By SUSANNAH CLARK
Leave it to the Boss to break the curse of Nipplegate.
After Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during Super Bowl XXXVIII, the next four Halftime Shows lacked not only nipple shields, but fervor of any kind.
Once-great legends like Mick Jagger, Tom Petty and even Prince gave lackluster performances with washed-up presence and shot vocals.
And then along came Bruce.
With a little help from the elusively elegant E Street Band, a gospel choir and a caricatured referee, Bruce Springsteen illuminated the Tampa Bay stadium on Sunday with a raspy powerhouse of epic musical elation. My forgotten faith in the power of stadium rock has been restored.
The 12-minute performance was flawlessly executed, per usual for E Street. Opening with two classic crowd favorites, Bruce eased the crowd into the unfamiliar track from his new album by pre-gaming with “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and “Born to Run.” There wasn’t a single motionless pair of hips in the entire stadium.
He ended, of course, with “Glory Days,” an American anthem that evoked far more patriotism in me than Faith Hill’s opening performance of “America the Beautiful” or even Jennifer Hudson’s “Star Spangled Banner” (both of which were prerecorded.)
Finally, a Halftime Show worth holding it in instead of going to the bathroom.
By the end of the game, the Cardinals were Blinded by the Light, the Steelers were Dancing in the Dark.
My romance with the Boss has been lifelong; I was truly Born to Run. I rocked out to “Jungleland” in my crib, swooned over the “Born in the USA” jeans at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, and finally got to see Springsteen perform live with the Seeger Sessions Band in 2006.
While my suburban upbringing may not give me grounds to completely relate to our working class hero, Springsteen has created a polished brand of Rock n Roll that is universal for any one who has heart, soul or relatives in New Jersey.
That scrunched face he makes while singing live is evidence of an unbeatable passion. It is this Spirit in the Night that provides for Bruce’s longevity.
Unlike other old fogies like Bob Dylan or even Sir Paul McCartney, we’re not humoring Bruce. We don’t buy his records out of obligatory devotion; he really has still got it.
The Boss will always be cool. He’s Tougher Than the Rest.
And hey, even at 59, that butt looks better in leather pants than any Jonas Brother’s.
The night after the Super Bowl, I received a phone call from my father, surprising me with tickets to see the E Street Band at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. There was a lot of squealing.
While I know spending A Night with the Jersey Devil will be so much better in person than watching the Super Bowl Halftime Show on TV, it’s a shame that our nosebleed seats won’t allow for the same epic crotch shot.