ve had quite a few really good albums in the years since then, imo.

        • Corndog

          I don’t think they tend to be as popular here in Ireland as they are in the states. I can’t stand them personally. Far as Irish music is concerned, i used to have quite a soft spot for the Cranberries when i was a kid. No one else on this earth sounds quite like Delores O’Riordan.

          • dakotablue

            Yet when the Crans first came out, a lot of people said she sounded like Sinead O’Connor.

          • Corndog

            Really? I don’t recall that, and I would argue that she sounds nothing at all like Sinead, beyond having an Irish accent of course. In fact I’d wager that was the only similarity people (outside of Ireland) were picking up on.

          • dakotablue

            Well, here in the States at least comparisons were made, I read ’em. But the only similarity that I hear is the ability to jump low to high voice with an almost yodel-ly sound.

          • Corndog

            Did you like the Cranberries? I was a big fan of their first two albums.

          • dakotablue

            Yup, also liked their early stuff. Zom-bie-ie-ie-ie-oh-oh-oh!
            Have they disappeared, or did I just tune out their later work?
            Another Sinead similarity: Delores cut her hair very short a few years after Sinead had a shaved head. Trivial, but noticed.

          • Corndog

            I think Delores went solo for a while, but i do remember reading somewhere that were supposed to be getting back together. That was ages ago though and i don’t recall hearing anything since then.

          • Pink Taco

            I get a kick out of that ‘I don’t think they tend to be as popular here in Ireland…’

          • Corndog

            How come?

          • Pink Taco

            irish people are so cool they don’t flock to it just because u2 is from ireland.

          • Corndog

            Well thanks, but i can assure you there is nothing cool about this place. Ireland is a shithole. Not quite as backwards as some Americans i’ve met online seem to think (no, we don’t all live in green tents and farm potatoes) but a shithole none the less. That being said, it’s our shithole, and you know what they say; be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home:)

          • Pink Taco

            I didn’t know you guys lived in tents! Kidding. Is your description from the Tom Cruise movie, “Far and Away” I mean it’s not real sounding. I’m sure everywhere in the world sucks a little bit if you live there.

          • Corndog

            No i don’t think so. Been a long time since i saw that movie. To be honest, i’m not sure i can even remember what it was about.

        • nomad

          I felt the same way – nothing sounded like U2 when they first came along, at least nothing I was familiar with. I really liked their band for a long time. Just lost interest in them over the last 15 years or so.

          • dakotablue

            I think they’ve just kept mining the same musical vein and now a lot of people are tired of it. Listener fatigue. They did try to change up their sound a few times though–I liked the Vertigo title track and Get On Your Boots, for example. However, some of the good old hits still sound great to me.

      • Nikdik

        U2 isn’t bad compared to the awful “musicians” my country has made famous. Katy Perry, Kanye West, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Miley Cyrus can all go die in a fire.

  • dakotablue

    Tom Petty’s Bowl performance one of the best I’ve seen. Prince electrifying.
    McCartney was kinda sad–his voice in tatters, and I don’t get why everybody loves that loooooooong and boring “Hey Jude.” I don’t even think the rest of the Beatles liked that song.

    • Corndog

      The older Mike McCready gets the more he looks like Paul McCartney.

      • dakotablue

        It’s pretty amazing how much Paul still looks like his handsome self. Maybe there’s something to this vegetarian diet stuff after all. That, and millions of bucks to spend on yourself if you want to. Although I really don’t think he’s had “work done” except for maybe the hair.

        • Corndog

          You ever read about that mad conspiracy theory that Paul was killed years ago (car crash i think it was supposed to be) and replaced with a lookalike? I only heard that recently, thought it was funny:)

          • Jimmy Intense

            Hmm words travel slowly to Ireland. That Paul is Dead conspiracy was always one of the more popular (aside from Kurt being murdered of course)

          • Corndog

            Well it did have to be carried here on the back of a donkey being led by a leprechaun you know! That shit takes time! I just found out yesterday Clinton isn’t president anymore.

          • dakotablue

            Yeah, I actually remember all that. I was young and impressionable at the time but still thought it was BS. There were all sorts of “clues” like barefoot Paul on Abbey Road cover, and John saying “turn me on dead man” in Revolution 9 (had to play it backwards to hear, though). Pretty silly!

  • Martha Bartha

    Madonna’s was the best! That stage kept transforming!

  • dakotablue

    Good thing Bruno Mars brought it to this year’s Super Bowl show once again, since the audience was in danger of falling asleep to the slow whiny noodling of Coldplay. Bring in the Americans to really rock the joint! The only mistake was going back to Chris Martin–the energy level immediately nosedived to snail-ville.