It seemed too perfect, and it was - Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band's knockout halftime performance at last Sunday's Super Bowl. Turns out perfection was easy to come by, as the E Street Band were on tape.
"The Super Bowl performances are all on tape," says Hank Neuberger, a Grammy-winning producer who supervises the broadcast audio for the Grammy Awards.
According to Neuberger, Bruce Springsteen And the E Street Band recorded their instrumental performances in advance. Only The Boss's vocals were live, he says
Recorded tracks are common practice
"There is no way you can set up a full band in five minutes and expect quality sound" Hank Neuberger, producer
"There is no way you can set up a full band in five minutes with microphones, get all the settings right, and expect to get quality sound," Neuberger says. "The Super Bowl has been doing that for years with virtually all the bands."
Already this week it was revealed that pre-game singers Faith Hill and Jennifer Hudson sang live to recorded backing tracks, another common practice according to Neuberger. But the news that the famed E Street Band, renowned for putting on thousands of frenzied performances the world over, would resort to using a taped instrumental track is a Super Bowl shocker indeed.
"Too many variables"
Neuberger sees the practice as a necessary evil, however: "There were too many variables keeping the instruments in tune while playing outside in cold weather," he says. "You can't control the environment, so the smart decision is to record the performance and play along with it.
"Television and music are not always a happy marriage. It's hard to present music of the highest quality on television, and you want the audience to hear an artist at their best."
Perhaps, but knowing this, we at MusicRadar would gladly trade 'best' for 'live' any day. After all, the football players don't get to pre-record their passes. That's what makes a game exciting - and real. Same goes for musical performances. Mistakes? Out-of-tune guitars? Who cares? That's what makes it rock 'n' roll!
Via Chicago Tribune