Monday, 1 February 2010

Superbowl XLIV: The Who dares, wins?

This Sunday, Superbowl 44, Colts v Saints, and the bookies say Colts by 4. I haven't a clue myself, and if the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't in it then I have no-one to shout for. The half-time show, though, that's a different matter. For this year the Dolphin Stadium in South Florida, and a few hundred million TV viewers worldwide, will welcome to the stage the 'Orrible 'Oo.
The half-time entertainment is a Superbowl perennial, but looking back at its history one could be surprised at how long the organisers persisted in mounting tame little Disney-like family spectacles for 10 minutes or so, seemingly unaware that when you've got thousands of sports freaks crammed into a stadium, and folks at home getting rowdy and beery, the chief thing they'll want to do is rock.
Michael Jackson (XXVII) and Diana Ross (XXX) were gestures toward superstar power, but, again, whoever imagined that a significant portion of the fanbase wanted to hear La Ross do Ain't No Mountain High Enough or I'm Coming Out? Even Aerosmith were made to share the slot with N-Sync and Britney Spears. Finally, in the decade just past, some genius figured it out - U2, the Stones, Springsteen, unalloyed and no support act - that's what the boys want.
There is something self-defeating about the 10-minute format: I didn't much enjoy Springsteen's set, for instance, not just because the songs were edited but because of the songs themselves - obvious, middle-ground, crowd-pleasing choices from The Boss. With The Who, however, advance word suggests that they will cram in versions of Baba O'Riley, Pinball Wizard, Tommy, Can You Hear Me?, Who Are You, and Won't Get Fooled Again. And let it be said, brothers and sisters, you could not possibly get a better mini-setlist than that, not in the entire annals of rock's lost highway...

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