Bruce At The Super Bowl: Game On

The NFL and NBC confirmed on Sunday what had been long rumored on the Backstreets: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be the next Super Bowl halftime show headliners.

Glory days, indeed.

The high-profile performance by the one of the great live acts of all time will take place on Sunday, Feb. 1, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

So what should we expect?

Based on recent history, Springsteen et al will probably perform four songs, unless they’re feeling lazy or in a medley kind of mood (which they won’t be). Most likely, they’ll spotlight some of the more familiar songs in the deep Springsteen catalogue.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed four songs at the most recent Super Bowl, sticking solely to the hits: “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”

In 2007, Prince played some of his own hits as well as some covers, some of which got the mash-up/medley treatment. (The little purple polyglot’s amazing set included “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain,” bits of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Proud Mary” and a full cover of the Foo Fighters song, “Best of You.”)

In collecting the easiest paycheck ever in 2006, the Rolling Stones sandwiched “Rough Justice” (from their most recent album, “A Bigger Bang”) between two stalwarts: “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction.”

And the year before, Paul McCartney performed “Drive My Car,” “Get Back,” “Live And Let Die” and “Hey Jude.”

What do you think Springsteen and the ESB should play, and how should the songs be sequenced?

Keep in mind that there should be a strong familiarity factor to the set, given the enormity immensity of the audience. So, you know, opening with “The Promise” might not make sense, even if that is a great song.

Malitz and I were emailing about this last night and came up with our own set lists.

He likes this foursome:

1. “Rosalita”
Perfect upbeat opener, those few thousand superfluous dancers sure to be on the field can easily choreograph something to this.

2. “Glory Days”
It’s the Yankees victory song (retired until 2009, suckers!), so it’s already sports/stadium tested and approved.

3. “The Rising”
There’s nothing more American than the Super Bowl, and this has become the most beloved “yeah, America!” song of recent years.

4. “Born to Run”
Even in the new pass-happy NFL, you still need a good ground game to win it all.

In the interest of not repeating Malitz (I hate it when I agree with him), I’ll skip “Rosalita” and “The Rising,” both of which I’d actually been considering, and go with the following four songs, instead. Might not be dynamic enough, as the set would start fast and furious and pretty much stay there, save for the first part of “Thunder Road.” But it’s a short set, and these guys can clearly handle it. (Even Clarence!) So, too, can the audience.

1. “Badlands”
An old warhorse, this is an appropriate theme for these tough times; the soaring sound and marching beat would get the set started on a high note.

2. “Thunder Road”
This might have been a better pick back when Ron Dayne was a rookie, doing the “Thunder and Lightning” thing with Tiki Barber. But still: It is perhaps Springsteen’s greatest song (the list of qualified candidates is staggeringly long), and it’s just terrific live.

3. “No Surrender”
Everybody loves a good underdog anthem – especially a lifelong San Francisco 49ers fan circa 2008. “I’m ready to grow young again.” Me, too, Bruce. Me. Too.

4. “Born to Run”
No matter how many times you hear this one, it tends to sound explosive and electrifying in concert. It’s one of the most galvanizing songs in the Springsteen catalogue, because, really, we’re all dreamers and restless romantics, aren’t we?