Super Bowl XL: The Rolling Stones
The excitement that is rock and roll, by and large, has always had difficulty coming across on television. The television screen puts limitations on the visuals of a rock and roll show, especially the feedback the crowd gives the band when they're playing well. Plus, rock and roll is meant to play loud, and no matter how loud you put the volume up on your television, most of the time it just doesn't translate.
However, there have been a few times where rock and roll has transcended the television screen and brought across truly memorable moments. Of course, when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, it was such an historic event that what you heard didn't matter--it was only what you saw. A few years ago, U2 played at halftime of the Super Bowl, and again, although the sound was a bit murky, their performance was so mesmerizing that people still talk about.
This year's Super
Bowl halftime show featured The Rolling Stones. As big a fan as I am (I've seen them live over 20
times), I was curious to see how they would come across on television. They've been appearing on TV for over 40 years,
so they know the drill, and Mick Jagger certainly knows how to play to the cameras.
Beginning with the opening power chords of "Start Me Up", the sound coming through was not quite right. It seemed the guitar mix was way down. Visually, the stage (the famous tounge and lips logo) looked great on screen, and I would love to see the Stones employ this stage set-up as their permanent stadium stage.
The sound was still muddy, but in the middle of Ron Wood's solo, the sound came through, and I was finally able to watch them play. The camera work was outstanding, as they followed Mick strutting around the stage. And let's not forget one very important factor--they were great! As I expected, ABC edited out some of the song's raunchier lyrics toward the end of the song, but you knew that was going to happen, so no big shock.
The next song was "Rough Justice" off their latest album, "A Bigger Bang". It's a terrific song in its own right, but since they're playing to a huge audience, of which many have not heard their newer material, it would have been better if they had played something more familiar like "It's Only Rock and Roll".
Then, after Mick makes a joke about the band being able to play the next song at Super Bowl I, they break into "Satisfaction". And it was a lean, mean version, with Keith Richards' guitar slashing through, and Charlie Watts keeping a relentless beat. Obviously, they've played this song live more times than there were people in Ford Field tonight, but this is (arguably) the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded. And after seeing these old guys play a searing version tonight, I came away with the feeling that at least for one night, rock and roll was prime time. Again, the visuals were enough to tell the story.