The Prince of halftime…

In spite of the rain, there were no malfunctions (wardrobe or electrical) at yesterday’s SB halftime show.

By the way, I’m not a football fan. Not that I don’t enjoy watching football – it can be mildly entertaining. However, it’s like a mini-series in that you’ve either got to watch alot of it so you can keep up, or you don’t watch at all. I figured out many years ago that for me, it just wasn’t worth the time. So, until yesterday I didn’t even know who was playing. I didn’t even know that Indianapolis had a professional team. What I did know was that at the particular party we were invited to, there would be food. So, I spent most of the afternoon within reach of the goodies.

Except for halftime- I had heard rumors that Prince was performing, so I moved back into the big-screen room. Unfortunately, the room was filled with people making cracks about “The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince,” and so on. (Once was kind of amusing; after that, it was just annoying.)

I should say here that I had been somewhat of a Prince fan during the Purple Rain years; Prince is an incredibly gifted performer, and is, I think, often underrated by the masses, because – let’s face it – he’s a might peculiar, as artists can tend to be. I haven’t listened to him at all in many years, but I have been kind of curious as to how his conversion to the Jehovah’s Witnesses has impacted him. He’s always had a spiritual dimension to his music that I found intriguing, and it’s unfortunate that his journey has taken this particular rabbit trail. (Although, it’s apparently made his music a bit more socially acceptable.)

Yesterday, in spite of the noisy room and less than acceptable sound system, I was impressed, and somewhat surprised, with Prince’s performance. First, he performed no new material of his own. He started with 2 songs from the Purple Rain soundtrack (both good selections), then moved into a great cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” (one of my personal favorites) borrowing a little “All Along the Watchtower” for the intro. In my opinion, this was a great version of the song, and is worth listening to again. Finally, he closed with none other than Purple Rain, which is not only one of his more “spiritual” songs, but also has a somewhat evangelistic edge to it (though highly metaphorical).

Each was a great performance, in spite of the rainfall (you could only tell it was raining from the drops hitting the camera lens). This was, in my opinion, the best half-time show since Michael Jackson (no matter what you think of him, that was a great show). You can read my thoughts on last year’s Stones performance here; that was possibly the worst halftime show I can recall, and that’s saying something…

I’m guessing that more than Prince performing his greatest hits, they were chosen more for their underlying spiritual tone – after all, Purple Rain was a redemption story. “Best of You” also has a spiritual message, discussing loss of faith, etc. This, I think, was Prince’s one big chance to reach probably his greatest audience ever with his current apocalyptic message, whatever that might be. Obscure metaphors have their advantages.

But, perhaps I’m reading too much into it; perhaps he just wanted to do a great show. In that respect, he certainly succeeded.

2 thoughts on “The Prince of halftime…”

  1. You’re right, how could I have forgotten U2?? (and I am a U2 fan…)

    Truth is, I couldn’t remember that many half-time shows. I remember MJ’s, as I think it was the first half-time show of that scale. It was more of an engineering marvel than anything. I guess my senses have been deadened by the outrageous mediocrity that’s been Superbowl fare ever since…

  2. For sheer contextual power, I’d say the U2 performance at the Superbowl on the heels of 9/11 had a magnitude that went transcendental; and even though I’m not really a U2 fan and the show was mostly a patriotic metaphysic, it caught the angst, the outrage, and the promise of the American people and transfigured it. When those backdrop sheets went up behind the band and the names of the World Trade Center victims started scrolling, I was literally awed by the audacity of moment and thought to myself, “There is no WAY those terrorists can top this. No way at all.”

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