They may not have flashed any body parts except for Mick Jagger's well-toned stomach but the Rolling Stones made ABC glad editors were on duty for the Super Bowl halftime show.
Two sexually explicit lyrics were excised from the rock legends' performance Sunday. The only song to avoid the editor was "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," a 41-year-old song about sexual frustration.
In "Start Me Up," the show's editors silenced one word, a reference to a woman's sexual sway over a dead man. The lyrics for "Rough Justice" included a synonym for rooster that the network also deemed worth cutting out.
ABC was the first network to impose a five-second tape delay on the Super Bowl, although it said the changes to the Stones' show were made by the NFL and its producers. The sensitivity no doubt reflects a lingering reaction to Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction two years ago.
The Stones probably didn't mind, either. It brought a little rock 'n' roll danger to the ultimate "safe" gig and if they're lucky it distracted attention from their mediocre show.
Jagger, at age 62, is still a force of nature, strutting and dancing across astage designed as a replica of their famed wagging tongue logo. The band'sperformance felt ragged they seemed just warming up during the opening "StartMe Up," and a three-song set affords no such luxury.
The Stones chose three tough rockers, including the best song from theirwell-received recent album and one of their most enduring hits.
"Here's one we could have done at Super Bowl I," Jagger wryly said inintroducing "Satisfaction."
It was their best, most energetic effort, and ended with Jagger blowing a kissto the audience. But unlike U2's performance four years ago at the Super Bowl,their set was not an example of a band at its peak rising to the majesty of theevent.
Some in Detroit felt the city's rich musical history was snubbed when theStones were selected, even if the Super Bowl had Motown-themed halftime showstwice in the past 25 years. This year's Motown tribute came before the game.
Stevie Wonder was the centerpiece, singing a medley of his hits with the helpof John Legend, Joss Stone and India.Arie.
It was a typical monument to excess, with a stage more crowded than a trainstation at rush hour, and was marred by microphones that occasionallymalfunctioned. Brightly clad dancers hoofed it incongruously when Wonder sang aportion of his angry ghetto tale "Livin' for the City," at one point pretendingto fight each other.
Most importantly, the medley format did a disservice to the musicians. Theyrushed through the songs as if at a fast-food service line. With hours ofmeaningless pregame hoopla, couldn't they be given five minutes more to finisha few songs?
The National Anthem offered a particularly odd partnership Aaron Neville andDr. John (in a tribute to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans) with Detroit favoriteAretha Franklin. Neville sang half of the song in his feathery-soft voice, thenwas never heard from again when Franklin blew the dome's roof off.