4. U2, Super Bowl XXXVI
The setting: New Orleans, Louisiana; February 3, 2002
The game: The New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams, 20-17.
The show: When a nation needs to heal, it calls Bono. Or maybe Bono calls the nation. Or maybe, in this instance, Bono appeared as an ethereal spirit in the offices of NFL marketing honchos, peering out through purple-tinted glasses as guitars echoed gently off the walls, offering an emotional spectacle worthy of America's big game. The first Super Bowl after 9/11 went heavy on patriotism and symbolism (save for the, uh, Irish band), with the Tom Brady-led Patriots beating the heavily favored Rams. At halftime, U2 delivered the kind of bald sentimentality that both attracts and repels legions of fans and detractors, though it's tough not to appreciate the raw power of the performance when the names of 9/11 victims begin scrolling on a huge tapestry hung from the Superdome ceiling. Bono actually said, "We play 'Where the Streets Have No Name' whenever we need God to walk through the room," which, holy shit, is the most Bono thing to say -- that's why he's Bono and you're the sucker reading about Bono. Also... he's not exactly wrong? Goddammit, Bono!