It only feels right to make a list after losing legendary rocker Tom Petty, 66, to cardiac arrest two weeks ago. His performance, along with Prince, who we lost over a year ago, are two of the better performances this century. The two artists will always have their place etched in rock n’ roll history, but are their performances worthy of the top five?
- Bruce Springsteen, Super Bowl XLIII, 2009 Springsteen hyping up the E-Street band got the audience going before he even began to sing. Luckily for him, he backed up his words with a memorable show. As another aging rocker, “The Boss” displayed his youth by moving all over the place. The E-Street Band complemented his vocals too, including a fantastic saxophone solo in the classic “Born to Run.” Springsteen added a few ad libs in his final song, making the end of the show a comedic one. At age 68, and still performing well, don’t be surprised if he appears at a show again in a couple of years.
- Bruno Mars, Super Bowl XLVIII, 2014 Mars’s performance mirrors Prince’s in many ways. He had the same energy, dance moves and vocals Prince gave us seven years prior. But it’s the dance moves in particular that get him on the list. How could one not be entertained? Especially in a game that was essentially over at the half. Ending with his solo in “Just the Way You Are” really showed us how strong of vocals the man has. By far the best performance of this decade so far.
- The Rolling Stones, Super Bowl XL, 2006 Mick Jagger definitely didn’t seem his age in this show. The 62-year-old ran around like he was playing in the early 1970s. On top of Jagger’s energy, the Stones song choices were spot on. “Start Me Up” was an excellent choice for an opening song. They still sounded great for a group of older guys too, which hasn’t always been the case for older bands who’ve performed the gig before.
- Prince, Super Bowl XLI, 2007 Brilliance is the best word to sum up the late rocker’s incredible performance. On top of covering classics such as “All Along the Watchtower,” and “Proud Mary,” he performed his greatest hit “Purple Rain” in a torrential downpour, and absolutely nailed it. It couldn’t have been any more fitting either. He was so electric while playing it too, really involving the crowd toward the end, which always livens things up. If it wasn’t for the circumstances regarding U2’s 2002 show, his performance would be the best ever.
- U2 Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002 This one separates itself from the rest because of the larger meaning alone. Only months after 9/11, U2 comes out and plays phenomenally. Their touching tribute to all the victims, which ran behind them on a large screen, did more than enough to make many shed some tears. Listing each fallen individual’s name made the performance even stronger. Bono finishing the set by revealing the American flag on the inside of his jacket was the best way to cap off the greatest halftime show ever.