YouTube Live: U2’s Super Bowl “Streets”

There have been some great performances at the Super Bowl over the past twenty years. Tom Petty? Check. Prince? Check. Janet Jackson? Nipple. In a couple weeks, we’ll be treated to Bruce Springsteen, who will be promoting his new album, Working on a Dream, at Super Bowl XLIII (where my Arizona Cardinals will face-off against the Pittsburgh Steelers). I should mention that I have no problem with artists doing this, as long as I never have to see Kid Rock nor Luda again during halftime. Ever.

On a much more serious note, the most memorable musical moment during any Super Bowl has to be U2’s performance in the 2002 championship game between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams. Some may argue that Whitney Houston’s powerful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XXV, during the (first) Gulf War no less, is another memorable moment, but it’s U2’s that packs an everlasting punch.

Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. were enjoying renewed success with their All That You Can’t Leave Behind album, as well as packing houses in their stripped down (compared to their previous Pop tour) arena shows. Their performance at Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans occurred in between dates of their Elevation tour, and more importantly, months after September 11, 2001. I had the privilege of seeing the band during that tour, but it was months before that infamous date. After the attacks, however, they began to stage something rather touching.

From a backdrop that began just behind Mullen, Jr.’s drum kit, which reached hundreds of feet off the ground, the names of fallen victims from the terrorist attacks ran continuously behind the band as they launched into “Where the Streets Have No Name”. As though we don’t have problems repressing goose bumps during the Edge’s guitar intro, now we had to contend with the lingering emotions of 9/11. The names continued to appear behind the band as Bono closed the song out. Opening his jacket, he revealed our flag on the inside. So captivating, the stadium forgot there was a great game going on, and were just as lost in the moment as the viewers were. Truly a great and good moment to experience after such terrible events.

Before you go to watch this again, or for the first time, this performance, along with Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah” and R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”, are three songs that I will always identify with 9/11. Don’t get me wrong, I still love those songs. If anything, I love them more for helping not just myself, but many of us get through the aftermath of that day. What about you?


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